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The Wonderful World of Rudolpha: The lost button

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The children at the North Pole Animal Day Care are decorating paper snowmen. While they cut, paste and color, their teacher, Rudolpha the reindeer, notices that Frost the snowy owl looks sad.

“Is there a problem with your snowman, Frost?” she asks kindly.

“I wanted red buttons but there are just yellow ones left. Yellow’s not a Christmas color!” Frost tells her.

“Yellow is a great color for a snowman,” Rudolpha tells the young owl. “I’ll tell you all the story of Shiver and you’ll see why.” She gathers her students around her and begins to tell the tale.

“Shiver was a young snowman who wore three buttons: a red one, a blue one and a yellow one. One morning, he couldn’t find the yellow one and he was very upset.

“‘Mom! I can’t find my yellow button!’

“‘That’s too bad,’ said his mother. ‘You can wear one of mine, if you’d like.’ She showed him her collection of green and blue buttons.

“‘No! I want my yellow one. It’s my favorite button, and I wanted to wear it with my yellow scarf to the Christmas party tonight!’

“Shiver searched everywhere for his missing button. He looked in his ice fort, in his father’s sleigh that he’d used to play Santa Claus and even in his mother’s frost garden where he’d picked ice-candies. That’s when Flurry, his new neighbor, joined him.

“‘What are you looking for?’ she asked.

“‘I lost my favorite yellow button! I wanted to wear it to the Christmas party tonight.’ Shiver explained.

“‘A yellow button? I found one this morning when I was on my way to the park! There was no one around, so I brought it home to add to my collection. You can come over to see if it’s yours.’

“When they got to Flurry’s house, she showed Shiver her collection of yellow buttons. There were dozens of them, all different sizes and shapes. Shiver’s beautiful button lay on top. Overjoyed, he picked it up.

“Seeing how happy Shiver was, Flurry said, ‘You can take two more buttons to wear to the party tonight, if you’d like. Choose whichever ones you want.’

“And that night, Shiver went to the Christmas party alongside his new friend wearing three beautiful yellow buttons that matched his favorite scarf perfectly.”

Frost is so taken with Rudolpha’s story that he goes back to the craft table and gives his snowman three beautiful yellow buttons and a scarf to match.

Written by Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Cyan Caruso-Comas

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The Wonderful World of Rudolpha: Bright saves the day

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While the children at the North Pole Animal Day Care are napping, their teacher, Rudolpha the reindeer hears the intercom buzz.

It must be an emergency, she thinks, everyone knows the children are sleeping at this time of the day. But then she hears a familiar voice.

“Sorry Rudolpha, I tried to turn on the light in the pantry and accidentally pressed the button on the intercom,” says Bright, the elf who often helps Nougat the chef elf in the kitchen.

“No problem, my friend. I’m just glad nothing’s wrong,” says Rudolpha, relieved.

She looks up to see five pairs of sleepy eyes peering at her. The call had woken up the children. Knowing they love to listen to stories about the residents of the North Pole, she decides to tell them one about Bright. Gathering her students around her, she starts her story.

“A few years ago, Bright went to a festive little village called Marmot River to try out some new tricks. In the town square was a mailbox reserved for letters to Santa Claus.

“This box already had quite a few letters packed inside. Included in the stash were two red envelopes, one with a message written by Sophia and one with a letter penned by Liam. The two children were sick and confined to the hospital where they shared a room on the third floor. They spent their time there dreaming and talking about the wonderful presents Santa was sure to bring them for Christmas.

“One windy evening, Bright went out to admire the holiday decorations in the village. As she walked merrily along, she saw a snowplow hit Santa’s mailbox. It opened and two envelopes flew out. They were the letters that Sophia and Liam had sent.

“Lifted by a gust of wind, the red envelopes went flying. One landed on a school’s roof and the other on top of a huge pine tree in the playground. Bright knew she had to get them fast, because another blast would likely send them flying even further adrift.

“Luckily, Bright’s an excellent climber, so she was able to easily scramble up the school and tree. However, grabbing the letters wasn’t so simple. The roof was very slippery and the pine needles pricked at her palms through her mittens as she climbed. Finally, with frozen fingers and covered in scratches, she jumped to the ground triumphantly. She put the two red envelopes back in Santa’s mailbox.

“Sophia and Liam never knew that they had a very special elf to thank when they opened their Christmas gifts that year.”

“Did the children get better?” asks Frost the snowy owl.

“Bright was in Marmot River just a few days ago,” says Rudolpha, smiling. “Sophia and Liam are now very healthy grown-ups who own a rock climbing gym together.”

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Offline shopping: 7 reasons to do your holiday shopping in person

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Are you tired of handing over your hard-earned dollars to online retailers? If so, offline shopping is a trend that’s becoming increasingly popular. The principle? Focus on in-person shopping experiences rather than anonymous exchanges on the internet. Here are seven great reasons to do all your holiday shopping offline.

1. To support your community
Making purchases from your local merchants at this busy time of year is a concrete way of giving back to your community. Your money goes directly into your neighbors’ hands and helps to create — and keep! — jobs in your region. In contrast, ordering a gift online from the other side of the world doesn’t help the people closest to home.

2. To connect with people
When you visit the businesses in your region, you get to interact directly with local merchants. Of course, shopping online (in your pajamas?) has its advantages but talking to salespeople and fellow shoppers is even better.

3. To stimulate the local economy
The more people support local retailers, the longer their businesses can continue to thrive and serve the community, thereby creating a strong local economy. What’s more, dynamic neighborhoods are much more pleasant to live in than those whose shops have been forced to close and are accumulating dust, dirt and graffiti.

4. To strengthen your sense of community
Visiting businesses in your neighborhood will increase your ties to the region. When you explore the area around you, you’ll rub elbows with your neighbors and discover amazing goods and services a stone’s throw from your home.

5. To benefit from excellent service
Returns and exchanges are a breeze when the product you’ve purchased comes from a nearby store. And local merchants know they need your business to survive, so they’ll do everything they can to ensure you’re happy. Conversely, returning and exchanging items bought online is sometimes difficult.

6. To enjoy a variety of products
Are you familiar with all of the goods and services available in your region? Probably not. In fact, there are likely more businesses in your area than you realize! Consider spending a day visiting them. You’ll find that in just a few hours, you’ve completed all your holiday shopping and are still close to home.

7. To be kind to the environment
Shopping locally not only eliminates the cost of shipping, but also tends to reduce the distance products travel before reaching you. In addition, you can avoid the need for extra packaging materials when you shop in person, especially if you bring your own tote bags.

This year, go ahead and get your holiday gifts, goodies and decorations a few minutes from home — you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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The Wonderful World of Rudolpha: Nougat’s surprising cake

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The children at the North Pole Animal Day Care are just finishing their lunches when Nougat, the elf chef enters the room.

“Rudolpha, we have a surprise for you!” he announces to the teacher.

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and Jack the elf-of-all-trades come in carrying a huge carrot cake.

“Happy birthday,” they all say.

“Wow!” Rudolpha the reindeer says. “You remembered my birthday.”

“Of course we did,” says Nougat.

They set the cake in front of Rudolpha who blows out the candles and starts to serve everyone.

Jack takes one bite and spits it out, “Nougat! What did you put in the cake?”

“The usual ingredients,” answers Nougat defensively.

“My dear, it’s, um, not good,” says Mrs. Claus gently, “it’s much too salty and sort of tastes like…”

“Soy sauce,” Santa finishes for her.

“What? That’s impossible!” says Nougat.

Jack puts a consoling hand on Nougat’s shoulder. “There must be an explanation.”

The elf couple goes to the kitchen to investigate. Nougat starts to open the cupboards. “You see,” he says, handing the vanilla extract to Jack, “everything’s in the same place as usual. I couldn’t have made a mistake.”

“Nougat, didn’t you smell this? It’s soy sauce!” exclaims Jack.

“Actually, I can’t really smell anything,” admits Nougat, “I have a cold. In any case, that’s where the vanilla goes. And this? Is this sugar?”

Jack tastes it. “No, this is salt.”

“What? I just don’t understand how this could have happened!”

Suddenly, Tricksy the elf pops up from behind the counter. “Um, Nougat?” she says, “I moved your ingredients to play a trick on you. I was sure you’d realize as soon as you opened the jars. I didn’t know you have a cold.”

“Great joke, Tricksy. You ruined my surprise for Rudolpha and made me look like a fool.”

“I’m really sorry, Nougat. I’ll help you put everything back and make a new cake, I promise.”

Nougat never stays angry for very long. “Thank you Tricksy, that’s a good idea,” he says.

Nougat and Tricksy get to work. After the children’s nap, everyone gathers in the day care once again. They laugh, talking about the terrible salt and soy sauce cake from this morning.

“All’s well that ends well,” says Rudolpha, “I’ll have a funny story to tell my grandchildren one day. This carrot cake is delicious, Nougat and Tricksy. Thank you for making this an unforgettable birthday.”

Written by Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Cyan Caruso-Comas

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Gifts for 5 types of enthusiast

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Finding the perfect gift isn’t always easy, especially when the person you’re shopping for is passionate about things you don’t know much about. Here are some gift ideas for five types of enthusiast.

1. Coffee lovers. An insulated travel mug, beans from a local roaster, an espresso maker, a conical burr grinder, coffee flavored chocolates, double-walled coffee glasses, travel coffee press or coffee-scented candles.

2. Yarn crafters. Books or magazines with knitting and crocheting patterns, a row counter, a yarn bowl, a set of needles or hooks, a project bag, a tool case, personalized stitch markers, high quality yarn or a gift certificate to a yarn store.

3. Aspiring writers. A mechanical keyboard, a laptop tray, noise-cancelling headphones, a fountain pen, personalized notebooks, a Bluetooth keyboard for their tablet, an external hard drive, books about writing or a printer.

4. Tabletop gamers. A dice bag, a wooden card holder, plastic card protectors, a board game bag, custom game organizers, a play mat, a component organizer, new dice, a custom character figurine or an expansion pack for their favorite game.

5. Environmentalists. Reusable stainless steel or silicone straws, reusable produce bags, silicone snack and sandwich bags, a reusable water bottle, jewelry made from recycled materials, beeswax food wraps for leftovers or a vegan cookbook.

Buying a gift that speaks to your loved one’s interests will show them that you care.

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How to choose the perfect Christmas tree

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Do you love seeing and smelling a real Christmas tree in your home? If so, here are some tips for choosing the perfect one.

Determine what size
Choose a spot in your home to place your tree and don’t forget to measure it to make sure you don’t come home with one that’s too tall. The spot you select should be away from air vents so that the tree doesn’t prematurely dry out.

Choose the tree

To choose the right tree, look for one with needles that are shiny and uniformly green. When you crush the needles between your fingers, they should release a strong, fresh scent. Lift the tree and make sure that it’s heavy, that the needles stay on and that the trunk is slightly sticky.

Care for the tree
Store your tree outdoors or in the garage until you’re ready to decorate it. Right before you do, cut about an inch of the trunk off the bottom. This will allow your tree to soak up the water it needs to thrive indoors.

Put your tree in the stand and fill the basin with water. Make sure to add water daily so your tree doesn’t dry up. Wait a few hours for the branches and needles to settle before you start decorating.

A dry Christmas tree is a fire hazard. To minimize the risk, make sure to give it enough water, keep it far from the fireplace and use lights that don’t emit heat.

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The Wonderful World of Rudolpha: Mistral and the magic blanket

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Mistral the penguin is very excited when he arrives at the North Pole Animal Day Care. He quickly says hello to his teacher, Rudolpha the reindeer, and then runs to see his friends, holding a bag.

“I found the magic blanket!” he announces, jumping up and down.

The other children look confused. They’ve never heard of a magic blanket before.

“The one from the legend?” asks Rudolpha.

Mistral is amazed. “You know penguin legends?”

“What’s the legend?” asks Storm the fox impatiently.

Rudolpha invites the children to gather in a circle around her and tells them the tale.

“Many years ago, the Enchanted Penguin wove a magic blanket for his wife who was very sick. This special blanket had the power to keep the wearer perfectly comfortable; not too hot and not too cold, no matter the weather.

“After his wife got better, the other penguins tried to claim the blanket for themselves and conflict overtook the community. So, to put an end to the matter, the Enchanted Penguin hid the blanket somewhere in the North Pole. No one knows where he hid it and it hasn’t been seen for many years”

“But I found it,” declares Mistral, “and I’m going to give it to my Grandpa Gale for Christmas. He’s old and can’t flap his wings and walk in place to stay warm anymore, so he can never take me fishing, even when I lend him my warmest hat.”

“Where was it?” asks Frost, the snowy owl.

“In Floe Creek?” guesses Storm.

“No,” says Mistral.

“On the Windy Plains?” proposes Bianca the rabbit.

“Nope.”

“I know!” declares Frost, “on Mystery Beach!”

Mistral shakes his head. “I went to the source of One Thousand Waterfalls with my cousin Pampero and we searched for hours. We turned over huge boulders, swam in the pools of each waterfall —”

“Of all 1,000 waterfalls?” interrupts Snowflake, incredulous.

“You know, there aren’t actually that many waterfalls, the area is just called that because there are many small falls in the area,” explains Rudolpha.

“Anyway, it took us forever,” continues Mistral, “but finally, behind the highest waterfall, we discovered a cave. The blanket was there, inside a chest.” He pulled out his treasure from his backpack.

“Wow,” intone his friends as they gaze at the shimmering blanket.

“Your grandpa is going to love his gift, Mistral. You should be very proud of yourself,” Rudolpha tells him.

The little penguin smiles, thinking about how happy Grandpa Gale will be when he opens his gift on Christmas morning—and about the next time they go fishing at Floe Creek.

Written by Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Cyan Caruso-Comas

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
48°
Cloudy
07:1916:50 EST
Feels like: 47°F
Wind: 3mph SSE
Humidity: 91%
Pressure: 29.81"Hg
UV index: 0
MonTueWed
min 51°F
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Quotes

Upcoming Events

Dec
10
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 10 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
Dec
11
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 11 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
12
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 12 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
13
Fri
6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]