They arrived aboard a pickup truck and sports utility vehicle at the Rockland Road home of Marvin Reifsnyder about 3 p.m. on Christmas Day, gathering on his sun porch.
“They” were a local family of 10, plus a half dozen other friends and neighbors. The weather was sunny, the group in full voice, singing a Christmas carol when 102-year-old “Uncle Marvin” appeared on his deck, lively but frail, eyes dimmed by age but twinkling on this day. The voices made the inevitable hearing aids dispensable.
This caring Rockland family – the Cummings – called on their World War II Navy veteran and neighbor to make his Christmas bright, singing Christmas hymns and songs before the doubtful baton of … well, me!
Marvin, home alone this Christmas except for one of his two caregivers – this one named Sue – welcomed Clark and Anne Marie Cummings and their eight children, plus friends Heidi and son Cameron, me and my wife, Carol, and our son, active duty U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, Malcolm Barr Jr., with a smile on his face and, maybe, a song in his heart.
Antonia, at 23 the oldest of the Cummings siblings, said for all of them and the rest of us, “Being able to share in the joy of Christmas with a World War II veteran is a wonderful reminder to the children of what we owe to men like Marvin.
“As children of America, it is important that they respect what men (and women) have fought for to make our country the nation that it is, and to honor them.”
Marvin Reifsnyder, who entered his 103rd year on Dec. 10, was born the year war broke out in Europe in 1914 and was aboard a destroyer anchored off the Pacific island of Iwo Jima the day Japan capitulated to American forces in 1945. A Pennsylvania native, he has lived in Front Royal since 1986. He played golf on the Shenandoah Valley course into his mid-90s and, despite diminishing eye sight, to this day he is driven to the Elks Lodge daily to play a couple of hours of pool. He worked for the Department of the Army at the Pentagon almost 50 years, and was married for 69 years. His wife Virginia died in 2006.
“Singing for Marvin on Christmas Day was a gift, not just for him but for all of us,” said Antonia Cummings at the end of the brief concert.
“It was an honor to share this day with this veteran of the Second World War,” said, Staff Sgt. Barr, himself an Iraq vet visiting his Rockland Road parents for the holidays.
(The Cummings children taking part were Marcus, 5, the youngest; Louisa, 8; Marri, 11; James, 14; Ioan, 16; Christian, 18; Joseph, 21; and Antonia, the oldest, plus their parents, Clark and Anne Marie. Friends and neighbors included my son and wife Carol; and Heidi and her son, Cameron)
Holiday Crafting: Create Your Own DIY Christmas Ornaments and Decorations
Easy and Festive DIY Ideas to Spruce Up Your Holiday Decor.
The holiday season is a time for creativity and warmth, and what better way to embrace this spirit than by crafting your own Christmas decorations? Making your own ornaments and decorations personalizes your holiday decor and brings a unique sense of joy and nostalgia to your celebrations. Here are three simple yet delightful DIY Christmas decoration ideas to try with your family.
1. Hand-Painted Wooden Ornaments: Start with plain wooden craft ornaments, available at any craft store, and gather some acrylic paints and brushes. Unleash your creativity by painting festive designs such as snowflakes, holly, reindeer, or Santa Claus. Add a personalized touch by inscribing your family members’ names on them. These ornaments can add a homemade charm to your Christmas tree or become cherished keepsakes.
2. Festive Mason Jar Lanterns: Transform ordinary Mason jars into enchanting lanterns. Coat the jars with glue and sprinkle glitter for a snowy effect. Insert small LED candles or string lights to create a warm, twinkling glow. These lanterns can beautify any space, from your mantle to your dining table, adding a cozy and inviting ambiance.
3. Felted Snowflake Garland: Craft a charming snowflake garland using white and light blue felt. Cut out snowflake shapes and stitch them together, embellishing them with silver beads or sequins for a bit of sparkle. This garland can be draped along banisters, walls, or doorways, adding a festive flair to your home.
DIY Christmas decorations are a fun and meaningful way to engage in the holiday spirit. They enhance your home’s festive atmosphere and offer a memorable crafting experience with your family. So, head to your local craft store, gather your supplies, and start creating your own holiday magic.
Splendor in Gifting: Elevate the Festive Season with Luxury Presents
Indulging Loved Ones with High-End Gifts This Holiday Season.
The holiday season transforms the world into a shimmering display of lights and colors, setting the perfect stage for giving gifts that sparkle with luxury and elegance. If you’re looking to make a grand gesture this festive season, indulging in luxury gifts for your loved ones could be the way to go. Whether for a partner, parent, or child, high-quality luxury items can become cherished tokens of affection and appreciation.
The Essence of Luxury: Luxury gifts stand out for their association with prestigious brands and unmatched quality. These gifts often come with a higher price tag, but the value lies in their ability to leave a lasting impression. The key is choosing items that resonate with the recipient’s tastes and preferences, ensuring that the gift is meaningful and exquisite.
Gift Ideas for the Discerning Recipient: To help you in your search for the perfect luxury gift, consider these top-of-the-range products that are sure to enchant:
- Elegant Watches: Timepieces from renowned brands that combine functionality with sophisticated design.
- Exquisite Jewelry: Pieces like necklaces, bracelets, or earrings that add a touch of glamour to any ensemble.
- Designer Handbags: High-quality handbags that offer both style and utility.
- Premium Lighters: Sophisticated lighters that blend craftsmanship with elegance.
- Stylish Sunglasses: Luxury sunglasses that provide a chic and practical accessory.
- Fine Kitchen Knives: Exceptional knives that blend precision with culinary artistry.
- Exclusive Perfumes: Designer fragrances that leave a memorable scent.
- Aged Spirits: Premium spirits like 25-year-old Scotch for the connoisseur.
- High-end Coffee Machines: For the coffee aficionado, a machine that delivers barista-quality brews at home.
- Works of Art: Invest in art pieces that can beautify a home and become a topic of conversation.
- Luxurious Pens: Pens that offer an unparalleled writing experience, perfect for the avid writer.
Presentation Matters: Enhance the luxury of your gift with elegant wrapping. Use high-quality wrapping paper, lustrous fabric ribbons, or even reusable wooden boxes to add an extra layer of sophistication.
Luxury gifts are more than mere objects; they are experiences wrapped in elegance and grandeur. This holiday season, elevate your gift-giving with items that dazzle and convey the depth of your appreciation and love. Whether it’s a timeless piece of jewelry, a bottle of aged Scotch, or a designer perfume, choose a luxury gift that will be treasured for years to come.
Final Preparations: 3-Weeks to Christmas
Tackling the Key Tasks for a Seamless Holiday Celebration.
With Christmas just three weeks away, the festive season is reaching its peak. This is the time to focus on finalizing preparations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable holiday. From confirming guest attendance to choosing the perfect party outfit, the tasks this week are all about fine-tuning the details of your holiday celebration.
1. Finalize Guest Confirmations: Reach out to everyone you’ve invited to your Christmas gathering to confirm their attendance. This step is crucial for finalizing catering counts, seating arrangements, and other accommodations. It’s also an opportunity to answer any questions your guests might have and to communicate any important details about the event.
2. Choosing Your Festive Outfit: Your Christmas party is an occasion to dress up and enjoy the festivities in style. Visit local boutiques or formalwear rental outlets to find an outfit that makes you feel festive and fabulous. Whether you opt for a classic look or something more contemporary, remember that comfort is key to enjoying the night.
3. Curating the Perfect Party Playlist: Music sets the mood for any party. Spend some time creating playlists that complement each phase of your event. A softer, mellow playlist is ideal for cocktail hour and mealtime, while upbeat tunes are perfect for dancing and celebrating. Tailoring your music to the flow of the evening will enhance the overall experience for you and your guests.
4. Gift Wrapping: Dedicate some time to wrapping the presents you’ve so thoughtfully chosen. Creative and thoughtful wrapping can make your gifts even more special. Consider setting up a wrapping station with all the necessary materials – paper, ribbons, tags, and decorations – to make the process efficient and enjoyable.
As Christmas draws near, completing these tasks can significantly reduce last-minute stress, fully immersing yourself in the joy of the season. This week’s efforts in finalizing details, from guest confirmations to wrapping presents, pave the way for a festive and memorable holiday celebration.
Crafting Love: 15 Handmade Gift Ideas for a Thoughtful Christmas
Personalize Your Holiday Giving with Creative, Handcrafted Presents.
As the festive season approaches, the quest for the perfect Christmas gifts begins. In an era where online shopping reigns supreme, handmade gifts offer a deeply personal touch. Creating a gift with your hands is an expression of creativity and a testament to the love and thought you put into each present.
Here are 15 heartwarming and creative handmade gift ideas that cater to a range of skills, from crafting to cooking, ensuring there’s something special for everyone on your list:
- Knitted Accessories: Craft cozy knitted items like throws, scarves, or slippers – perfect for keeping your loved ones warm during the winter.
- Homemade Alcohol: Brew your own gin, beer, or wine, adding a personal touch to a classic gift.
- Handcrafted Jewelry: Design unique bracelets, rings, or necklaces, making a fashionable and memorable present.
- Bath Bombs: Create soothing bath bombs for a relaxing spa experience at home.
- Scented Candles: Make candles with delightful fragrances to add a cozy ambiance to any room.
- Decorative Picture Frames: Craft personalized picture frames to preserve cherished memories.
- Jams and Spreads: Prepare homemade jams or spreads, perfect for foodies.
- Christmas Decorations: Create festive decorations like wreaths or baubles to add holiday cheer.
- Tasty Marinades: Mix up flavorful marinades – a great gift for grilling enthusiasts.
- Custom Spice Mixes: Blend your own spice mixes tailored to your recipient’s taste preferences.
- Clay Pots: Fashion clay pots for plant lovers to showcase their greenery.
- Potpourri: Blend a fragrant potpourri as a delightful sensory gift.
- Fancy Soaps: Make artisanal soaps with unique scents and ingredients.
- Homemade Body Care Products: Create creams or exfoliants for a luxury skincare touch.
- Cork Drink Coasters: Craft stylish drink coasters from Cork for a practical and chic gift.
Handmade gifts are not just items; they are a showcase of time, effort, and personal attention. This Christmas, embrace the joy of making and giving something unique. These gifts will bring smiles to your loved ones’ faces and support local shops where you can buy all the necessary materials. Get creative, spread joy, and make this holiday season one to remember with your heartfelt creations.
Green Holiday Cheer: Five Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable Christmas
Embrace Eco-Conscious Practices to Celebrate a More Environmentally Friendly Holiday Season.
The holiday season is traditionally a time of joy and generosity, but it can also bring about excessive consumption and waste. This Christmas, there’s a growing need to balance the festive spirit with environmental responsibility. By adopting eco-friendly practices, you can celebrate a green Christmas that’s joyful and kind to the planet.
1. Conscious Gift-Giving: Rethink your approach to presents by choosing sustainable and meaningful gifts. Opt for experiences, homemade treats, or eco-friendly products. When it comes to wrapping, use recycled or reusable materials such as brown paper or fabric, reducing the amount of waste generated.
2. Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Options: For a greener tree choice, consider a live, potted Christmas tree that can be replanted after the holidays, continuing its life cycle. Alternatively, an artificial tree made from recycled materials can be sustainable if used for several years.
3. Energy-Efficient Decorations: Illuminate your home with LED lights for your Christmas tree and decorations. LEDs are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent lights, helping to reduce your energy consumption during the festive season.
4. Sustainable Food Choices: Plan your holiday meals with a focus on locally sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients. This supports local farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with food transport. Also, creatively repurpose leftovers and compost any unavoidable food waste to minimize your impact on landfills.
5. Reuse and Recycle Practices: Encourage guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers, cutting down on single-use plastic waste. Additionally, set up designated recycling bins to ensure recyclable items from your holiday celebration are properly sorted and disposed of.
Celebrating a green Christmas doesn’t mean sacrificing the joy and warmth of the season. By incorporating these eco-friendly tips into your holiday traditions, you contribute to a healthier planet while still enjoying a festive and meaningful time with loved ones. This Christmas, let’s make choices that cherish the environment as much as we cherish our holiday traditions.
The Final Stretch: Your 4-Weeks to a Merry Christmas
Embrace the Festive Spirit with These Essential Pre-Holiday Tasks.
With just four weeks until Christmas, the holiday atmosphere is in full swing. Stores are filled with festive tunes, and a noticeable chill is in the air, signaling that the most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. This is an ideal period to immerse yourself in holiday preparations, ensuring everything is set for a joyful celebration. Here’s a list of tasks to focus on in this crucial month leading up to Christmas.
1. Christmas Tree Decoration: One of the most cherished traditions of the holiday season is decorating the Christmas tree. Gather your family and spend an evening adorning your tree with lights, ornaments, and tinsel. This is a wonderful opportunity to create lasting memories and enjoy quality time together.
2. Gift Shopping Adventures: Continue your quest for the perfect gifts for your loved ones. With the shops decked out in holiday decor, browsing for presents can be an enjoyable experience. Keep an eye out for special deals and unique finds that can bring smiles on Christmas morning.
3. Outdoor Decorations: If the weather cooperates, start decorating your outdoor decorations. Whether stringing lights along the roofline or setting up a festive yard display, these decorations contribute to the neighborhood’s holiday spirit.
4. Preparing Freezable Meals: The holiday season can be hectic, so preparing some meals in advance is a great idea. Cook dishes like lasagna or meat pies that can easily be frozen and reheated later. This foresight will ease your cooking load on busier days closer to Christmas.
5. Writing to Santa: For those with young children, help them write and send their letters to Santa. It’s a magical experience that captures the wonder and excitement of the season for little ones, filling their hearts with joy and anticipation.
As Christmas approaches, these activities help get your preparations done and immerse you in the holiday spirit. By tackling these tasks now, you’re setting yourself up for a more relaxed and enjoyable Christmas, where you can focus on celebrating with family and friends rather than last-minute to-dos.