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Lighting the Christmas season: It’s all good

When asked, most people can easily name their favorite thing about Christmas time. For some, it’s the food. I can understand this. Pecan pie, eggnog, and yes, though I can’t understand the attraction, fruit cake. For others, it’s the music. Christmas carols, hymns, Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, and an addition I have come to enjoy, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, all say Christmas. But for me, the one thing that delights me most about the holiday season are the lights. Thomas Edison invented the electric light in 1879. In 1880, to celebrate the season, he strung the first Christmas lights outside of his Menlo Park laboratory. Since then they have been a part of the holiday season.

Read more: Lighting the Christmas season: It’s all good

If the recession is over, why doesn’t it feel like it?

Economists are all saying the recession is over. They point to a growth in the gross domestic product and an increase, at least when compared to last month, in retail sales. Even automobile sales improved slightly. And then there is the modest uptick in home sales. All of this sounds encouraging, and it should be, but it still doesn’t feel like the recession is ending. If anything, it seems unusually persistent and sometimes like it’s actually getting worse.

Read more: If the recession is over, why doesn’t it feel like it?

The Pilgrims’ saga — an American story

Ask several people what Thanksgiving means and you will get all sorts of different answers. To some it’s a feast. Turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes … and, well, I better stop there, because for someone on a diet, several days before Thanksgiving, all that food imagery can be unnerving.
To others, like my dad, Thanksgiving was about football on TV. The Thanksgiving meal, hopefully, occurred at half time. To others, it’s about family and spending some time together. However, for many, the original founders of the holiday, the Pilgrims, are an afterthought at best. Perhaps that’s because to most of us they seem remote, a bit odd, you know, the funny hats and all, and maybe not all that relevant. However, that’s probably selling the Pilgrims short. The Pilgrim story is more than just a story about a meal — it’s a saga — one that shows the persistence and character of some of our earliest American settlers.

Read more: The Pilgrims’ saga — an American story

2010 Congressional elections in Virginia

Virginia Republicans are still basking in the glow of one of the most sweeping statewide victories in the history of the commonwealth. In fact, it was the largest lopsided win for any party for governor since 1961. The GOP won the governor’s mansion — the first time they have done this since 1997 — and at the same time won both down ticket positions with easy wins for Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. They also won a net gain in the House of Delegates of six seats. This completely reverses the seat-by-seat gains the Democrats have made during the past six years and once again gives the Republicans a whopping majority in the House. Right now the Republicans can count on more than 60 votes.

Read more: 2010 Congressional elections in Virginia

Average people who did extraordinary things

When I was a student living in Scotland, I attended the Methodist Church in downtown Edinburgh. It was a friendly place, and I was particularly fond of the minister. He was gentle, kindly, witty and had wonderful insights on life and the world. He was also bald, terrifically overweight, and because of all that extra girth, occasionally had trouble getting up and down the stairs.
What can I say? When he was around, no biscuit and no doughnut was safe.
Though the British don’t celebrate a holiday like Veterans Day, they still honor Nov. 11. That’s the day the first World War ended and the Sunday nearest that date is called “Remembrance Sunday” in honor of those who served and those who fell in war time. It’s also traditional on that Sunday for British war veterans to wear their medals. Some do, some don’t. The British, by nature, are a bit reserved, but Reverend McPherson wore his.

Read more: Average people who did extraordinary things

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell faces tough issues

Tuesday, with Governor-elect Bob McDonnell at the head of the ticket, Virginia Republicans scored an overwhelming victory in the 2009 statewide election. It represents a dramatic reversal of fortune. Republicans, who had been losing ground in every statewide election since 2001, turned the tide. Now, after eight years of Democratic administrations, it’s the Republicans who will be in charge in Richmond.

Read more: Governor-elect Bob McDonnell faces tough issues

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