The final month of the year is here!


Arthur Graphic-Clarion of Arthur, Illinois

It is already December 2014, and that, to me, seems hard to believe. It has not been a particularly banner year, but I'm still here and ready to start on my next 50 years in 2015.

The stomach bug that has been making so many unwanted visits around town came to spend Thanksgiving with me. How kind... not! It is not a 24-hour kind either; it lingers on, and I've been out of commission now for about a week.

The worst of the symptoms, thankfully, did not last long, "but I just can't seem to get back to normal energy level. I tried the mind over matter approach, and, well, considering my state of mind, it did not last very long.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and you had a chance to get out and put your Arthur Holiday button to good use.

There really are some great deals locally, and it is so nice to walk down a vibrant Main Street to shop! Remember, we have Illinois' Longest Main Street, too, that runs out to Route 133 and all over our countryside. Want it made, want to purchase, want to eat, want to grow, or just want to enjoy... it is all right here. I encourage you to get out and look for yourselves!

Weren't we just...

... Carving pumpkins? Seems like yesterday we were enjoying Pumpkin House, and now here it is December already. We did have fun with Pumpkin House though, and The Great Pumpkin Patch made for some great pictures and creating some enjoyable memories.

Speaking of The Great Pumpkin Patch, the fine folks out at the most sincere patch anywhere donated over four tons of delicious edible squash to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank just before Thanksgiving. What a fantastic way to help make sure everyone has access to healthy, fresh food for the holidays.

We are, if we are not already, about to be world famous in our area for our pumpkin producing, prowess. There was a documentary film crew here from China recently filming a segment of a travel series they are doing about America. Our area, the Amish and, yup, pumpkins, will be featured on one of the segments in their show.

Meanwhile, back in Europe, our area will enjoy a six-page picture spread in the international travel magazine with the edition "I Heart - Chicago," which should be out soon. Nicolas and Charlotte were here from France and staying in Chicago which is the next feature city for their publication.

Arthur was a day trip for them, and I think they must have enjoyed themselves as they have a picture of a pumpkin they carved on the magazine's Facebook page.

Kudos to Christy Miller for hosting the guests and for everyone along the way at The Great Pumpkin Patch and the Pumpkin House, Yoder's Kitchen, and Yoder's Lamps and Antiques, plus everywhere else for their hospitality and information. You never know how far that good word will go!

Activities Right Around Here

Kicking off the week, Arthur Elementary School kindergarten, first grade, and second grade classes will present their annual Christmas program tomorrow (Thursday) at 7 p.m. in the high school gym. This show brings back lots of memories and is always enjoyable.

Next up is "Breakfast with Santa" on Saturday, December 6, sponsored by Arthur Woman's Club and Arthur Area Association of Commerce. It is held 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Yoder's Kitchen. It is always a hit with the kids.

After giving Santa your children's wish list, you can come uptown and enjoy the annual Vine Street Christian Church bazaar from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Coffee will be served! You can find that unique gift, buy your family (or just you) some baked goodies, and purchase a ticket to win a quilt. You don't want to miss the delicious chicken and noodle lunch which is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

I don't know if any international TV shows or magazines will be at any of these events, but you can be! Plus, one never knows who might be in town on any given day from anywhere in the world! Don't Fall For This One!

For a few days before Thanksgiving I kept getting an e-mail in my spam folder that said it was from the United States Postal Service and they had been trying to deliver a package to me but had been unable to reach me at home.

I just decided to call our Local post office and get the scoop. Yup, it is a virus. It is the newest virus circulating, the UPS/Fed Ex/USPS Delivery Failure. The e-mail message will be from UPS, Fed Ex, or USPS along with a packet, number; It will say that they were unable to deliver—a package sent to-you on such-and-such a date. It then asks you to print out the invoice copy attached. Don't try to print this. It launches the virus!

Carol at the post office told me this was a known problem and crops up every so often especially around the holiday season. She said the USPS would never send a communication like that to you via e-mail. So, if you receive something in e-mail that makes you even the least little bit suspicious of the source or the information being requested, delete it!

That is your public service message this week! Speaking of Service

Arthur Lovington At-wood Hammond cheerleaders would like to help out parents this holiday season by offering their baby-sitting services from 4 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 13.

For $20 per child and $15 for each additional child, the kids (age 3-11) will have a night of fun with snacks, games, and movies. Proceeds go to the ALAH Cheer Team.

So, if you want to do some Christmas shopping, have an evening out and about with your significant other, or just stay home to get the house ready for the holidays (kid free!)-you literally have a team of babysitters who can help you do just that.

This is the second annual babysit night, and it was a huge hit last year with parents and kids. You can bring your children to the high school gym in Arthur and register that night. If you have questions about this Saturday, December 13, fundraising event, you can contact Coach Lester at 454-0522 or Coach Monts at 369-6834.

What Is Advent?

I think Advent is one of the most interesting times of the year, but what is it actually, when is it, and what are some of the traditions associated with Advent? I'll share:

Advent is an anticipatory recognition of the "second coming of Christ," in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian, and Methodist traditions; Advent is the period of time preceding Christmas, beginning on whatever Sunday is nearest to November 30. Because start dates vary, so does the length of each Advent season.

This year, Advent officially began right on November 30 as it was a Sunday and ends Christmas Eve. Many times people associate Advent with starting on December 1, but that is not always the case. In Eastern Orthodox churches, however, Advent begins November 15 and lasts 40 days.

While many of us associate this time of year with the colors red and green, it turns out that purple is the color most associated with Advent. Why purple? In Christianity, purple symbolizes repentance and fasting.

Some churches and families make advent wreaths, which include three purple candles and one pink candle. One new candle is to be lit each week in the order of purple, purple, pink (to symbolize joyous anticipation of Christmas), and then the final purple. Some churches have also begun to use blue candles.

The Advent calendar is a device of early 19th Century German Lutherans who used the calendar to count down to Christmas Day.

While evidence varies, according to the Landes-museum of Lower Austria, the first known Advent calendar was made by hand in 1851 while the first printed Advent calendar was produced in Hamburg, Germany, in 1902 or 1903.

Other sources assert that a Swabian parishioner, Gerhard Lang, was responsible for the first printed calendar in 1908.

Getting to Know the Town Talker

A few years ago, lists of questions were making the rounds on Facebook, and everyone was filling them out and sending them on. I found one of mine and thought I'd share so you can see what makes me tick. Scary, I know!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, but bags end up getting used in the end because I always forget to wrap something(s).

2. Tree, real or artificial? Artificial. Will not be putting one in the bathtub this year though!

3. When do you put up the Christmas tree? About a week after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? Superbowl weekend (no he).

5. Like egg nog? Mmmm, egg noggy goodness.

6. Do you have a nativity scene? Several, and they are incomplete. Usually shy some wise men, shepherds, Mary, Joseph but have managed to keep baby Jesus in most of them. Most, not all. Can anyone spare a baby Jesus?

7. Favorite gift received as a child? Fisher Price Li'l People stuff.

8. Worst Christmas gift? When I was about 10 or 11,1 got bath towels. My aunt had mixed up the gifts. Another aunt got several really nice pairs of boy's jeans though. It was all made good. I wish I had those towels, now. They were nice! I miss the Honn family Christmases!

9. Mail or e-mail a Christmas card? Both, sadly the ones I mail I usually send on Christmas Eve.

10. Favorite Christmas movie? A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever the mood strikes. I like to go late at night during extended store hours.

12. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Our family gives switches each year to the "naughtiest" one. Then that person gives them out the next year. I have been naughty a lot, so I guess that counts as re-gifting!

13. Favorite food to eat on Christmas? My mom's fudge.

14. Colored or clear lights? Both as long as they work and aren't tangled!

15. Favorite Christmas Song? "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" as sung by Miss Judy Garland.

16. Travel during Christmas or stay home? I'll be home for Christmas.

17. Can you name Santa's reindeer? To quote Homer Simpson: Dasher, Dancer, um, Prancer, Nixon... uhhhh, Comet, Cupid... Donna Dixon?

18. Angel or Star on tree top? Star. The Angels always look so uncomfortable.

19. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve. Santa brings stuff for Christmas morning.

20. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Two more months of winter after the holidays!

And that's "30" today for our Arthur Volunteer Fire Department on conducting their annual Food and Toy

Drive once again! Merry Christmas!

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