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Here Comes the Season to Be Merry

The Season’s Bounty is at your fingertips
Eric Smith, from our second issue, May 6, 1993.
     As we edge into the winter holidays, I’m all for celebrating. Bring on the lights: stock up on candles, lay the fire, untangle the strands. Unbox your household icons. Gather the evergreens. Touch up the season’s grayscale with highlights of red and green.
    Mother Nature deserves a rest, and she is going to sleep. All the liveliness we’ll get this time of year depends on us. Fortunately, it’s a challenge many of us are up to.
     So many of us that our winter holiday celebrations take many forms. Religious Christians await the annual rebirth of Christ. Advent, the four-week ritual of preparation, begins Sunday, December 1, leading to a nativity honored in the many different ways of a multicultural nation.
      Cultural Christians await the visit of Santa Claus, who comes our way from a very different culture than the Middle Eastern desert nativity in a manger. (You’ll hear about Santa’s origins in a December interview.)
     Jewish families count down to Chanukah, beginning Sunday, December 22, this year, and its eight nights of celebratory illumination and gift-giving.
African Americans may find their reason to celebrate in Kwanzaa, beginning Thursday, December 26.
      Druids celebrate the sun’s turning point back to light, a phenomenon on the winter solstice, with the sun standing still this year at 11:19pm on Saturday, December 21. 
     Many of us bring in a Christmas tree for its evergreen symbolism — even though that custom comes to us from long-ago pagans.
     Chesapeake Country has room for all of us and all our celebrations, and for that I’m glad. At the simplest level, it’s grand because we all get to have so much fun, in so many different ways, all while playing our part in rolling the year forward into hope.
     If you, like me, like to celebrate this season, this is the week you’ve been waiting for. Tucked inside this week’s Bay Weekly is Season’s Bounty, Chesapeake Country’s month-long calendar of ways to celebrate. It’s so full of good times that even calendar editor Kathy Knotts — who spends many weeks preparing it for you — is feeling festive. 
      Ho! Ho! Ho!
 
The Value of a Newspaper
Not quite worth its weight in gold … but still 
     Normally you have to die to hear all the good things people saved to say about you. When they finally get around to it, it falls on deaf, in fact dead, ears. 
      Bay Weekly has broken the rule. In the weeks since we announced our year’s-end retirement, you’ve told us what we’ve meant to you in our 27-year run. And here we are, alive and alert to your praise.
 
     “We’ve learned so much about Chesapeake Country through the New Bay Times and Bay Weekly stories by smart, articulate and sometimes amusing writers. We all loved Bay Gardener Dr. Frank Gouin and his earth-friendly knowledge and advice. Best wishes to all who helped Bay Weekly grow into the go-to source of information.”
–Steve Kullen, Governor’s Run
 
      “Sandra Martin gave at the office year after year after year advocating for the Bay and Bay community. She raised up a bounty of aspiring journalists, sharing her talent and giving opportunity to those that desired the tradecraft and cared and shared about the Bay culture. My wife and I are proud to contribute to the legacy of Sandra and her husband Bill, a supportive husband and journalist.”
–Mike Shay and V.K. Holzendorf, Red Top Farm, West River
 
     “The Bay Weekly has been such an important part of my life in Southern Anne Arundel County. Journalism that was truly respectable. Embodying values of community learning and exploration, opening horizons, diversity. A true force for good. I wish Sandra and all of the gang at the Bay Weekly much success in their future endeavors. Thank you so much!”
–Jeannie Egan, Churchton
 
     “Sandra, Bill and family have demonstrated a total commitment to our community and our watershed. They have been professional colleagues and neighborhood friends. They deserve the very best.”
–Mick Blackistone and Cindy Thames, Tracys Landing
 
     “We have been so lucky to read the Bay Weekly all these years. The community feeling it created through positive news will stay with us. Also, ­Sandra taught me how to write.”
–Eric Smith, Fairhaven Cliffs
 
      Topping your appreciation is this 19th century poem discovered by journalist friend Barclay Walsh:
 
Only a newspaper! Quick read, quick lost,
Who sums the treasure that it carries hence?
Torn, trampled under feet, who counts thy cost,
Star-eyed intelligence?...
 
To serve thy generation, this thy fate:
“Written in water,” swiftly fades thy name;
But he who loves his kind does, first and late,
A work too great for fame
 
–Mary Clemmer, in an 1896 book of quotations
 
 
Bay Weekly’s Wheel of Memory
     This week my wheel of memory turns to two writers of Bay Weekly longevity Eric Smith and Ariel Brumbaugh. 
     Eric and Ariel tie for our youngest writers, for both were junior reporters in our very earliest days, when they would have been maybe six years old. Both neighborhood kids, they turned their investigative imaginations and fascination with words to reporting and writing stories for our pages, often for the wonderful double-spread Not Just for Kids feature we ran back then. I recruited them when they came to my house to investigate whether our cats were right- or left-pawed.
      Writing has remained a force in both their lives. Ariel earned a creative writing master’s degree in poetry from Johns Hopkins University. Eric, a ranger at Yosemite National Park and former educator at Chesapeake Bay Foundation, is a bard singing nature’s songs.