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Once upon a Christmas Eve, Lindsey, Caitlyn, Anna and Kali, were off to Grandmother Ruby's house for a noon gathering with all the family bringing food and gifts. As we drove away, we waved merrily to Amelia and Lily, our two King Charles Cavalier spaniels who stood watching from the window.

Five friends find the gift of Christmas is in the giving

Five Children stood at the entrance to the park early Christmas morning. Three girls, Katelyn, Maddison and Isabella or Kay, Maddie, and Izzy as they are known to their friends, stood on one side of the wheelbarrow. Two boys, Nick and Eddie stood on the other side. In the wheelbarrow laid a pile of Christmas presents. "Do you think this is enough," asked Maddie.
It started with a phone call in mid-November. Between jobs, I was temping at a county workforce development office. The caller was almost in panic mode. She hired the staff for Santa photos in malls in our area. A manager had resigned; she needed a replacement right away. I asked what the job entailed — managing the staff, hiring elves, taking photos of children, running the stage area, scheduling, timesheets and bank deposits. “I can do all that,” I said. And so it began.

My Santa story begins many years ago, when Prince Frederick was just a small, simple friendly town with just one shopping center. At this Christmas season it needed a Santa and this Santa needed a job. Santa’s job began on Saturday evenings in a trailer in the shopping center’s parking lot, where the children come to sit on his lap, and for a small fee they could have their picture taken with Santa.
I suppose many of us have a "Magical Christmas" that stands out from all the rest of Christmases we've had; that one Christmas, where everything was perfect and magical. I happen to have that Christmas.  It was back in 1955, the Christmas I was six years old. The Christmas where Santa was so real, I could actually see him peeking through my widow to see if I had been naughty or nice!  

Clear your calendar for these holiday traditions

What: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Here’s how Chesapeake neighbors describe their very best gifts
      The best gifts bring happiness to both giver and receiver. Memorable gifts forever hold a place in the heart, and recalling the moment the gift was given recreates the pleasure.       This year, reflective Chesapeake neighbors told us about gifts that have meant the most to them through the years. We’ve shared their stories in the hope that reading them reminds you of the best gifts you’ve given or received.
A Thanksgiving story for my grandfather
Searching for My Grandfather      One year after I graduated from college, I moved to Ecuador to reconstruct my memory of my grandfather. I think I was afraid what might happen if I allowed his memory to be lost.

Students keep stories of verterans alive and fresh

     Southern High School history teacher Jennifer Davidson will do just about anything to talk to a veteran. She admits to tracking them down in grocery stores and parking lots to charm them into speaking with her freshmen classes. Her dedication helped the Veterans Oral History Project earn the Four Rivers Heritage Area Heritage Partnership of the Year award for an outstanding regional partnership in heritage interpretation, preservation, stewardship and education.

You can move belongings in and out, but ghosts linger forever 

For John Lederer