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Letter from the Editor

Maybe, just maybe, you will

We expect great things this time of year.         No wonder, for the winter holidays set expectations high.

When you think about it, a homemade Christmas cookie is quite the thing

As a taste treat, it’s hard to complain about an Oreo. Still, you’ll find in these pages reason after reason why store-bought cookies — even Oreos — can’t compare with homemade. Especially at Christmas, which is for cookies what Thanksgiving is for pumpkin pie and Hanukkah is for latkes.

Could that be the season’s best gift?

Help! I shouted as the tide of all I had to do threatened to overwhelm me.     My to-do list is so long that I expect it to outlive me. That’s the way it is in my family. My mother never forgave her third husband, John Allison, for dying — with dirt on his hands — before he’d finished planting her rose bed, leaving her in burgeoning spring with a legacy of chores undone. Any new season piles more on the list, none more than this holiday season.

How Chesapeake Country turns winter from darkness into fun

This season of year, we count on divine intervention to brighten the sun, warm up the days and fertilize the earth. But to assure that the powers that be — the good hand of God or the harmony of the spheres — know we’re paying attention, we pile on human intervention.     We fire up our lights to combat the darkness.     We strike up the bands to both cheer ourselves and knock on heaven’s door.     We feast, give gifts and play out stories that remind us of our good intentions.

Spoiler alert: Don’t let the kids read this

Santa Claus is coming to town. Love him or hate him, he’s a fact.     You’ll see him everywhere in the weeks ahead. If you shop at Westfield Annapolis Mall, you’ve been seeing him since the day after Veteran’s Day. With this issue, we acknowledge his inevitability. And we take a closer look at the man behind the snowy white beard.

That’s a blessing I’m seeking to count this Thanksgiving

If you’ve seen the brand-new movie Arrival (and if you haven’t, do, but more about that later), you know that feelings find expression in different ways. Very different languages are the movie’s subjects. But there’s more to the irrepressible drive than language. We sentient beings (including Heptapods) are compelled to impress ourselves on the world, by whatever means we choose.

How to manage the perfect ending for your ­Thanksgiving Feast

The year is fast unfolding. In less than two weeks, we celebrate Thanksgiving.     Food, family and gratitude for our blessings are the focus of that holiday. Food brings the family together and the gratitude forth. So about this time every year, we begin planning for the Thanksgiving feast.     When the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest feast with the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth, they would have dined upon seasonally available fowl, seafood, shellfish, game and side dishes.

Three destinations to enjoy mild days while you can

At Halloween, we passed the halfway point, 45 days from past the autumnal equinox, 45 days until the winter solstice. Halloween, you’ll remember, shortens All Hallows Eve, the lead-in to All Saints Day and All Souls Day, feasts of remembrance and reverence for the dead, borrowed from Roman Catholic liturgy. These are the Days of the Dead, as they’re celebrated in Mexico.    

Like coffee, Bay stewardship may be an acquired taste

Percolate is a big word in Chesapeake futures.     Hereabouts, the same word once synonymous with how America made its coffee describes the best way for water from heaven, rainwater, and its gushing next stage, stormwater, to make its way back to our watershed. My mother’s percolator kept the brew cycling through the grinds, making coffee more watchable than drinkable as it spouted against the little glass top cap. In our watershed, drip coffee makes a better metaphor but not so particular a word.

A little cause for hope and a lot of good eating

Oysters have been around a long time, in the vicinity of 500 million years.     Arriving somehow in the Chesapeake, which came into being only 35 million years ago, oysters made themselves at home. In the prehistoric broth, temperatures were moderate, oxygen abundant and food plentiful for the filter-feeders. In synergism over the eons, thriving oysters both kept the Bay clean and made welcoming reef homes for many species seeking shelter and prey. For immobile creatures, oysters got a lot done.