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The fabulous tales of Mount Christmas: A surprise at the store

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Once upon a time, in the town of Mount Christmas, there was a quaint little general store where all the residents went to shop. The owner, Lucy, was well known for her kind heart and generous spirit. In fact, she often donated food and toys to charities in the area.

One early morning in December, as Lucy prepared to open the store, she noticed dozens of customers lined up outside. It was an unusually large crowd, especially since she hadn’t announced any big sales that week.

As soon as Lucy unlocked the door, customers flooded into the store. They all headed straight for the decoration aisle.

With Christmas just around the corner, I guess they want to make sure their homes look festive, Lucy thought.


Strangely though, everyone seemed to be interested in only one type of decoration. Lucy watched as residents bought strand after strand of garlands. She also noticed that many of her customers were giggling and whispering to each other as they left.

This is very odd, Lucy thought, but she didn’t ask any questions. She preferred to respect the privacy of her fellow citizens.

However, the store owner soon began to worry that she would run out of the popular garlands. Lucy asked her young cashier to keep an eye on the shop, then she rushed to the storage room.

Lucy searched and searched for the boxes of extra garlands, but they were nowhere to be found.

“Where did I put them?” she wondered out loud.

That’s when she heard a familiar chirp. It was Octave, the magical cardinal that watched over the town of Mount Christmas.

From his perch atop a shelf, the bird cheerfully sang: “Your treasure awaits, near the skis and skates!”

“Of course,” Lucy exclaimed. She’d put all the extra Christmas decorations alongside the sporting goods last year.

“Thank you, my feathered friend,” she said. Lucy quickly gathered up the boxes of garlands and went to restock the shelves.

By the time she headed home that evening, Lucy was tired but happy that she’d had enough supplies for all of her customers. When she pulled into the driveway, her jaw dropped. Lucy rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.

“Is this my house?” she exclaimed. All the garlands she’d sold that day now lined the roof, encircled the windows and embellished the front door of her home. Even the fence and trees were twinkling with tinsel. “It’s so beautiful! But who put these here?”

Suddenly, dozens of people emerged from behind the hedges, cheering and clapping. Right away, Lucy recognized the familiar faces of her loyal customers.

“You did this?” she asked. “But why?”

An elderly gentleman stepped forward and handed Lucy a bouquet of flowers.

“Dearest Lucy,” he said, “since your store is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, we wanted to thank you for your hard work and generosity. We know how much you love the holidays, but you never have time to decorate your home. So, we decided to do it for you!”

“Don’t worry,” the man added with a chuckle, “we’ll come take them down for you after New Year’s Day.”

As Lucy hugged each of her customers and thanked them for this wonderful surprise, Octave watched from a nearby tree, his red plumage shimmering like tinsel in the moonlight.

By Sarah Beauregard and Johannie Dufour / Translated by Katya Teague

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Seasonal

Holiday shopping survival guide

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Do you dread the thought of navigating crowded stores, busy parking lots, and long checkout lines? Here are a few tips to make your holiday shopping experience less of an ordeal.

Go at the right time
There’s no doubt that weekends are a prime time for shopping, especially Saturdays. If possible, head to stores on a weekday or first thing in the morning. Waiting until the last minute will also mean con¬tending with crowds. Keep in mind that many navigation apps allow you to see how busy a particular location is at a given time.

Know what you want
To limit the amount of time you spend in stores, make a list and browse local retailers’ websites before you visit in person. This will ensure you know exactly where to go to get the best deals. Of course, you can also stick to shopping online, so long as you leave enough time for your packages to arrive before the holidays.

Avoid hindrances
If you’re not a fan of shopping in general, you’ll want to ensure the experience isn’t any more unbearable than it needs to be. Among other things, you should:


• Dress in comfortable layers, and wear appropriate walking shoes
• Leave your car at home, if possible, to avoid searching for a parking spot
• Refrain from shopping with people who are indecisive
• Buy heavy items last so you don’t have to lug them around

Finally, depending on what would cause you the least amount of stress, you can either plan several short trips or aim to get all your shopping done at once.

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Lists are not just for Santa!

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The holiday season is often accompanied by worries about not being ready in time. As the festive season is approaching fast, here is a list for those in charge of organizing Christmas. It will help you make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

1. Establish your budget. This is always a good starting point. It feels awful to regret all your spending once the holidays are past.

2. Create checklists. Plan your menus, gifts, indoor and outdoor decorations, and schedule your beauty appointments well in advance.

3. Set your tasks. Each of the previous lists brings its own share of things to do, so it’s important to list them clearly along with a time frame in which to do them.


4. Spread out the tasks. Note on a calendar or in your smartphone agenda all things to do each day, as this will give you a better overview. It will also be easier to add an item to the list or delete completed tasks (yay!), so that you don’t forget anything.

5. Delegate. Some tasks can even be assigned to the children. You’ll be surprised at their creativity!

6. Get organized in advance. Some things can be done well before Christmas. Think about preparing any make-ahead dishes that can be frozen until the party or Christmas dinner. Doing this will allow you to relax a bit during the party!

7. Buy your gifts before the last-minute rush. Shopping on December 23 is just an invitation to stress. So start shopping in late November or early December. If that is truly impossible, bear in mind that shopping malls are less crowded early in the week.

Taking the time to get organized will give you the inspiration to create some unforgettable moments for you and your loved ones this holiday season.

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4 great reasons to give gift cards during the holidays

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Do you find it stressful to pick out personalized gifts for everyone on your list? Are you unsure whether giving your loved ones gift cards is the right thing to do? If so, here are four reasons offering this type of present may be a good choice for you.

1. There are endless options. From ski lift tickets to spa packages and gourmet meals to clothing stores, it’s easy to find a gift card that suits the interests of the person you want to spoil.

2. You won’t disappoint. Rather than risking buying your loved ones a present, they don’t like, giving them a gift card allows them to choose exactly what they want. This is an especially wise option for gift exchanges.

3. You’ll save time. Gift cards are quick and easy to purchase, and buying them will save you the hassle of walking up and down crowded store aisles. Simply head straight to the checkout. You can even purchase certain gift cards online.


4. You decide the price. You’re in full control of how much money is loaded onto the gift card. That way, you can spend as much or as little as you want, without having to calculate taxes.

Do you think a gift card is too impersonal? Think again! Simply wrap this present in a pretty box and attach a handwritten note to up the wow factor.

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How to find the perfect present

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Do you strive to give the perfect gift? Whether it’s for someone you’ve known for years or only a few months, here are some tips to help you accomplish this holiday feat.

Think about the person’s interests
You can brainstorm on your own or ask a friend or family member to help you come up with ideas. Consider the person’s hobbies and interests. Are they tech-savvy? Do they enjoy being physically active? Do they like to cook? What are their passions? Even if the answers to these questions don’t give you a clear idea, they may still point you in the right direction.

Take your time to find the right item
Avoid making an impulse buy or waiting until the last minute. If you rush to find the perfect present, you risk panicking and purchasing something the person may not like. By planning ahead, you’ll be able to carefully think about what would make a great gift.

In addition, when you browse your local stores, make sure to ask sales associates for their insights and recommendations.


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What to give a globetrotter for Christmas

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Do you know someone who’s planning to travel? Whether it’s for a short stay in a single location or a long tour across multiple destinations, here are some gift ideas to ensure they have a fun-filled trip.

Everyday living
Give the traveler in your life a gift they’re sure to need while abroad. Consider purchasing an international plug adapter, a charging station with several USB ports, a multi-tool, or a waterproof bag for their laundry.

Luggage
Help your world traveler zip through airport security with practical items. For example, a luggage scale is useful to have on hand to make sure suitcases aren’t overweight. In addition, vacuum-seal bags are perfect for compressing large items such as sweaters and jackets to make more room inside the luggage.

Travel essentials
Spoil your loved ones with handy products they can take with them as they jet around the world. For example, you could look into getting them a portable charger, an e-reader, a camera, a collapsible water bottle, or a foldable backpack. In addition, high-quality earbuds or earphones are a great gift.


Visit the stores in your area to find these items or discover further gift ideas for the traveler on your shopping list.

 

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Smart tips for well-written holiday cards

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The time has come once again to send out holiday cards. If you’re not sure what to write to your friends and relatives, here’s some advice.

Give yourself plenty of time
Whether you want to send your cards by mail or electronically, avoid waiting till the last minute to get started. Not only do you risk forgetting someone, but a rushed card won’t have the same sentiment as a message you took the time to reflect on.

Craft a personalized message
The standard greetings that appear in most store-bought cards or online templates can be a good starting point. However, regard¬less of whether the cards you choose include text, be sure to add a personal touch so the message reflects your relationship with the recipient.

If you’re very close with the person, don’t hesitate to mention recent or upcoming events such as their plans to buy a house or a trip they just took. Has it been a while since you caught up? Consider extending an invitation for a phone call or coffee date after the holidays. The most important thing is to be sincere.


Be optimistic about the future
In addition to wishing the person a happy holiday, include a positive message about the new year. While you shouldn’t disregard any recent hardship the person may have experienced, the idea is to share some hope for the future.

Remember, you can be as creative as you want with your holiday cards. Just be sure to write from the heart.

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Downtown Market

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Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Family Preservation Services

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Groups Recover Together

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

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Main Street Travel

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Mountain Trails

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Northwestern Community Services Board

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

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Royal Examiner

Royal Oak Bookshop

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Salvation Army

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

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The Studio-A Place for Learning

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Dec
1
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 1 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
4
Sat
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Dec 4 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
Dec 4 @ 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of the seasonal ballet The Nutcracker, to be presented in Front Royal, VA, on Saturday, December 4th, 2021. 1:00 and 5:00 pm Tickets: $35[...]
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 4 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meets in the Historic Area behind Mount Bleak. Discover our International Dark Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and[...]
Dec
5
Sun
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Dec 5 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Sunday, December 5, 2021 4:00pm First Baptist Church of Winchester 205 West Piccadilly St. | Winchester, VA 22601 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church[...]
Dec
8
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
10
Fri
7:30 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Dec 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church 1 West Main Street | Front Royal, VA 22630 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108[...]
Dec
12
Sun
3:00 pm Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale's Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
This year’s yuletide concert is titled THIS SHINING NIGHT.  Join us for a selection of seasonal songs — ranging in style from classical to spirituals to pop — sure to brighten your holiday and lift[...]
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108 John Mosby Hwy. | Upperville, VA 20184 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees
Dec
15
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 15 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]