Shop Local Magazine 2021

Page 1

Shop Small

Main Street offers many unique shopping opportunities


Six Decades of Christmas

Slaymaker’s home a much visited location


TABLE OF CONTENTS Editor & Publisher Chris and Ashley Walker

16-18 Six Decades of Christmas The house on the corner of Drury Lane and Huntington Road is always a signal that Christmas is coming soon.

Writers Richard Burkhard Ashley Walker Copy Editor Ryann Brooks Ashley Walker Marketing Bri Julo Molly Mills Graphic Design Margie McHaley Dan Ferrell For more information: 517 Merchant St. Emporia, KS 66801 620-342-4800

4-9 Shop Small

22-23 AceItUp

30-31 Tree tips

Main Street offers many unique shopping opportunities

Memorial Christmas Tree Lighting returns for third year

Picking a winner and keeping it fresh

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5 ways to support small businesses this holiday shopping season Small businesses have long been the heart and soul of local communities. But what is a “small business,” really? “Usually, small businesses are either independent in nature [or] may be regional in nature,” said Casey Woods, Emporia Main Street Executive Director. “It’s not something that you’re going to find everywhere in the United States.” “Over 80% of our membership,” said Jeanine McKenna, Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. There is something to be said about being on a first-name basis with a local restaurateur or another small business owner,


as such familiarity often translates into exemplary service. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.9% of companies in the country, due in large part to the broad definition of small businesses (those with fewer than 500 employees). However, the vast majority of businesses in the United States have a staff that’s smaller than 20 workers, according to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “Some of our small businesses will have two or

three people,” Woods said, “up to 25 or 30 for a larger small business.” McKenna used a number of “50 employees or less” for how she defines a small business. These firms employ nearly 60 million workers, says the SBA. Woods says their economic impact is important. “These are local jobs – local property taxes, local sales taxes,” Woods explained. “A lot of these local businesses are supporting other local endeavors. So those dollars stay home.”

“Keeping those tax dollars local benefits all of us,” McKenna added. Despite the prevalence of small businesses, fewer than 80% of entrepreneurial small business ventures make it beyond their first year, and only around half make it beyond five years. Consumers who want to help their favorite small businesses survive can use the holiday season and beyond to set the course for success. Consumers can make a concerted effort to fuel this important cog in their local economic engines.


Shop local. The concept is simple but effective. Opting to shop in local stores over larger conglomerates and franchises can help small businesses take root. Before making holiday shopping lists, visit local stores and base gift ideas on items they have in stock. Chances are those gifts will be one-of-a-kind.


Purchase gift cards/ certificates. All businesses have slow periods, and post-holidays is often a time when sales stagnate. Gift cards may bring new customers into local businesses who might otherwise not have patronized them, potentially creating new repeat customers.


Cater holiday meals and gatherings. The holiday season is chockfull of entertainment opportunities. Individuals can rely on nearby restaurants and other food and beverage businesses to cater holiday parties. Some businesses also may be willing to discount or donate food for nonprofit group activities, such as church holiday bazaars, school holiday concerts or fundraising fairs.


Mention small businesses on social media. The holiday season breeds excitement. Therefore, when shoppers are in local stores, they can snap pictures of products and overflowing shopping bags and post them online while praising local businesses.


Think about subscription gifts. Enrollment in a health club or a massage therapy service are gifts that keep on giving for the recipient, but also help ensure consistent incoming cash for the business providing the service.


When shopping this holiday season, consumers can look to the small, local businesses in their communities that help make towns and cities unique. WINTER 2021 | 5


The benefits of in-person holiday shopping

Emporia Main Street has activities throughout the year. But Saturday, Nov. 27 is one of the most important. “We celebrate our Small Business Saturday event,” Executive Director Casey Woods said. “We will have our elf hunt.” No weapons are required – only good eyes. The search will encourage shoppers to visit numerous downtown shops in person. “We’ll have a series of drawings from that event,” Woods said. Woods hopes that an “old normal” will return, after a 2020 holiday season which was unlike any other.

The COVID-19 pandemic was still affecting daily life across the globe over the final months of last year, prompting many families and individuals to alter holiday traditions they’d embraced for decades. That included how people shop. Many people avoided in person holiday shopping in 2020. The successful rollout of various COVID-19 vaccines has made in person shopping safe again. But if you still have an abundance of caution, Emporia Area

Chamber of Commerce members understand. “Even if you want to take precautions, our local businesses are willing to work with you,” chamber executive director Jeanine McKenna said. “Many still offer curbside convenience.” That’s good news for local businesses and great news for shoppers, who may have forgotten just how much they can benefit from shopping in person. “You know exactly what you’re going to get and

when you’re going to get it,” Woods said. “You know the quality and the people who are selling it to you.” The Flint Hills Optimist Club will offer in-person tree sales beginning Thanksgiving Friday outside Guion’s Showcase, West Sixth Avenue and Prairie. “Everyone that works at the tree lot is a club member,” president Steve Younger said. “No one is paid any wages to work the lot.” All proceeds will go to non-profit programs.

Other advantages of in person shopping: In-person shopping is convenient. Much is made of the convenience of online shopping. And it’s undeniable that the ability to shop at all hours of the day and night is convenient. However, in person shopping, especially when shopping for others, is much more convenient than shoppers may realize. When shopping in person, shoppers can get a feel for an item, size it up and even inspect its quality prior to purchasing it. That can save shoppers from that disappointing feeling of receiving an item in the mail only to realize it’s poorly made or oddly sized and therefore unlikely to fit its eventual recipient.

In-person shopping isn’t all about shipping. Shipping speed is a significant factor for online shoppers, and that may affect just which gift they give come the holiday season. According to a Dotcom report titled “How Fast Delivery and Quality Packaging Drives Customer Loyalty,” 87% of shoppers surveyed indicated shipping was a key factor when deciding whether to shop with an e-commerce brand again. That’s an important consideration, as shoppers may be more inclined to buy an item from a retailer simply because of their shipping speed capabilities and not because of the quality of the item and whether or not it’s what they want to give to their loved one. Shopping in person removes shipping from the equation, ensuring gift givers will give a gift they truly want to give and not just the one that will arrive on time.

In-person shopping allows for more accessible browsing. Within minutes of entering a store and walking around, shoppers may see a handful of gifts that will ultimately be great for various people on their lists, even if they had no idea what to get prior to entering. That ability to browse is more difficult when shopping online, especially when buying from online retailers with massive inventories of a range of products. Such sites often require visitors to pick a category to streamline their searches. That’s not always easy or enjoyable for shoppers who cherish the opportunity to uncover hidden gems or more unique gifts that aren’t available all over the internet.

In-person shopping gets shoppers out of the house. Since the onset of the pandemic, people have spent more time than ever within the confines of their homes. The 2021 holiday shopping season provides a great opportunity to get out of the house and disconnect from devices. Shoppers can even do so alongside friends and family members they weren’t able to see last holiday season. “You just can’t do [that] with big faceless online portals,” Woods noted.



Major advantages to early holiday shopping Supply chain problems are binding the plans of many people. Even for a bunch of Optimists. “There’s a tree shortage,” said Steve Younger, Flint Hills Optimist Club president. “It’s likely that we will sell out this year.” The Optimists could not order as many Christmas trees for their year-end fundraiser in Emporia. It’s one example of why the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce considers it especially important this year to shop early. “Businesses, no matter what type... are worried about what is going to be available in their stores,” said Jeanine McKenna, Chamber Executive Director. “They need to start their holiday shopping now, if they haven’t.” That’s easier for some people than others. Some begin their holiday

countdowns the day after the festivities have come and gone. With 365 days until the next celebration, it may seem like one has all the time in the world to complete holiday tasks. But before long, holiday crunch time arrives and some people find themselves rushing around to buy gifts and other essentials. “A lot of guys have the moniker of waiting until the last minute,” said Casey Woods, Emporia Main Street executive director. A 2020 Gallup poll found the average holiday shopper planned to spend $942 on gifts in 2019. The personal finance site from Intuit reported roughly $729 billion was spent during the holidays in 2019 — making it the biggest hol-

iday season to date. Though the pandemic changed the holiday shopping landscape in 2020, a return to normalcy appears to be on the horizon for the 2021 holiday shopping season. In fact, the adage of “the early bird catches the worm” could help shoppers scoop up gifts and bargains before the holiday shopping rush begins. “There are some people that shop early,” Woods said. “It depends on what your internal methodology is like.” If that’s your method, Woods says some downtown small businesses are ready. “They’re making things that are part of what they’re offering their clientele,” Woods said.

Emporia Main Street gift certificates and logo items also are available at various stores. McKenna says “if all else fails,” the chamber has a gift certificate program as well. “We have over 80 businesses that accept the Shop Emporia gift certificate,” McKenna said. They can be purchased online now or in-person at the Chamber office, 719 Commercial Street. But you won’t be able to shop for trees from the Optimists until Thanksgiving Friday. That’s when their lot will open in the parking lot of Guion’s Showcase, West 6th Ave. And Prairie. Individuals who start their holiday shopping early this year may discover there are many benefits to such an approach.

Spread out spending

Those who begin shopping well before the holiday season arrives can spread their spending over several months rather than a short period of time. This can make shopping more affordable for those who may have limited financial leeway. It may be easier to swallow spending an extra $100 per month throughout the year as opposed to having a $1,000 bill at year’s end.

Shop sales

A Coresight Research survey found that more than 25% of shoppers expected to start holiday shopping earlier than usual in 2020, when retailers offered their promotions earlier than normal to compensate for a decline in brick-and-mortar shopping. While it remains to be seen what retailers will do this year, shopping early means people are not beholden only to holiday sales promotions; they can take advantage of major

sales throughout the year, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, back to school season, tax-free weekends (often offered in August), and even retailer-specific sales like Prime Day.

Avoid delays

Continued pressure on shipping companies as online shopping has become so prevalent inadvertently leads to delays. Couple this with supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic, and certain items may be out of stock or on back order. “With potential product shortages continuing, if you see something you know you want, go ahead and buy it,” said Karl Haller, retail industry expert at IBM Global Business Services. Shopping early also assists those who have to ship gifts domestically or internationally. Shopping early ensures those presents get to their recipients on time.


Getting a head start on holiday shopping is advantageous to shoppers who want to budget, save and ensure items are available.

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Area Holiday Events

Christmas Parade

Nov. 30, 2021 7:00 Pm - 8:30 Pm Commercial St.

Happy Holidaze Christmas lights Emporia Zoo Nov. 23 - Jan. 1 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Salvation Army Angel Trees Nov. 16 - Dec. 15

AceItUp Christmas Tree Lighting Sunday, Nov. 27 White Memorial Park, Emporia See Page 22

Salvation Amy Kettle Campaigns Nov. 23 - Christmas Eve

Care Packages for Our Troops

Oct. 4 - Dec. 1 , 2021 Emporia Main Street Each year Emporia Main Street works with members of the Freedom Fest committee to send care packages overseas to our service men and women. WINTER 2021 | 11


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Tips and tricks for cutting out cookies Baking is a holiday tradition in many households. The aroma of freshly baked cakes, pies and cookies wafts through the air of many homes this time of year, and that makes the holiday season even more special. Cookies are a tradition passed down through the ages. In medieval Europe, small, spiced cookies were exchanged as treats, and people still bake and share gingerbread cookies today. Cut cookies are some of the most popular cookies to make during the holiday season. Some families may have their share of favorite cookie cutter shapes and dough recipes. Certain techniques can make holiday baking sessions easier and ensure consistent results. • Work on a lightly floured, cool surface, such as a cutting board or stone counter top. Never work on a warm surface, which can cause dough to spread and stick. • Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking or parchment paper. Betty Crocker recommends a thickness of about 1⁄8 inch, unless noted in the


recipe. This prevents the dough from sticking, and parchment enables you to easily transfer rolled-out dough to a refrigerator or elsewhere. • When rolling out dough, portion it out into a few smaller amounts to roll out more easily. This will also help it to chill more readily.

• Cookies cut most easily when the dough is chilled. Refrigerate the dough for as long as possible, ideally an hour or more — even overnight. The more chilled, the firmer the dough will be. • Rubber rolling pin rings that slip onto each side of the rolling pin can help ensure that the dough is being rolled out to a uniform thickness. • Dip cookie cutters into flour with each cut. Work from the center and move out to the edges when cutting out your designs. Try to maximize space and avoid scraps and rerolling. • Some expert bakers say that metal cookie cutters cut cleaner than plastic ones. Whichever cutter you use, cut the cookie by pressing straight down; try not to twist or jiggle the cookie cutter when using it. Doughs with a high butter content can help, as the extra grease helps separate the dough from the cutters. • If cut cookies have gotten warmer, place them in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up again and then cook. This will guarantee the cookies will not spread or distort while baking.

Treat guests to a beloved holiday staple T

he holiday season is steeped in tradition. Many traditions are decades if not centuries old, while others do not have such lengthy histories. One younger tradition that many people cannot go without during the holiday season is centered around a wildly popular bever-

age made at coffeehouses. The peppermint mocha was introduced during the 2002 holiday season and the beverage became something of an instant classic. Holiday hosts can bring the peppermint mocha into their own homes this

holiday season with a DIY recipe for the “Peppermint Mocha.” This holiday recipe can impress their guests and satisfy their cravings for this beloved beverage should families find themselves snowed in during their holiday gatherings this year.

DIY PEPPERMINT MOCHA 1 fluid ounce coffee or 1 shot espresso Christmas Blend or Espresso Roast Coffee 1⁄2 cup milk (or dairy alternative)

2 tablespoons peppermint-flavored syrup 3 tablespoons mocha sauce Whipped Cream Dark chocolate or shaving

1. On a stovetop, heat milk on medium setting. Whisk the milk to make foam about 30 seconds. Set aside. (Or, use an electric milk frother at home if you have one.) 2. Pour two tablespoons chocolate sauce and two tablespoons peppermint syrup into bottom of 12-ounce or larger coffee mug. 3. Add one shot of brewed espresso. (Don’t have an espresso machine? Make concentrated coffee by using less water in an alternative brewing method.) 4. Fill mug with steamed milk. 5. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Makes one 12-ounce beverage

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1123 Drury Lane. The address may not ring a bell, but come December, the house on the corner of Drury Lane and Huntington Road is always a signal that Christmas is coming soon. Quite likely the longest running and most expansive Christmas yard display in Emporia’s history, Ron Slaymaker and his late-wife Shirley, have been spreading holiday cheer by transforming their yard into a Christmas wonderland since they built their home on what was then the outskirts of town in 1963. With nearly 200 strands of lights and a vast collection of eclectic decorations, featuring both handcrafted and unique pieces from Emporia’s past, the home has become an icon in town during the holiday season for nearly six decades. A lot has changed in the neighborhood since the Slaymakers started developing the Christmas tableau 60 years ago. When he and Shirley first started, the roads

around their house were dirt and they were only one of three houses in the area. Today, their house is the center of the windy roads of Country Club Heights and it is still a regular stop for drivers from all over town making their annual tour through Emporia’s best holiday displays. Passers-by will certainly find the traditional Christmas symbols in the Slaymakers yard, like Baby Jesus, the Nativity, and Santa, his reindeer and Rudolph; but they won’t see inflatables, or moving characters often synonymous with much of today’s holiday merchandise. That’s because the Slaymakers have always loved and appreciated antique and vintage items that are reminders of yesteryear. “Both Shirley and I really

gravitated to old things,” Ron said. “We grew up loving antiques.” One of the focal points of the Slaymaker Christmas display is a life-size vintage plywood Nativity scene, featuring camels, the town of Bethlehem and plenty of donkeys and sheep. The Slaymakers bought the hand painted set from Newman Department store when they went out of business in the late 1990s. Ron isn’t quite sure of it’s history but speculates that the Nativity was once used in the annual Emporia Schools Christmas Program in the 70s and 80s. Other pieces of the yard display include an original black antique sleigh pulled by nine flying reindeer with Rudolph in the lead, of course.

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“It is a lot of work, but I get great pleasure out of doing it.” ­— Ron Slaymaker

“Santa just fits perfectly in there,” Ron said, with a little twinkle in his eye. In fact, Ron said, if they’re lucky — and on special nights — visitors may even get a wave, a “ Ho-Ho-Ho” and a car-window greeting from St. Nick himself while driving by. Many who enjoyed the display when they were growing up in town are now sharing the tradition with their own children. For Kendra Cain-Price, Slaymakers always topped the list for Christmas-light gazing when she was a young girl growing up in Emporia. “I love that I get to share the memories of driving past the Slaymaker Christmas display that I had as a child now with my own children,” she said. Alicia Goss agrees. “The look on my kids’ faces when they see all of the lights is priceless! It’s such a special tradition.” that we get to s

Sixty years is a long time to continue a tradition that requires hauling over 50 different pieces (many heavy and awkward) out of storage and into just the right place in his yard. But it’s something Ron finds great pleasure in doing


year after year. “It is a lot of work,” he said. “But I get great pleasure out of doing it.” It comes down to a slogan the former ESU basketball coach likes to live by: “Help enough other people get what

they want, then you get what you want.” And certainly, over the years, generations of Emporians have received much holiday cheer by driving past 1123 Drury Lane at Christmastime.

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AceItUp Christmas Tree Lighting returns for third year



After a virtual event last year, the Ace It Up Christmas Tree Lighting is back with even more ways to celebrate the season. Scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 28 at White Memorial Park, on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Merchant Street, the third annual Christmas celebration has become an anticipated time for the whole community to celebrate the season and much more. “During the AceItUp Christmas Tree Lighting we slow down and take time to remember our loved ones that are celebrating the season in heaven,” said Amy Garate, the coordinator of the event. Carlos and Amy Garate lost their 13-year-old son, Ace, in a car accident in 2019. This event was first created as a way for them to remember their son that first Christmas without him. The evening will consist of live Christmas music, hot cocoa and treats, photo opportunities, a toy drive for St. Francis Ministries, and the dramatic lighting of the towering AceItUp Christmas tree in the center of the park.

Aarceate G A new addition to the celebration this year will be a gingerbread house decorating contest, with entry fees going toward St. Francis Ministries. The needs of local foster children have always been close to the hearts of the Garate Family. “There are approximately 115 area foster children that are displaced and live in fear of tomorrow,” Amy said. “Without dona-

tions from the community, many foster children may go without experiencing the magic of Christmas.” Since its inception, the Garates wanted the AceItUp Tree Lighting ceremony to be used to honor their son’s legacy by bringing joy and comfort to foster children during this special time of year. “As a community, let’s show them that they do matter, and that their community is their family. That one special thing that they receive on Christmas morning just might be the one thing that gives them hope for the entire year to come!” Ace was known as a kid who was always looking for ways to help others in his school and in his community. He is remembered by many for his kindness and giving nature. The AceItUp Fund was created to continue Ace’s legacy of giving and kindness in a variety of ways throughout the community. For more information about the AceItUp Christmas Tree Lighting, the gingerbread contest or the AceItUp Fund go to the AceItUp Facebook page.

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‘Tis the season for gingerbread cookies T

radition plays a big role during the holiday season. Food is at the center of many families’ traditions, which may include big family dinners and Sunday brunches together. Holiday baking sessions also hold a sacred spot in many households. Such sessions are a great opportunity for adults and children to have some fun in the kitchen and create some tasty treats the whole family can enjoy. Baked goods devotees may find it hard to imagine the holidays without gingerbread, and this recipe for “Soft Glazed Gingerbread” from Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s “Tartine” (Chronicle Books) can ensure the whole family enjoys this holiday season staple.

Soft Glazed Gingerbread DOUGH 33⁄4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon cocoa powder 4 teaspoons ground ginger 11⁄2 teaspoons ground cloves 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 11⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg 1⁄2 cup blackstrap or other dark molasses 2 tablespoons light corn syrup GLAZE 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 2 tablespoons water

To make the dough, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and mix well. Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and all the ingredients are well incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it on a large piece of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper on a nonstick liner. Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface. If using a plaque with a design, roll out the dough 1⁄3-inch thick, lightly dust the top with flour, press your cookie molds over the dough, and then cut out the shapes with a small knife and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Alternatively, using the mold as a guide, cut around it with a small knife, flip the mold over so the design is facing you, and place the dough over it, pressing it into the design. Unmold the shapes onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them. If using a patterned rolling pin, lightly dust the lined baking sheet with flour and transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it into a rectangle about 1⁄3-inch thick with a plain pin. Then, using the patterned pin, roll over the dough with enough pressure to ensure a clear impression of the design. Trim the sides with a small knife. It is not necessary to cut into smaller sizes before baking. Bake the cookies until lightly golden along the sides but still soft to the touch in the centers, 7 to 15 minutes. The timing will depend on the size of the individual cookies, or if you have made a single large patterned piece that will be cut after baking. While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth. When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, while the cookies are still warm, using even strokes, brush a light coat of glaze on the top of each cookie, evenly covering it. Let the cookies cool completely. When the glaze dries, it should leave a shiny, opaque finish. If you have used a patterned pin to make a single large plaque, cut into the desired sizes with a small, very sharp knife. The cookies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for about 2 weeks. They do not freeze well, however, as the glaze becomes watery when they are thawed. Yields 12 to 20 cookies

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The most popular gift 25 years ago It’s easy for adults to experience a little nostalgia when holiday shopping for their children. The holiday season has long been considered a special time of year, and much of that magic can be traced to the joy kids feel when unwrapping gifts from mom, dad and, of course, Santa Claus. Many parents who now have youngsters at home grew up in the 1990s. When such moms and dads are shopping for holiday gifts this season, they might wonder what was the must-have item for them back when they anxiously awaited the arrival of Christmas morning? According to, who worked in conjunction with the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, 1996 was the year of “Tickle Me Elmo.” This ticklish

toy was the most sought-after item of the 1996 holiday season, and it was so popular that retailers experienced shortages. Those shortages led to some surprising sales

on the secondary market, with figures that will undoubtedly drop some jaws even now, a quarter century after the Tickle Me Elmo craze erupted. Though the Tickle Me Elmo doll retailed for around $30 in 1996, some parents intent on getting their youngsters the most in-demand gift that year reportedly

$1,0 00? !

spent more than $1,000 on a single doll. To put that latter figure into perspective, data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that the average price of a new car in 1996 was $18,525. And according to Yahoo! Finance, drivers in the market for a used car in 1996 could have purchased a 1986 four-door Oldsmobile for just over $2,600.

0 0 6 $2,

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Giving Tuesday a highlight of Christmas season One of the highlights of the holiday season for many Emporia-area non-profit agencies happens every year the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, when they receive checks for varying amounts from the Emporia Community Foundation. GivingTuesday, as it is called, is described by organizers as a “movement that unleashes the power of radical generosity around the world.” Since 2014, GivingTuesday has been associated locally with the announcement of the total amount of donations generated from the community on Match Day in early November. On Nov. 30, representatives from 25 local organizations, serving a variety of needs in the area, will gather at the FlintHills Mall to receive their donor checks. “It’s always an exciting day,” said Ashley Walker, one of the organizers of Food For

Students, a program in town that feeds students who come from food-insecure households. “Food For Students relies heavily on the donations received from Match Day,” she said. “We absolutely could not fund an entire year of to-go bags of food without the community’s generosity this time of year,” she said. This year there will be $60,000 in funds that donors’ gifts will be matched with thanks to: Clint Bowyer 79 Fund; Jane & Bernard Reeble Foundation; Preston Family Trust; Trusler Foundation; WS & EC Jones Testamentary Trust Bank of America, N.A.


Trustee; and the combination of Nick/Jan Laurent and Fred/Paula Neuer. At last year’s GivingTuesday announcement, Emporia Community Foundation Executive Director Becky Nurnberg expressed how meaningful these donations are to the participating agencies: “We’re excited about what [this money] is going to be doing for these groups,” she said. “This is such an amazing, amazing day that we have … A lot of times when you apply for a grant, it can’t be used for operational money. This money can be. You can use it for whatever you want to use it for.” Although Match Day is the most publicized event on GivingTuesday in the Emporia-area, there are many ways to recognize the spirit of the “holiday.” Individuals who want to participate in GivingTuesday

can donate money, food and/ or clothing; start an advocacy campaign; help a neighbor; or commit an act of generosity. Participants need not make their GivingTuesday efforts part of any official event associated with the day, but those who want to can visit to look for volunteering opportunities in and around their communities. Employers and even local governments also may sponsor or host events on GivingTuesday. Twitter users also can use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to promote causes and/or encourage donations throughout the day. Some organizations may match users’ donations up to a predetermined dollar amount, and users can enter #GivingTuesday into the Twitter search engine to discover such efforts. Parents can even help children find ways to participate by visiting

Toast to good health with wassail


he practice of wassailing is a time-honored tradition that has spanned centuries. When wassailing, people go door-todoor, singing and offering a sip of drink from something called a wassail bowl. Most do it to spread holiday cheer and wish good health on their neighbors. The word “wassail” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase “waes hael,” which loosely translates to “good health” or “be

whole.” Wassailing remains popular in some communities, though caroling has overtaken it as a way to spread cheer through singing. Wassail drink was originally made from mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and sugar, according to the holiday customs and traditions resource WhyChristmas. Most wassails are now mulled ciders,

which are popular in late fall — notably around Thanksgiving. Wassail was traditionally enjoyed on Twelfth Night (January 5 or 6), but it can be used to toast to good health and merriment at any time during the holiday season. There are many versions of wassail beverages, including this “Traditional Wassail,” courtesy of “The Farmer’s Almanac.”

Traditional Wassail

5 to 6 large baking apples, peeled and cored (such as Baldwin, Gravenstein, McIntosh, or Stayman Winesap) 1 cup sugar 2 quarts beer or ale

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half, or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground ginger Zest of 1 lemon 11⁄2 cups sherry or sweet red wine

Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the apples into thick slices, and arrange in layers in a covered casserole dish, sprinkling a few teaspoons of sugar over each layer. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. (The apples will get puffy and soft.) While the apples bake, combine the beer, spices, lemon zest, and remaining sugar in a large saucepan. Heat slowly, bringing just to a simmer. (Don’t let the mixture boil.) When it is hot, add the sherry and keep heating until the mixture reaches a simmer again, still not boiling. Place the hot baked apples in a punch bowl, and pour the hot wassail over them. Serve hot. Serves 8 to 12

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A guide to picking the perfect fresh Christmas tree

Come the holiday season, perhaps no tradition evokes the warm and fuzzy “feels” more than a family outing to pick a Christmas tree. Whether it’s a trek to a live Christmas tree farm or a short drive to the nearest pre-cut tree lot, the process of selecting a tree that will serve as the crown jewel of the entire season is a great way to make lasting memories. Selecting a tree is a yearly ritual and each person has his or her set of criteria for what makes the ideal Christmas tree. These tips can help families find the right tree.

Choose your species

Do some homework on the type of tree you want prior to buying the tree. Balsam fir and fraser fir are popular Christmas tree varieties, but there are many others, such as noble fir and Norway

spruce. Balsams are known for having the most fragrant smell, but frasers tend to keep their needles the longest. For those who prefer a douglas fir, keep in mind that they sometimes drop their needles prematurely due to foliar diseases like needle-cast fungus.

Space for ornaments

In addition to aroma and needle longevity, look for trees that have a desirable shape and allow for adequate space between branches, advises the home and garden resource The Spruce. Trees groomed to be lush and full will look beautiful unadorned, but once ornaments are added, full branches may cause those ornaments to hang low or even fall off. Trees with sparse branches allow for ornaments to hang straight.


Measure your space

Trees in the field or in a lot may look much smaller than they do when brought into the living room. Don’t make the mistake of selecting a tree that is too large for your home. The agricultural firm Ragan & Masey says to measure the room from floor to ceiling and subtract the height of the tree stand and tree topper. It’s equally important to measure the width of the area where the tree will stand and allow for ample space for foot traffic around the tree.

Perform a needle check Every tree will drop some needles, and most evergreens hold their foliage. Modest needle loss is not an indicator of a poor tree. However, Decker’s Nursery in Greenlawn, NY says if 50% of the needles are lost when you swipe your hand

Find your perfect tree WHO: Flint Hills Optimist Club Tree Lot WHERE: Guion’s parking lot WHEN: Mon - Fri 5:30 - 8:00 (Friday after Thanksgiving, 10 am - 8 pm) Saturday 10 am - 8 pm Sunday 1 - 6 pm down three to five different branches around the tree, the tree likely is not a good choice. In addition, avoid a tree that has glaring defects in the trunk as it can impede water flow through the tree.

Heavier is better

A heavy pre-cut tree means it is full of water and has been cut more recently. A healthy, fresh tree is going to require an effort to lift. Older, dried out trees will not be heavy.

Tips to keep your tree fresh this holiday season C hristmas trees are often the pièce de résistance of holiday decor. Few things draw the attention of holiday guests quite like an awe-inspiring Christmas tree, especially when that tree maintains its fresh, healthy sheen throughout December. Many families purchase fresh trees over Thanksgiving weekend or during the first weekend of December. Though the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day may seem like a long time to keep a tree looking great, there are a handful of ways for holiday celebrants to help their trees maintain that undeniable appeal for the long haul.

• Pick the right tree. Choosing the right tree is one of the simplest ways to keep a tree looking good throughout the holiday season. A freshly cut tree that buyers choose and cut down themselves or have cut down can reassure them that the tree is likely to stay strong throughout December. Trees purchased from a tree lot may have been cut down long before they made it to the lot, which can make it harder to keep them looking good until Christmas Day. • Cut an inch off the base of any tree that is not freshly cut. MSU Extension at Michigan State University notes that all Christmas trees are conifers, which means they have resin canals in their

trunks. Once a tree is cut, the resin can block the pores and make it harder for the tree to take in water. Cutting an inch off the base of a tree that was not freshly cut just before putting it in the stand can help ensure it gets the water it needs to stay healthy and firm. MSU Extension notes that this approach should be taken with any tree that was not cut within six to eight hours of being put in a stand. • Replenish the water supply every day. Fresh tree veterans recognize that Christmas trees can be very thirsty, especially within the first week or so of being cut and brought home. Fill the stand with water each morning and, if necessary, refill it each night before going to bed.

The more water a tree gets and drinks, the more likely it is that the tree will look healthy all the way to Christmas Day. MSU Extension notes that many decorative or antique tree stands do not hold much water, so anyone with such a stand may need to replenish the water supply more than once or twice per day. • Keep the tree away from a heat source. For safety’s sake, trees should be kept away from heating vents, fireplaces and space heaters. But keeping trees away from such heat sources, and ensuring they are not spending the daytime in direct sunlight, also decreases the chances they will dry out before Christmas Day.

Did you know? Lights on a Christmas tree may seem like a relatively recent phenomenon, but people who can’t wait to deck the halls each December may be surprised to learn that this beloved tradition dates all the way back to the late nineteenth century. Edward Johnson, a friend and colleague of Thomas Edison, introduced holiday light bulbs in 1882. Prior to that, candles were lit on trees and families would briefly gaze at this awe-inspiring bit of holiday decor before the candles were quickly extinguished. Johnson is credited with being the first to suggest light bulbs, which were invented by his friend Edison, be used to light trees in place of candles. While many were impressed by Johnson’s eightbulb holiday display, it remained a novelty until the 1920s, when preassembled lights became more accessible. Since then, Christmas tree lights have taken hold as a must-have piece of holiday decor in households across the globe. WINTER 2021 | 31

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