A Dark and Stormy Night

Linda Ho

It was a dark and stormy night. The fierce wind swirled relentlessly around the rustic oak cabin nestled in a lonely valley of the Smoky Mountains. By nightfall, snow drifts covered the three small windows of the one-room lodge built by the early pioneers of the Tennessee Valley.

Five-year-old twins Jeremiah and Johanna were huddled next to the fireplace, mesmerized by the crackling sounds of pine logs set ablaze and their brightly dancing embers. The warmth of the fire snuggled them in a cocoon of safety against the frightening storm.  (More…)

My Tiny Christmas Trees

Jane Applegate Belzer

Years ago, in another life, a full-size Christmas tree would stand in my living room in late December, hung with lights and ornaments. But sometime in January the tinsel had to come down, and a litter of pine needles had to be cleared away. One year those needles even broke my vacuum cleaner. 

Remarried now, and to a man of other holidays and other traditions, I’ve channeled my nostalgia for the Christmas trees of childhood into collecting miniatures. The first came from the Brandywine Valley ten years ago. Since then, they have multiplied during our travels in the United States and abroad. And every December some of them come out to march across the mantelpiece and hearth, the solution to ecumenical Christmas decoration in a mixed household – without the pine needles.

Let me introduce you to a few of my tree friends:  (More…)