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Thoughts on holidays, celebrations

Christmas is now just special memories and a few pictures on the cell phone or printed out to be pasted in the family album, but wasn’t it a memorable time to be with family and friends, or maybe just a quiet time at home with telephone calls or texts coming from those who could not attend this year?

I enjoy the way we all seem to flash a special smile and extend greetings and best wishes for several weeks. I like receiving Christmas cards and especially enjoy reading some written words at the bottom of a card. It may be all we hear from them all year, but at this time of the season, we know if they are doing OK or in need of prayer.

You might say that Lamont got a special Christmas present with the Browns winning the Christmas Eve game. Mine was the next day when the last 34 seconds of the Steelers-Ravens game was a case for raw nerves. They managed to win with Antonio Brown stretching with all his might to get past the score line. It was nice to have Jay’s family and Lamont’s twin brother, Larry, there for dinner and family games. But none of them were Steeler fans.

I have been attending the Jefferson County Farm Bureau promotion and education Christmas luncheons for 20 years or so, and it is always special. Jeanne Roberts had a reading, “A Thankful Heart,” that made us all realize that there is always something to be thankful for, even if things look low at the moment.

There is the gift exchange that has been held ever since I can remember that makes one nervous if they open a gift that is really special to them. The next person who hasn’t opened a wrapped gift yet looks around the room and if her eyes fall on your prized gift, there it goes, and you are left to open another that might be just as special but by now you know that it is going to take some special strategy to keep it — like hide it in your lap or place it on the floor. It really is fun, and no matter how many times you lose your gift, you always end up with something nice.

The P & E group has ambitious plans for the coming years, not that 2016 was a slacker by any means.

They will have a birds, bats and butterflies program for the school children in January. The kick-off for the membership campaign will be in February, and the “Read Across America Day” will be the same month, as well as the American Farm Bureau approved books distribution to schools. March will be the Ag Baby event, where the first born child in Trinity Medical Center West will be celebrated. Placemats will be distributed for Ag Week, too.

April will be the Harrison and Carroll County P & E spring luncheons, and May will be when they start to plan farmers market activities and plan their gardens.

June will be farmers’ market time, and July is when Chef Paul comes to the farmers’ market to  teach cooking skills. August is a busy time with the farmers’ market, cleaning the Jefferson County fair booth and planting flowers at Friendship Park. Chef Paul comes back to the farmers’ market in September and the annual meeting is held. October is the time to plan for 2018 activities. It all ends with another Christmas luncheon.

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The North River Avenue Christian Church celebrated its 30th anniversary and annual Christmas party at the Knoxville Volunteer Fire Department, with Cathy Grimes, Nancy Pedder, Nancy Stanak, Lisa Rex and Bonnie Reynolds planning and decorating for the event.

Rex Mosser, church elder, gave the invocation and Christmas music, and lively music from the 1950s through the 1970s was offered by a father-and-son singing group, The Donohues.  Jim and Jimmy, have been together for 16 years, and this was by accident when they sang together at the parents’ 50th anniversary. “It’s been a good run,” the elder Donohue said.

The singers coaxed four men to get up and move and sing backup to a lively song. Joe Adamovich, Knox Township trustee, was the first brave man to get up front. Later they had some of the ladies wear Christmas hats and sing and sway. It was a fun performance by all those brave church members.

I enjoyed their rendition of “Hallelujah,” and “The Old Lamplighter” brought back memories for me. “Who needs Christmas presents, we already have Him,” the senior Donohue said.

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The Steubenville Nutcracker Village presented by Trinity Health System has been a big attraction for visitors from all areas, and many noticed Clark Kent and Lois Lane sponsored by the newspapers. Children found that Santa Claus came in a variety of outfits, but usually with the beard. It was a wonderous holiday adventure for all who walked through the village at Historic Fort Steuben and also learned about the history of the city.

Approach the new year with joy that a new slate is offered, and we can write on it anything we desire. And wipe off our mistakes with a prayer of forgiveness from above.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is food editor and a staff columnist for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)

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