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Peanuts' Linus Explains Christmas!

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Monique and I made a visit to Springfield's Chiara Center during this Christmas season to review over 130 nativities on display for the annual Franciscan Nativity Festival. This was my second year to enjoy seeing the nativities in that beautiful setting. There were so many varieties exhibited from the complex to the simple, ceramic to wood, and hand-crafted to store bought. Each one had been loaned out for the event by owners who doubtless have cherished them for years! This "Nativity Arts' Revue" has become an important part of my annual Christmas observance!

Typically, I am taken in by those depictions that retell the Christmas story in a straightforward, simple and uncluttered way. Last year, I wrote about the Yupik (Eskimo) aboriginal peoples who visualized that first Christmas night of Christ's birth as occurring in an igloo with Mary and Joseph donning parkas (see A Fanciful Christmas Story, 12-6-18).

This year, my fancy fell upon a rendition of the Christm…

Christmas in Pink!

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I have a question for you, "Is pink a Christmas color?" Monique recently completed writing her annual Christmas newsletter for family and friends both far and near. We have been sending this holiday update for years. It is a practice that was started by my father-in-law when Monique was a little girl. Back then, Bro. Bob Eppinette (her dad was a Baptist pastor!) humorously and I think, accurately, titled his newsletter: "From the Mad House!"

Anyway, now that the Keppler newsletter has been written, the next tasks are to print, put them into an envelope with a picture and affix the postage for mailing. However, it is the matter of printing that concerned Mrs. Santa this year. What color would be chosen from the paper supply for the printing? I suggested that we did not have sufficient copies of the red or green paper in our storage, so, "What about pink?" She tersely replied, "That's not a Christmas color!" I begged to differ without convinci…

High School Football Takeaway

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Williamsville Community Unit 15 High School is still whooping it up after winning its first state football championship! It was a come-from-behind game in the last thirty seconds! The Bullets had the early lead in the first half only to lose it in the second. They regained the winning advantage over their worthy opponent, the Byron Tigers, at game's end with a final score of 46 to 42. One commentator expressed what others felt who were at Huskie Stadium, listening on the radio or watching the game on television by saying, "A game like that just gives you chills!" This exciting event was held Friday evening, November 29 on the campus of Northern Illinois University in Dekalb.

The Williamsville Bullets are led by head coach Aaron Kunz who is in his 16th season at the helm. Just before the game, Kunz was heard telling his players, "This is why you have made all the sacrifices to be excellent. Now, let's get it done today. Right here! Right now!" And they did! …

"You've Gotten Some Bad Fuel!"

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We recently had some trouble with one of our cars not starting immediately. It was uncharacteristic for this vehicle that it took three tries for it to finally "fire the cylinders." This is our second car that is used locally for short distance driving to the school, post office, grocery and drug stores. Monique depends on it and when something like this happens, she quickly loses confidence in "her car!"

I tried to diagnose it without success. A quick check of the battery showed it to be fully charged. The starter didn't seem to the problem since it started five times in a row. I next thought it might be the fuel pump. Since most cars have that pump in the tank these days, it is impossible to know if this was the problem. I was quickly out of suggestions to explain this anomaly!

So, with anything related to automobiles, the best person I know to consult is my Dad, the lead mechanic of our family. Since December, 1961, Dad has been the proprietor of Joe's A…

What Are You Leaving Behind?

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It was sad that we had to leave some things behind after our five-week visit to Normandy, France this past summer. And I'm not just referring to family or some damaged luggage. During our visit, I got a "hankering" for a good, old fashioned butter cookie to eat along with my evening coffee during movie time. The French know how to bake almost anything delicious, but I had to "get my fix" at the local grocery store. It was a "packaged item," but it hit the spot and became an instant favorite each day. The product was labeled, "Petit e'colier" and was a little buttery biscuit half-dipped in rich milk chocolate. Each one had a royal-like imprint of a little school boy.

My sister-in-law really doesn't regularly eat these sugary delights and certainly is not as fond of them as I am. But when we left behind two boxes on her counter, she decided not to waste them. She ate each 2-pack of cookies until they were all gone... three months later…

"Use Your Words!"

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Our youngest grand daughter, Klaire, is quite precocious! You would expect a "doting grandfather" to say this about any of his grandchildren! She is admittedly pretty smart and aware of things in her 2 1/2 year-old world. By comparison to the eight grandsons, to me, she seems to be ahead in her verbal skills. Now, it was not always that way! She used to squeal when she was frustrated and couldn't make her family understand what it was that she wanted. I distinctly remember hearing her mother repeatedly say something rather adult to her, "Klaire, use your words!"

When our middle son, Marc was a little guy, his brother, Matt, did a lot of the speaking for him. Marc had chronic ear infections that left him unable to hear what was being said and this impacted his ability to speak with clarity. So, he learned the "point and grunt" technique of communicating. For example, in the mornings for breakfast we would open the pantry and ask the boys what cereal th…

"Let There Be Light!"

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Anticipating colder than usual temperatures, I recently had the furnace serviced by a local HVAC company with whom I have had dealings for over twenty-five years. Of course, I had tried to implement a "diy" (do it yourself) strategy to avoid the service call, but noticed while vacuuming the ash from the burners and rechecking my filters that the pilot light was not functioning. It is true that I only have a rudimentary knowledge of the inner workings of a furnace, but I have re-lighted a few pilot lights in my time. So, I thought I would give it a try.

While holding down on the gas control knob for the recommended 30 to 60 seconds and using my handy-dandy long reach butane lighter, I was able to immediately re-light the pilot and admire  the beautiful blue flame it emitted. However, I soon discovered that the flame would not hold after releasing the button. A quick search on the computer gave me some needed information. The problem was likely due to a failure with the "…