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2021 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
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JOY TO THE WORLD — THE HOLIDAYS ARE BACK Welcome, friends, to the Keys Weekly 2021 Holiday magazine. What a year it’s been since COVID canceled last year’s Christmas travel plans, parties and parades around the world. While the pandemic is not yet behind us, and the nation’s divisiveness continues at alarming levels, the winter holidays are looking much more “merry and bright.” While last year’s issue focused on comfort and joy during the challenging times, this year calls for true celebrations and family reunions, so we decided on a theme of Joy to the World, focusing on the holiday magic of years past, as well as what is still possible in today’s world. Mark Hedden takes us on a personal history of Key West’s unofficial lighted parades, while Erin Stover Sickmen explores options for those still feeling decidedly un-festive. We introduce readers to Fred the Tree on the Seven Mile Bridge and the elves who decorate “him” each December. Learn how to host a progressive holiday dinner party, and how to continue at-home workouts amid all the eggnog and cookies. Travel back in time to 1914, when a Christmas Truce halted World War I — albeit temporarily. Recall the nostalgia of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Visit other cultures’ festivals of lights and have a laugh at our take on how today’s era of wokeness has affected even Santa. (If you don’t find humor in this piece, please address your snarky email to the North Pole.) As usual, we’ve curated a captivating gift guide from local shops that have decked their halls for the season. The gift options are as diverse as the people who comprise the Florida Keys, and the shops that sell them are owned by our friends and neighbors. And for added merry measure, we’ve also included some of our favorite holiday foods and musical selections. As we begin to put the pandemic behind us, let’s come back together and remember what’s truly important, not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year. Joy to the World, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Florida Keys, from our families to yours.
— Mandy Miles, editor
HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
Holiday H olid liday ay Events E v ents ent Even ven CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24TH | SUN-SUN BEACH BAR & GRILL | 5:30PM−9:30PM
Join us for a spectacular Christmas Eve Dinner Plate Special crafted by our Executive Chef Adrian Colameco.
CHRISTMAS DAY BREAKFAST SATURDAY, DECEMBER 25TH | FLAGLER PATIO | 7:00AM−11:00AM Breakfast buffet & a la carte ordering available.
CHRISTMAS DAY BUFFET SATURDAY, DECEMBER 25TH | FLAGLER BALLROOM & PATIO | 12:00PM−8:00PM Join us for an abundance of holiday inspired items including soup, salad, seafood, carving tables and of course holiday inspired desserts. Live music. $95 per adult / $29 per child 12 and under.
TOES IN THE SAND CHRISTMAS DINNER SATURDAY, DECEMBER 25TH | SUN-SUN BEACHES | 4:00PM−9:30PM Join us for our signature Toes in the Sand dining experience. Chef’s 3-Course menu. $150++ per person. Enhancements available. Reservations required.
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OUR PICKS OF HOLIDAY HITS | P. 8 FRED THE TREE: FESTIVE ON THE BRIDGE | P. 10
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HOW TO HOLIDAY WHEN YOU’RE NOT FEELING MERRY | P. 18 A HISTORY OF KEY WEST’S LIGHTED PARADES | P. 22 CHARLIE BROWN & LINUS GOT IT RIGHT | P. 26 WORLDLY WINTER FESTIVALS | P. 28 ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR SNACKING | P. 30
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WHEN CHRISTMAS PAUSED WORLD WAR I | P. 36 READ-AND-SIP BOOK PAIRINGS | P. 38 GORGEOUS GIFTS | P. 42 PROTECT YOUR PETS THIS CHRISTMAS | P. 50 ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS | P. 52 OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES | P. 54
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HO-HO-HOLIDAY TU-TU-TUNES The newest feature in our magazines, that we hope you are enjoying as much as us, is the addition of the magazine playlist. It’s so easy, you just hold your smart phone camera up to the QR code on the page and follow the directions. Within seconds your’re enjoying our curated playlists! For our annual Holiday magazine we called on our staff up and down the Keys to contribute. The Keys Weekly family compiled a playlist of our favorite holiday tunes that really
HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
get us into the tree trimming, cooking and cocktail making mood. We hope that you and your family enjoy our selections as much as we enjoyed sharing them with each other. Needless to say after we pitched in our nominees, lit a Siberian Fir candle, poured a glass of eggnog we were right into the Christmas spirit . Happy Holidays to you all and we hope you enjoy listening to these songs, old and new.
Holiday Events at each The R
Letters to Santa December 1st–24th
Have you been good this year or naughty (but nice)? Drop your letter to Santa in the mailbox in the lobby and make sure it gets to the North Pole!
Sunday, December 19th | Four Marlins | 11:30am–3:00pm
Chef Eduardo Ruberte has created a special brunch menu with holiday inspired features for this special event. Live Music by Bria Ansara. Reservations recommended.
Christmas Eve Dinner
Friday, December 24th | Four Marlins | 5:30pm–9:30pm Join us for a spectacular Christmas Eve Dinner Plate Special crafted by our Executive Chef Eduardo Ruberte. Reservations recommended.
Saturday, December 25th | Four Marlins | 5:30pm – 9:30pm Join us for a spectacular Christmas Dinner Plate Special crafted by our Executive Chef Eduardo Ruberte. Reservations recommended.
Santa’s Vacation Brunch
Sunday, December 26th | Four Marlins | 11:30am–3:00pm Join us to wish Santa farewell as he begins his vacation. Live Music by Bria Ansara. Reservations recommended. Schedule subject to change.
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By Alex Rickert
MERRY FREDMAS SPENDING TIME WITH THE KEYS’ MOST FAMOUS TREE If you’re a Keys local, you know a trip across the Seven Mile Bridge isn’t complete without acknowledging and offering a greeting to Fred, the tree that sprouted defiantly and triumphantly from concrete on the old bridge (or perhaps you weren’t aware its name is Fred). Around the holidays, Fred is adorned with lights and holiday decor to the delight of passing motorists and boaters below. Keys Weekly was privileged recently to sit down with the most famous Australian pine tree in the USA.
10 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
Keys Weekly: Fred, how does a tree on a bridge in the middle of the ocean end up decorated with Christmas lights? Fred the Tree: Well, it all started about 12 years ago. Two mischievous and anonymous elves got together, bought some lights from The Home Depot and strung them all over me. It was a good effort, but they realized, once you got far enough away, you couldn’t see my lights from the road at all. By the following year, they had it all figured out. They talked to some folks who knew more about electricity and hooked up solar panels to charge battery banks that power much brighter lights. KW: And who are these elves? Friends of yours? FTT: At this point, yes, most definitely! There are usually about 15 people now who come each year on D-Day (Decoration Day) to deck me out for the holidays. The two original elves were fishermen in town who enlisted the help of their buddies with boats. And of course, as they needed more people to help with electrical things and brute strength, they brought a couple more friends along. But if you’re looking for names...I’m sorry, you won’t get them. That might be my biggest secret. KW: Not even the two who started it? FTT: Nope. A lot of people try to take credit for it, but the elves know who they are. One guy at a bar tried to impress people by saying he strung my lights. But he didn’t know he was sitting right next to some of the real elves. KW: But...you’re on a bridge in the middle of the ocean. How do they get up here? FTT: Santa’s magic. They fly up here — like the reindeer. KW: Seriously? FTT: Yup.
KW: We heard they come out at night, and that’s why people rarely see those elves. Is that true? FTT: Absolutely not. That would be way too dangerous. They come during the day, and it usually only takes them about four or five hours. They’ve got it down to a science now. There are a lot of logistics involved, and every elf has his or her own job. KW: So, when the elves are up there, do people see them? FTT: Yes, but not their faces. They get into all kinds of shenanigans when they’re up here, like cartwheeling contests. They usually end up slowing down traffic on the active Seven Mile Bridge because people want to stop and watch. KW: These days it seems like there are more than just lights that go up. Do you have any favorite decorations? FTT: A few years ago, a rabbi from Key West called the elves and asked if they could put up a big PVC menorah, so that was a great addition. We also have some angels that go up now, and the little tree next to me gets decorated, too. Most people call it Wilma, but my elves always call it Randi. My favorite addition has to be the “Keys Strong” sign. The elves put it up after Hurricane Irma, and that one means the world to me. Everyone was so worried about me after the storm, and they were surprised I made it through. Our whole town went through so much, and I was able to cheer up everyone driving over the bridge and remind them that we’ll get through it. This year they put the sign up again for the COVID pandemic. Who knows? At this point, it might just become a new staple. KW: Actually, that brings me to my next question. Everyone wants to know: How on earth do you live out here?
Fred’s elf crew unloads supplies from boats to the old Seven Mile Bridge. ANONYMOUS ELVES/Contributed
You’re on a concrete bridge, and your species is native to Australia. FTT: People say I might have sprouted from the droppings of a passing bird. There are a lot of urban legends out there, too. Everyone wants to say they’re responsible for Fred the Tree. I’ll keep the real story a secret...unless someone wants to make a movie about my origin story. People think I don’t have anything to grow in, but they don’t realize the pilings under me are full of sand. There’s plenty there for my roots to dig into. Otherwise, Irma would have wiped me clean off the map! KW: Anything else you want to share with our readers? FTT: Happy holidays, everyone! Make sure you come by and see me in December, and always, always, remember, we are all Keys Strong, and we’re strongest when we work together.
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By Annie Briening
ON THE MOVE GET CREATIVE WITH A PROGRESSIVE DINNER PARTY The holidays are hectic, but they still offer many of us time to connect with family and friends, especially here in the Florida Keys, where the winter weather is beautiful and our friends are family. What better way to connect than over food and cocktails — with short bike rides between each dinner course? A progressive dinner is simply a roving party with each course served at a different host’s home. Think potluck, but extended across three, maybe four, locations. (Bonus: a progressive dinner party brings your group together, while spreading the work and expense among all.) The progressive style switches up a basic dinner party and allows hosts to showcase their particular cooking skills as well as their holiday decor. Some planning and logistics are involved, so find your most organized friends to put together a plan. For a successful flow, the locations should be close enough to walk, bike or hop on a golf cart. (Note: Walking and biking allow for portable cocktails.) The first home opens the evening with hors d’oeuvres or an appetizer. The second house does the entrée, the third does a decadent dessert and after-dinner drink. If you have four homes, add a soup/salad course in the middle.
14 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
DRINKS Each host should plan to provide a beverage that pairs well with the course they’re serving. Make it easy with a pre-made cocktail like Rosemary Pear Sangria. Slice some oranges and in a small saucepan, bring ¼ cup sugar, 1 rosemary sprig, orange zest, and ¼ cup water to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes, strain and discard solids. Add the rosemary simple syrup to your pitcher along with a bottle of dry white wine, ½ cup elderflower liqueur, sliced pear, and rosemary sprigs. Stir and top with club soda before serving.
Pro tip: A clear pitcher shows off the fruit slices. Garnish each glass with a sprig of rosemary for a festive touch.
DESSERT Make the last stop memorable with something to end the night on a sweet note. Bake your favorite cake or ask a local bakery to curate a holiday cookie platter to please all palettes. Make it merry and pair with an easy dessert cocktail or mocktail. Something like this three-ingredient Peppermint Chocolate Martini is simple and satisfying. For one serving: Add 1 cup chocolate almond milk, 1 shot chocolate liqueur and a ½ shot peppermint liqueur. Shake it all up and garnish the rim with crushed candy canes.
Keep it simple with tasty finger foods served on a platter. You can’t go wrong with a crowd-pleasing bruschetta (thick slices of bread grilled or toasted, rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, often topped with tomatoes, balsamic and fresh basil). Feel free to mix things up with a non-traditional bruschetta combination like gorgonzola, fig and honey or add some goat cheese or pesto to the traditional tomato and basil recipe.
MAIN COURSE This course need not require the most planning. Dust off that Crock Pot or Instant Pot for that “set it and forget it” simplicity. I have a go-to Italian Herbed Chicken that cooks perfectly within 10 minutes in the pressure cooker and allows you to enjoy the appetizer stop while the Instant Pot does all the work. Pair your protein with a premade salad and voila, dinner is served! If you prefer a more elegant approach, try a Beef Wellington or a one-pan lasagna that can rest while you start the night at the previous homes.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM OUR FAMILIES TO YOURS! WARMLY, THE TEAM AT DR. GUZMAN’S OFFICE
Located at 2758 N. Roosevelt Blvd. (in the Overseas Market) • Key West, FL 33040 Phone 305.294.9914 • Fax 305.295.9691 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.docguzman.com
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By Erin Stover Sickmen
HOW TO ‘HOLIDAY’ WHEN YOU’RE JUST NOT IN THE MOOD When the last pumpkin has decomposed and the last Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich has been devoured, we’re officially in the thick of the holiday season. Those who are not emotionally prepared for the twinkly onslaught can grinch and grouse about the early arrival of holiday décor in their local box store, or the pervasiveness of Christmas songs on the radio for a few weeks. At some point though, the transition is inevitable. It’s Christmastime. So what’s to be done if you justšcan’t? First off, take a deep, pepperminty breath and just relax. Not all who walk this earth are natural holiday revelers. It doesn’t mean your hesitation can’t yield to a jolly good time with the proper motivation. Some seasons are more difficult than others. Sometimes, we simply need a gentle reminder to appreciate the elements of the season we actually enjoy, and to let go of the pieces that induce stress. So, before you decide to drown yourself in amped-up eggnog, consider a few healthier tactics.
18 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
JUST SAY YES We’ve all heard the old adage, “fake it ‘til you make it.” It’s an enduring platitude because it occasionally really works. You may not feel like loading your family onto the Conch Tour Train for the holiday lights tour or braving the crowds at the harbor to catch the Lighted Boat Parade. But you know what? Just go. Maybe your mildly annoying neighbor is hosting what’s sure to be a dud of a party. Tell him you’ll be there. Drunken office party showcasing truly questionable judgement from the typically quiet administrator? Sure, it could be entertaining. Your kid’s holiday play with hours of cringe-worthy singing and homemade costumes? Well, you have to go to that. Sorry. The point is, just show up and try to enjoy yourself. You’ll either end the night in a better mood, with some great bits of gossip, or at least a good buzz. TECHNOLOGY SAVES When humans fail us, technology is there to nurture us. Every streaming music service currently hosts a
splashy homepage featuring holiday classics. If you’re feeling deeply melancholy, put on a little Nat King Cole and some cozy slippers. If you can handle taking things up a level, skip to Mariah Carey and throw some slice-and-bake cookies in the oven. If you need a visual distraction, never fear, every channel on your smart TV has already anticipated this desire. Amazon, Netflix and all the rest are showcasing comforting bites of nostalgia, like the Charlie Brown Christmas special and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” For those requiring deeper dives into seasonal schmaltz, the Hallmark Channel offers entire days of predictable, monocultural, heteronormative, snowy Connecticut happily-ever-after holiday tales. Really, it’s OK, you need this. GIVE BACK Sure, it’s good advice any time of the year, but there’s something about the holidays that amplifies the impact of good deeds. Plus, this time of year makes those do-gooder opportunities easier to find. Most local non-
profits and churches need help helping families in their sphere. There is nothing more rewarding than snagging a wish list from an ‘angel tree’ and shopping for a family you will never meet. If you get more joy from seeing the expressions of your loved ones opening gifts, then by all means, scratch that itch. If you have the means, shop big and share the wealth. Surprise your niece with that new bike and you’ll both be happy. If you’re watching your funds, consider baking a kitchen full of cookies and sharing them with neighbors and coworkers. (As one of those coworkers who loves homemade baked goods, I can tell you it will be appreciated.) Whether the effort is big or small, helping others is also self-serving, because let’s be honest, it feels good to do good. IN THE WORDS OF ELSA Let it go. If all else fails, let yourself off the stocking hook. You’re not obligated to have a merry time for the entirety of December. The world around you may be all snow-globey and sweet, but the space you occupy could feel a little dimmer. And here’s the secret — that’s absolutely OK. As long as you’re keeping yourself in a healthy space, seeking conversation and communion if you need it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with checking out of the holidays. You could live boldly and just not celebrate. Maybe in your book, Dec. 25 is a great day to go fishing and order pizza. Give yourself a gift and know that it’s a day well spent.
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By Mark Hedden
KEY WEST HOLIDAY PARADES A PERSONAL HISTORY
The first Key West Christmas Truck Parade began with an insult. Someone pulled up at the bocce courts with a wreath hanging over their truck’s radiator, and someone else said, “That sucks. You call that Christmas Spirit? I can decorate my truck way better than that.” Further words were exchanged (as tends to happen at the bocce courts). One thing led to another, and soon there was a line of six or 12 trucks driving down Duval Street, some decorated with lit tiki torches, some throwing firecrackers at tourists, all spreading holiday cheer. This was in 1993, and I wasn’t there. The origin details came from Harry Harrison, a salesman who once sold Spam, among other things, and who was captain of the Ramada Rats bocce team, as well as something of a ringleader for various forms of mischief. (These facts were confirmed, though, by my wife, a reliable reporter type, who was driving her Mazda Miata as the chase car behind the whole thing.) I don’t remember a lot of details from the second year, except for helping a future circuit court judge decorate his Jeep Cherokee, then riding around town, yelling “Merry Christmas” at stupefied bystanders, and not being able to stop laughing.
22 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
The third year is the most vivid to me, probably because I had a camera and took some notes. There was Frank the Plumber, who sat in the bed of his truck atop a stack of wrapped Christmas presents, on an actual porcelain throne, with a plunger as a scepter and a sign that said “The Little Plumber Boy,” with a generator running somewhere underneath it all to power the excess of lights. There was Wilma Krabill, who was in her 70s, dressed as Santa, flanked by palm trees and plastic flamingos, in the back of Bonnie and Mitzi’s celeste green 1950s Chevy pickup. There was this guy named Craig, who everyone just called The Drunkest Man in America, loosely strapped to the hood of a shiny black GMC pickup truck with rope. Someone wrapped him in garland, then someone stuck a red nose on him, and he was thereafter referred to as The Drunkest Reindeer In America. And there were about a dozen other trucks, as well as our aged Volvo station wagon, which they were kind enough to let tag along. None of this was, of course, sanctioned by the city, or remotely legal. There was a “parade permit,” though it was taxidermied, caught on a fly, according to my notes, by a guy named Nick, apparently some kind of world record, borrowed from the walls of a dentist’s office and hanging by a pole over the hood of Harry’s Crown Victoria.
Caution wasn’t completely thrown to the wind, however, because Steve and Kathy, on their Harleys with antlers duct taped to their helmets, raced ahead to block traffic at the busier intersections, so the parade could roll through. I’m not sure how long we drove around town that year, maybe 45 minutes, everybody honking “Jingle Bells” in near-unison, but it was one of the more fun evenings of my life. A last bit of low-grade anarchy as the 1970s, drug-smuggling era slowly transitioned into the 2000s mass tourism/wealthy snowbird era. I just remember Wilma getting out of the back of Bonnie and Mitzi’s pickup, amused to no end, going on in her Kentucky accent about how somebody had mooned her. And I remember the after-party at the Compass Rose getting interrupted when the fire truck arrived, because the generator in the Little Plumber Boy’s truck had lit the wrapped packages on fire. No damage was really done, though. The fire crew put it out quickly, and promised that when they got back to the station they’d just tell everyone it was a false alarm. The Truck Parade might have happened again after that. Or that might have been the last one. I think it was hard to marshal that level of anarchy, even low-level anarchy, on a regular basis. Looking through the photos now I realize how many of these people have since passed away, Wilma Krabill and Harry Harrington among them. I do not think it is a coincidence that the truck parade faded out at about the same time the official Key West Holiday Parade began to gain traction. For those who don’t know, the existence of Key West’s annual Holiday Parade is rooted in bigotry and intolerance, but its story is also one of the world’s more beautiful correctives. Back in the day there was a Christmas parade organized by the Lower Keys Ministerial Association. In the mid-1990s, when the largely gay Metropolitan Community Church and the Key West Business Guild asked to participate, they were rejected. Reverend Gary Redwine of the Big Coppitt First Baptist Church on Big Coppitt Key, told the New York Times in 1995, “It’s not a personal thing at all... It’s not that we hate homosexuals or anything. We just don’t agree with homosexuality, and we can’t condone the homosexual lifestyle.” He added that having gay people participate in the parade would not be “in accordance with the image of biblical morality and family that we wish to project.”
This didn’t fly with locals or local politicians of any stripe, so in 1996 the city of Key West just decided to have its own parade, inviting everyone in the community to participate, and no one has heard much from the Lower Keys Ministerial Association since. I have a strong memory of Josephine Parker, the city clerk, riding on the back of a convertible in a giant pair of angel wings. The parade has become one of Key West’s most bedrock traditions. I can’t tell you how heartening it is every year to see the mixed bag of Key West’s everything participate – kids in the gymnastic club, churches, members of the local synagogue, drag queens, police, firefighters, the Aqueduct Authority, contractors, leather boys, animals from the jail zoo, the high school marching band, jugglers, pets up for adoption, the hockey club, seemingly everyone in South Florida who owns a Miataš It is hard not to bask in the glory of a small town doing something so right. I don’t think I’ve ever missed one if I’ve been in town. This is not to say that my wife and I have gone completely legit. For 15 or so years we’ve been hosting something called the Christmas Lights Bike Ride, in which a small group of friends gets together at our house. We drink the World’s Largest White Russian, then ride around town, looking at the lights, blasting Christmas carols, slapping hands with the folks on the Conch Train as we pass. It’s not so much a parade as a procession. It started out with eight or 10 of us doing this, but it has grown, most years, to 50 or 60 people, and we’re trying to hold it there, so it doesn’t become some unwieldy thing that collapses under its own weight. But there are always enough people who can’t make it every year that we have some room for a few new folks. In the earlier years of this, the end parties were a little more raucous, with occasional bouts of skinnydipping and people trying out K-9 shock collars on one another. But we’ve all matured. We’ve been coming across other groups doing this in recent years, and we try to slap hands with them as well. And there’s even an official Christmas Bike Ride organized by the city. The one thing our group tries to do is ride down Duval Street, yelling holiday greetings at tourists over a loudspeaker, but doing it in a way that they don’t expect and confuses them for a moment, so they maybe stand there for a second, staring at us, trying to figure out what’s going before giving us a wave and a smile. It’s not Harry Harrington-level mischief, but it’s still pretty good.
24 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
Celebrating Our BIG 82nd Season
with Delightful Productions in 2021 & 2022
A joyous trip down Memory Lane featuring a HIT PARADE of all your FAVORITES!
Every Brilliant Th iNg NOV. 21-29
The Christmas Truce of 1914
This Property Is Condemned
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MAR. 22 - APR. 16
A LIFE IN THE THEATRE
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By Mandy Miles
‘WHAT’S THE STORY WITH THAT TREE?’ (I’M GLAD YOU ASKED…)
“What’s the story with the Charlie Brown Christmas tree? Why is it a thing?” I spun at the question and looked with disbelief at the friend who had asked it. Once my ethnocentricity abated a bit, I realized our Dutch graphic artist, Irene, had never seen the 1965 animated holiday special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” She’d never seen the potential of a scrawny little fir tree or watched the Peanuts gang turn it into something special while finding “the true spirit of Christmas.” As I started to explain its origin, I noticed her computer, where a search for the term “Charlie Brown tree” had filled the screen with various versions of it — all of them, of course, for sale. No wonder Irene had to ask. It was a sad, but fitting irony. The cartoon tree, meant to symbolize the true and simpler spirit of Christmas in an increasingly commercialized world, was reduced to yet another product with a price tag, its history and origin concealed under every online seller. But I couldn’t dwell on my disappointment. I, like the Peanuts gang, had to look past the commercialism of Christmas and share its true spirit. (Charles Shulz’s version of it, at least.) If you recall, the Peanuts gang is seeking the true spirit of Christmas and lamenting its commercialism. Lucy has instructed Charlie Brown and Linus to select a dazzling tree that “fits the modern spirit of Christmas.” The cartoon Christmas tree lot (of the mid-’60s) is filled with pink, blue, artificial and metallic trees. But sitting forlorn among the showy spectacles is a tiny tree with nearly no needles and barely three branches. 26 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
“This little green one here seems to need a home,” Charlie Brown tells a dubious Linus. “We’ll decorate it and it’ll be just right... Besides, I think it needs me.” Charlie Brown totes the tree home and swipes a red Christmas ball from Snoopy’s garishly decorated doghouse. The tiny tree folds under its weight and Charlie Brown walks off, defeated. But the others soon happen upon the drooping little tree. “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love,” Linus declares, tucking his blanket around the base and propping it up. Recognizing its underdog potential, and helping themselves to the rest of Snoopy’s doghouse decor, the group transforms it. Sparkling with pride and, apparently, with the true spirit of Christmas, the triumphant little tree leaves us (well, most of us) with a sappy smile and a satisfied lump in our throat. Oh sure, we could pick apart the well-meaning Christmas cartoon with the knee-jerk criticism and snide cynicism of social media. We could, with woke superiority, point out the obvious anthropomorphism, imbuing a tree with feelings — a dead tree, by the way, that’s been ripped from its natural habitat. But must we? Can we pause the negativity and judgment for a half-hour, and savor the sweet nostalgia of a cartoon Christmas tree that just needed a little love? Can that be the story Irene hears about the “Charlie Brown Christmas tree?” It would be a Christmas miracle, but I have to believe it’s possible.
$12,000 in Donations
MADE SUPPORTING LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS IN THE COMMUNITY The Good Health Clinic
Wild Bird Sanctuary
Upper Keys Humane Society
Conch Scramble – Plantation Key School PTA
Key Largo Chamber Sponsorship for July 4th Marr-Velous Pet Rescue (Event Sponsor) Community Foundation of the Florida Keys
Sharon Kelly-Brown, 2021 President Jennifer Miller, President Elect Claire Johnson, Secretary/Treasurer
Louisiana Realtors Disaster Relief Fund Upper Keys Foundation – Girls volleyball team at Coral Shores Key Largo Elementary School PTA
Michael Kanik, Immediate Past President Diana Fiddes, Director Wendy Ives, Director
United Way of Collier and Florida Keys – Stuff the Bus Burton Memorial Food Bank Coral Isles Church Food Bank First Baptist Church of Islamorada Food Bank Island Community Church Food Bank
Kathe Kaile, Director Karen Williams-deCastro, Director Debra Bennett, Director
Christine Garcia-Castellanos, Director Mykael Marinelli, Director Lynda Anthony, CEO
& Happy New Year From the whole crew
By Jim McCarthy
p u g n i t h g i L e season th
SPECTACULAR CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
CELEBRATIONS AND FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD ARE LIGHTING UP THE NIGHTTIME SKIES THIS TIME OF YEAR. OIL LAMPS BRIGHTENED THE NIGHT IN INDIA TO SYMBOLIZE THE LIGHT THAT OFFERS PROTECTION FROM SPIRITUAL DARKNESS DURING THE FIVE-DAY DIWALI CELEBRATION. THIS FESTIVAL IS AS IMPORTANT TO HINDUS AS CHRISTMAS IS TO CHRISTIANS. MANY LIGHT FESTIVALS ACROSS THE WORLD HAVE ILLUMINATED OUR SURROUNDINGS FOR MANY YEARS. FOR MANY CULTURES, THEY SIGNIFY MORE THAN JUST DISPELLING DARKNESS. BEFORE THE DISCOVERY OF ELECTRICITY, LIGHTING LAMPS OR LANTERNS WAS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF CELEBRATIONS. IN FACT, SOME FESTIVALS ARE KNOWN AS FESTIVALS OF LIGHTS. HERE’S A LOOK AT SEVERAL NOTABLE CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD.
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FÊTE DES LUMIÈRES - FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS - FRANCE
LOI KRATHONG THAILAND & LAOS
This festival in France takes place on Dec. 8 every year to show gratitude toward Mary, mother of Jesus. Much like Diwali, every house places candles outside windows. Lasting four days, the Festival of Lights dates back to Dec. 8, 1852, when the residents of Lyon placed candles in colored glasses on their window sills to celebrate the installation of a statue of the Virgin Mary on the Fourvière Hill. Entire districts of the city were lit up, transforming the facades of buildings into a light show. To commemorate this event, on the days surrounding Dec. 8 every year, the people of Lyon celebrate the lighting of their city, showcasing its living heritage. Light, symbolising the renewed identity of the city, takes visitors on a journey through a poetic world, filled with magic and dreams.
Each November, Loi Krathong announces the end of the rains and the arrival of a bright atmosphere. As the festival approaches, streets are adorned with overhung illuminated lanterns. Boats, each decorated beautifully, are found on the water. Streets and alleys buzz with happy locals and travelers, everyone on the same page, ready to welcome the festival with open arms. Celebrated in Thailand, Laos and other countries, a powerful union of water and lights makes this festival a momentous time for every gazer. The Thais honor the Goddess of water and pay respect to the Buddha.
WINTER ILLUMINATIONS FESTIVAL JAPAN Winter illuminations around Christmas and the New Year have become a popular attraction in cities across Japan. Illuminations are typically displayed between November and December, but some run longer, starting as early as October and running until Valentine’s Day or even into spring. Among Japan’s first and most spectacular light shows is Kobe’s Luminarie, an Italian- designed light festival that was first held as a memorial to the victims of the disastrous Kobe earthquake in 1995.
HANUKKAH A festival celebrated by the Jewish community all over the world, is observed for a period of eight nights and days anywhere between the end of November and December. The weeklong Jewish holiday commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Also known as the Festival of Lights, the celebration involves lighting the nine-branched menorah (candelabrum). It is lit after sundown with the number of lights increasing by one each evening.
PINGXI LANTERN FESTIVAL TAIWAN The Lantern Festival was brought to Taiwan in the early 19th century. Every year at the beginning of the spring planting season, people would release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year. In olden times, marriage was for the purpose of “adding a son” and increasing manpower, and people went to the temple to pray for blessings and released sky lanterns on which they had written things like, “May a son soon be born,” and “May the harvests be bountiful.” Sky lanterns were released to follow the wind, rising up to the ancestors to report that all was well and to pray for blessings. Slowly this evolved to become a local event for the Yuanxiao Festival in the Pingxi area. The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival was voted by the Discovery Channel as the second biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world, a festival whose sky lanterns carry the prayers and vows of the people.
By Stephanie Mitchell
CLASSIC HOLIDAY SNACKS The holidays are here, let the house parties and celebrating commence. We all have a few favorite snacks that we look forward to each season. Below you’ll find a few of the simple, yet crowd-pleasing options we all hope to encounter on the snack table. Typically these are recipes reserved for get together’s, but hey we aren’t here to judge if you whip up a batch while you catch up on Netflix or Bravo.
BACON WRAPPED WATER CHESTNUTS Ingredients 1 cup ketchup 1 cup brown sugar 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 16 oz sliced bacon 2 (8oz cans) whole water chestnuts drained Tooth picks & parchment paper Instructions • Preheat oven to 350 • Cover baking pan with parchment paper • In saucepan combine ketchup, brown sugar & Worcestershire, heat to boiling. • Pour sauce over bacon & water chestnuts • Cut bacon into thirds and any large water chestnuts in half. • Wrap water chestnuts in bacon and secure with tooth picks, place on pan. • Bake in preheated oven until bacon is completely cooked (about 45 minutes)
30 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
Ingredients ½ cup sugar ½ cup brown sugar 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon 1 teaspoon of salt 1 large egg white 3 cups whole pecans (or your favorite nut variety) Instructions • Mix sugar and spices in small bowl • In a large bowl beat egg whites into stiff peaks • Add pecans and toss well • Add sugar & spice mixture and toss until well coated • Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet • 15 minutes top shelf then 15 minutes bottom/middle shelf
HOT TODDY Ingredients 4 to 6 oz of hot water 2 ounces Bombarda Rum 1 tablespoon honey 1 slice of lemon Simply mix together Add cinnamon & sugar to taste
GRANDMA’S HOLIDAY CHEESE BALL
HOT BUTTERED RUM Ingredients 2/3 cup of packed brown sugar 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temp ¼ cup of honey ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves pinch of salt 1 cup Bombarda rum 2 cups boiling water cinnamon sticks for garnish
Ingredients 16 oz (2 packages) cream cheese 2 tablespoons of butter 2 teaspoons chopped pimento 1 tablespoon minced green pepper 1 tablespoon minced onion 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon lemon juice 1 cup chopped walnuts Instructions • Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Mix together until well combined • Add remaining ingredients and gently fold in • Place bowl in fridge and let set up for about 30 minutes • Roll into a ball and then roll in chopped walnuts • Put into the fridge until ready to serve. Serve with crackers or fresh veggies
SPINACH DIP BREAD BOWL Ingredients 2 boxes (10oz) frozen chopped spinach 1 cup regular mayonnaise 1 envelope onion soup mix 1 (16oz) container of sour cream 2 cans (8oz) water chestnuts (chopped or diced) 3 green onions (finely chopped) 1 loaf of Sourdough bread
SLOW COOKER LITTLE SMOKIES Ingredients 2 (16 oz) packages of miniature smoked sausage links 1 (8oz) jar grape jelly 1 (12oz) bottle of bbq sauce Instructions • Combine grape jelly and bbq sauce in a slow cooker. • Stir in the mini sausage links • Cook on high until heated through (2-3 hours)
Instructions • Mix brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a medium bowl until blended and smooth • Transfer the mixture to a 4 cup of larger measuring cup • Add rum and then 2 cups of boiling water • Stir until butter mixture dissolves • Divide into mugs, garnish with cinnamon sticks and serve
Instructions • Soak both packages of frozen spinach in warm water to defrost • Drain spinach well, ring it like a wet towel to squeeze out excess juice • Place spinach in a large bowl and mix in sour cream, onion soup packet, mayo, green onions and water chestnuts. Add as much mayo and or additional sour cream to fit your taste and consistency. Mix well • Hollow out a large round loaf of sour dough, leaving at least a 2 inch wall in place • Move bread bowl onto a tray and pour in your dip • Add different kinds or bread, crackers or tortilla chips and place them around the bread bowl • Top off with parmesan and a dusting of pepper keysweekly.com
By Annie Briening and Maison Benitez Overseas Media Group
DIGITAL HOLIDAY PREP CHECKLIST BE SURE TO CHECK IT TWICE! Here’s our Digital Holiday Guide for Local Businesses to stay digitally connected with your customers. Great holiday marketing campaigns take time and planning. Here are some tips to enhance your digital presence during the craziest time of the year.
# Start your holiday marketing campaign early • Create a schedule to map out your events leading up to and during the holiday rush. Certain holidays may be more specific to your customer base, but it helps to have a plan and strategy from the start. - Black Friday - November 26 - Small Business Saturday - November 27 - Cyber Monday - November 29 - Giving Tuesday - November 30 • Give your customers call-to-actions that prompt shipping alerts and last-minute options.
# Encourage connection Encourage your followers to start a conversation on your platforms and ask questions to invite comments, leading to more interactions. Communicate with your audience by making your FAQs available, pinning top posts on your Facebook page, and keeping your profile’s linktree up to date.
# Use holiday hashtags Search for holiday hashtags with 1K following or larger. Be consistent and add to posts for that holiday flare - boosting traffic and engagement to your page.
32 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
# Produce festive posts & ads Show off your brand in a way that delights your customers, evokes emotion and promotes shares. Partnering with a local charitable organization that strives during the holidays can connect you with the community while doing something good for those in need.
# Offer a holiday giveaway Take advantage of your social media channels and build your base. Add a free gift with purchase, a hot ticket item or even just a discount. (We’ve all commented, shared, tagged 3 three friends, followed, etc for that free Instant Pot on Instagram.)
# Embrace email marketing Keep your customers connected with what’s going on with your business throughout the season — look to source engaging photos, promote special events and give important updates through email marketing. Pro Tip: Make your email subject line stand out to increase open rates!
# Retarget customers Now that it’s the end of the year (omg!), it’s a good time to review your marketing and retargeting campaigns for a refresh for the new year. If you do have holiday-specific ads running, you may want to extend some campaigns for all those late shoppers...we all know at least one, am I right?
Warmest Holiday Wishes A vacation here is far from ordinary; it is truly extraordinary. From the moment you open the door to your vacation rental, you will know you are in your own peaceful paradise.
SAVE DOUBLE THE LIVES EVERY DONATION WILL BE MATCHED UP TO $100,000 THROUGH DECEMBER 31ST
Rental Agent | 305.289.6503 email@example.com
fkspca.org/donate The $100,000 Match Campaign is generously given by the Favelli Charitable Foundation, in memory of Georgia Favelli. 5711 College Rd. Key West | 305.294.4857 10550 Aviation Blvd. Marathon | 305.743.4800
Artisan Market nline! HOLIDAY
Give the gift of health The gift that keeps on GIVING! GIFT ES IFICAT E T R E C L A V A ILAB
shop local & buy art! Support local artists & artisans this season while finding unique gifts for everyone on your list! Visit The Studios of Key West’s website (www.tskw.org) in December.
34 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
GO TO OUR WEBSITE FOR FULL CLASS SCHEDULE!
www.pilatesinparadise.net | firstname.lastname@example.org 305.453.0801 | Locations at Ocean Reef & Tavernier
a very merry
Winter Wonder List It’s been a trying couple of years in all parts of the country, so for this holiday season, we’ve compiled some simple ways to impart some joy and sparkle into this season.
Take a fa mily photo. (Friends are fa mily, too! Plus, we know you have a selfie stick somewhere from a Christmas past.)
Read your favorite holiday story at bedtime.
Donate to a food bank.
Sing Christmas carols.
Sponsor a local child’s or fa mily’s holiday.
Look at holiday light displays.
Make hot chocolate in your PJs. Do a random act of kindness (without seeking credit).
Paint coconuts like ornaments and mail them to your fa mily and friends (no packaging necessary just take them to the post office with the address painted somewhere on the coconut)
Enjoy a pretend snow day. Host a slu mber party.
Take a harbor walk and check out the lighted boats.
Build a fort.
Deliver a handmade gift to a neighbor.
Have a movie night.
A German officer photographs a group of friends and enemies in ‘No Man’s Land’ between the wartime trenches of World War I during the Christmas Truce of 1914 (Illustration from London News).
By Mandy Miles
WHEN CHRISTMAS PAUSED WORLD WAR I... A remarkable thing happened in the early months of World War I — the Christmas Truce of 1914, when the holiday spirit halted the war for a day-and-a-half in some sections of the Western Front between France and Belgium. British and German soldiers were dug in beneath the frozen ground, fighting from long lines of cold, dank and muddy trenches, often separated from the enemy by only a few hundred yards, with barbed wire dividing the area known as No Man’s Land. The story of the unofficial — and sporadic — truce has been told, retold, celebrated, criticized and later downplayed by the Germany military for more than a century. But the soldiers who were there, whose diaries, photographs and re-
36 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
corded oral interviews describe the unprecedented holiday celebration, say they will never forget Christmas Day 1914. “We shared fags (cigarettes) and goodies with the Germans,” recalled Ernie Williams, a member of England’s 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, in an interview with the Imperial War Museums in Great Britain. From out of nowhere a soccer ball appeared and more than 100 soldiers from each side enjoyed a “kick around,” Williams said. “I had a go at it myself. I was rather good back then, at 19.” The story remains one of the strangest and most sentimental of all holiday tales, but such a truce has never been repeated, not even the following year in 1915, when the
war had crippled both sides for 18 months and would continue for three more years. British machine gunner Bruce Bairnsfather, later a prominent cartoonist, wrote about the Christmas Truce of 1914 in his memoirs. Like most of his fellow infantrymen of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was spending the holiday eve shivering in the muck, trying to keep warm. Then, in a part of Belgium called Bois de Ploegsteert, he was crouched in a trench 3 feet deep by 3 feet wide, his days and nights marked by an endless cycle of sleeplessness and fear, stale biscuits and cigarettes too wet to light, reports History.com. “‘Here I was, in this horrible clay cavity,’ Bairnsfather wrote, ‘šmiles
and miles from home. Cold, wet through and covered with mud. There didn’t seem the slightest chance of leaving — except in an ambulance.” Then the singing started. Around 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Bairnsfather asked a fellow soldier in his trench, “Do you hear the Boches [Germans] kicking up that racket over there?” The Germans were singing carols. An enemy soldier, speaking in English with a strong German accent, called out, “Come over here.” One of the British sergeants answered, “You come halfway. I come halfway.” “Enemy soldiers began to climb nervously out of their trenches, to meet in No Man’s Land that separated the armies. After months of communicating only with streaking bullets, with occasional gentlemanly allowances to collect the dead, there were now handshakes and words of kindness. The soldiers traded songs, tobacco and wine, joining in a spontaneous holiday party in the cold night. “Here they were — the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side,” Bairnsfather wrote. The truce took place along various pockets of the Western front, although it was not formally approved by the officers in charge, who later hung signs ordering soldiers to remain in the trenches during daylight. When the war had begun a few months prior, soldiers on both sides presumed they would make short
The Christmas Truce of 1914 occurred along sections of the Western Front of World War I between Belgium and France. The truce was not authorized by either military’s command officers and did not occur at all battlefield locations. www.greaterwar.co.uk
work of the enemy and be home in time for the holidays. “Not only would the war drag on for four more years, but it would prove to be the bloodiest conflict ever up to that time,” History.com reports. “The Industrial Revolution had made it possible to mass-produce new and devastating tools for killing — among them fleets of airplanes and guns that could fire hundreds of rounds per minute. And bad news on both sides had left soldiers with plummeting morale. There was the devastating Russian defeat at Tannenberg in August 1914 and the German losses in the Battle of the Marne a week later. “By the time winter approached in 1914, and the chill set in, the Western Front stretched hundreds of miles. Countless soldiers were living in misery in the trenches on the fronts, while tens of thousands had already died.” But then Christmas came. In a letter to his wife, a British rifleman named J. Reading described his holiday experience: “My company happened to be in the firing line on Christmas Eve, and it was my turnš to go into a ruined house and remain there until 6:30 on Christmas morning. During the early part of the morning the Germans started sing-
ing and shouting, all in good English. They shouted out: ‘Are you the Rifle Brigade; have you a spare bottle? Iif so we will come halfway and you come the other half.’ “Later on in the day they came towards us,’ Reading wrote. “And our chaps went out to meet themšIshook hands with some of them, and they gave us cigarettes and cigars. We did not fire that day, and everything was so quiet it seemed like a dream.” Another British soldier, named John Ferguson, recalled it this way: “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!”
Soldiers of the 5th London Rifle Brigade share Christmas wishes with German Saxon regimental troops at Ploegsteert Wood in Belgium during the Christmas Truce of World War I, December 1914.
By Karen Newfield
y a d i l o H e c n a m ro
THIRSTY FOR SOME TRY THESE READ-AND-SIP PAIRINGS
A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI
By Sonya Lalli Niki Randhawa is a data analyst in her late 20s living in Seattle with her mother and father. While her rambunctious older sister ran wild, Niki was the good Indian daughter. After unexpectedly losing her job, Niki decides to finally stop being a wallflower watching life from the sidelines. She books a ticket to attend her best friend Diya’s wedding in Mumbai. The week-long extravaganza and chance to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, is just the adventure she seeks. Most importantly, she will absolutely, positively NOT have a fling with Sam, the heartthrob musician who can’t stop staring at her and is one of Diya’s oldest friends. While their chemistry is undeniable, Niki is terrified of falling in love and having her heart stomped on once again. Swirling through the mesmerizing sights, delectable foods and traditions of this vibrant country, Niki cannot forgo this opportunity to reimagine her entire future. Sip some Sweet Mango Lassi while imagining Mumbai in this adorable holiday tale.
THE MATZAH BALL
By Jean Meltzer Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt has a secret life. Having grown up on Long Island as the Rabbi’s daughter, she held enormous responsibility as a role model for the other children. A chronic illness diagnosis in college changed Rachel’s life forever. For the past decade she has given up on finding love even though she has become an expert through her very own words. Rachel is an award-winning, closet Christmas romance novelist. She writes under a pseudonym and no one except her very best friend knows the truth. Her home office is filled with Christmas decorations and memorabilia that would make her family plotz. Even though her shelves are filled with dozens of bestsellers, the publishers have demanded their very first Hanukkah romance. Although she adores her heritage, Rachel does not view Hanukkah in a romantic light, eight candles or not. That is until handsome Jacob Greenberg, her camp nemesis and first kiss, waltzes back into town to throw the Matzah Ball event of the season. Break out the Manischewitz with this laugh-out-loud Hanukkah rom-com.
THE HOLIDAY SWAP ROYAL HOLIDAY By Jasmine Guillory Vivian Forest has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accompany her fashion consultant daughter on a business trip during the Christmas holidays. As she rarely ventures out of her box, this single social worker cannot imagine celebrating the holidays anywhere but with her tight-knit family in California. With great effort to be spontaneous, Vivian surrenders to Maddie’s wishes and they are soon off to an adventure to England. When the lovely ladies arrive at a magnificent castle only imagined in fairy tales, Maddie is immediately whisked away to dress the duchess while Vivian is offered a private tour of the grounds by Malcolm Hudson, the private secretary of the Queen. As innocent flirtation with this handsome, intelligent man turns into something more, Vivian is shocked to find herself completely captivated by this stranger and dreading her departure. With courage and faith, shy Vivian learns that middle-aged romance might just be better the second time around. A cuppa tea for the lady with some mistletoe on the side
By Maggie Knox Charlie Goodwin has an unexpected accident on the set of her reality baking show in Los Angeles. Busy battling her handsome adversary for next season’s coveted spot, this is not the ideal time for a chef to lose both smell and taste. Identical sister Cass lives a few hours away in their hometown, where she runs the family bakery. With Charlie in the spotlight it’s been easy for Cass to ignore her dreams and fill the role of devoted daughter. The critical ending of the baking competition draws near and the girls conspire to switch places, a la The Parent Trap. Taking over each other’s lives proves more complicated than expected. They can handle the baking logistics, but neither anticipated falling in love. The sweet physician’s assistant Miguel, who follows up with Charlie’s injury falls head over heels for Cass — and Charlie kindles her own flames with hot local firefighter Jake Greenman. Is it a recipe for disaster or happily-ever-after as the twins carry out their scheme? Whip up some Pumpkin Spiced Latte while devouring this delicious drama
MISTLETOE IN PARADISE By Jill Shavis As kids, Hannah, James and Jason were the best of friends. Their holiday sailing adventures with both families was the highlight of their year. Daring each other to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of, Hannah would literally jump off a cliff (and did!) for the brothers she adored. But time has passed and they’re no longer children. Hannah’s mother, on the brink of divorce, has sent her to deliver the distressing news to her dad, and James is determined to not get his heart trampled again by the only girl he ever loved. No one ever imagined that Jason wouldn’t be there to join them. The weather is perfect and the sunset as beautiful as ever. As this bittersweet Christmas voyage navigates the Caribbean, Hannah and James search for a way to forget the past and steer a course to love again. Don’t miss the boat with this perfectly sweet novella. Add lots of rum to your eggnog when you set sail with these two lovebirds. keysweekly.com 39
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44 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
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PROTECT YOUR PETS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
While the holidays are full of joy for most, they can present uncommon and unexpected hazards for our furry family members. Keys Weekly caught up with Dr. Mike Dunn of Keys Animal Hospital to talk about threats to pets that owners should keep in mind. DON’T KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS. “Make a rule: No ‘people food’ at all,” said Dr. Dunn, explaining that fatty and salty holiday foods are apt to cause pancreatitis in dogs. Chocolates are a known culprit, but artificial sweeteners in cookies can also trick dogs’ bodies into making too much insulin, dropping their blood sugar to dangerous levels and leading to collapse or seizures. For older animals experiencing their last holiday seasons, Dunn said this point is particularly critical to avoid tragically common Christmas Day euthanasias.
50 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
READ THE ROOM. During the holidays, pets are around large crowds who aren’t familiar with their diets. Small “people food” treats given by well-meaning friends and relatives can quickly lead to an overload. “Put your pet in their own room during parties,” suggested Dunn. TRASH THE TINSEL. “With cats, it’s the small Christmas toys, glass ornaments, and especially long, stringy tinsel,” said Dunn. “It can ball up and cut the gut as it moves through the cat’s intestinal tract. I have to take at least one foreign body out of a cat every Christmas season. There are lots of things hanging around the house and off the tree, so cats’ hunting drive kicks in.”
HIDE THE WEED AND BOOZE. Intentional or not, Dunn said he sees quite a few marijuana and alcohol ingestions every holiday season. “Dogs love to eat weed for some reason,” he said. “Guests leave it out — or maybe that’s just a traditional Christmas gift in the Keys.” PROTECT THEM FROM THE PLANTS. Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are all plants to watch out for as potential ingestion hazards that can be quite poisonous to pets.
Looking to bring your furry family member along to enjoy the holidays? Check out some of these petfriendly events from Marathon to Key West. Pet Photos with Santa & Doggy Beach Party: Sunday, Dec. 5, 2-4 p.m., Courtyard by Marriott, 2146 Overseas Hwy., Marathon. Donations benefiting Florida Keys SPCA. Parade of Paws & Holiday Bazaar: Saturday, Dec. 11, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Higgs Dog Park, Higgs Beach, Key West. Join us for this family friendly event with a holiday bazaar, pet parade, live music, Smooch-A-Pooch booth, photos with Santa and more! Holiday Yappy Hour: Friday, Dec. 17, 5-8 p.m., The Gates Hotel, 3820 N Roosevelt Blvd., Key West.
ANIMAL ADOPTION SITES • Florida Keys SPCA - Marathon and Key West campuses, hours and addresses at www.fkspca.org • Marrvelous Pet Rescues - 99900 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. 305-453-1315. • Upper Keys Humane Society - 101617 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. 305-451-3848. • Humane Animal Care Coalition - 105951 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo. 305-451-0088.
Looking to add a new member to the family? The holidays may be the perfect time while kids are home from school. “We encourage a home for the holidays,” said Tiffany Dunsmore, development director for the Florida Keys SPCA. “The good thing is that people are home more and have time to spend helping their new pet get acclimated.” Dunsmore added that while many want to give animals as gifts, she highly encourages the whole family to meet a new animal before making a commitment. Smaller animals like hamsters and guinea pigs can also be great “starter pets,” and there are plenty available for adoption at the SPCA’s shelters in Key West and Marathon.
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Before you check the date on the front of this magazine, yes, we ran this traditional tale from all of our Christmases past in last year’s magazine as well. We know that. It’s not a mistake. Reading this story aloud on Christmas Eve has been a tradition in our families for more than 40 years. Now it’s a tradition for our magazine. “Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.”
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads, And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s napWhen out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below; When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a minature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
52 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen, “On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem; “To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! “Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!” As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of Toys - and St. Nicholas too: And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound: He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys was flung on his back, And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack: His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry, His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry; His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face, and a little round belly That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly: He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle: But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
By Charlotte Twine
KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS XMAS EDITION Ah, kids. Without their cherubic faces that light up at the thought of Santa coming to their house and leaving a pile of presents under the tree, the holidays would lose a lot of their joy and luster. And, let’s face it, the honesty from the mouths of babes can be at times heartwarming, at times stunningly wise, at times embarrassing, and many times, side-splittingly funny. Kids are a trip. Keys Weekly was a fly on the wall when a group of children, supervised by their moms, got together to decorate a Christmas tree and eat treats. Perhaps stoked by a sugar high, they dove into the ornaments and decorated the tree in a minute flat. Meanwhile, we asked each child questions about the holidays. Here’s what they had to say. One answer that stood out: While most kids said their favorite reindeer was a certain famous one with a red nose, there were one or two surprise underdog reindeer that were named as favorites. Questions: 1. What are you giving to your parents as a present for Christmas? 2. What is your favorite holiday treat? 3. How do you think Santa delivers all the presents to all the children around the world in one night? 4. Who is your favorite reindeer? 5. What is your favorite part of Christmas?
54 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
Name: Celeste Other known aliases: Sweetheart Age: 3 Mad skills: “Draw. Yeah, draw. (Turning in circles) Draw, draw, draw.” Answers: 1. A present to Mom, Daddy and myself, Chloe, plus Miranda, Martin and everyone. And even Spirit (a character in the movie about a horse called “Spirit Untamed.”) 2. Candyyyyyyyyy! I love candy. Chocolates. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. 3. He goes in a sleigh and he drives the sleigh and the sleigh itself drives because it’s magical. 4. Sprinkles, ha ha! Sprinkle ice cream. 5. Presents.
Name: Chloe Other known aliases: Chlo Chlo Age: 5 (and a half!) Mad skills: Arts and crafts. Answers: 1. I’m going to make a special card for everybody that I know. 2. Fruitcake. My dad likes fruitcake, too. 3. He doesn’t get any sleep. 4. Prancer. 5. Getting presents. That’s my favorite.
Name: Nathanael Other known aliases: Nate Age: 7 Mad skills: Basketball Answers: 1. (Long pause.) I still don’t know. But I’ll think about it. 2. Candy! 3. On a sled with magic reindeer. 4. Rudolph. 5. Getting presents.
Name: Miranda Other known aliases: Nana. Age: “5, but almost gonna be 6.” Mad skills: “I play spider tag game with my daddy.” Answers: 1. Haven’t thought about that yet. No ideas. 2. Cookies. Whatever cookies. 3. He has magic. 4. Rudolph 5. When you decorate the tree and when you open the presents.
Name: Timmy Other known aliases: TT Age: 6 Mad skills: Playing with Ghostbusters toys Answers: 1. A toy. I’m still working on it. 2. Gumbo. 3. Because he has a very big sled. 4. Rudolph 5. Opening presents.
Name: Martin Other known aliases: Marchu or Baba Age: 4 Mad skills: Playing in the living room with plastic animals. Answers: 1. Ad advent calendar because my mom makes an advent calendar for me. 2. Cake. Vanilla. 3. I think he has a bed in his sleigh. He sleeps. And then he keeps delivering presents. 4. Rudolph 5. When Santa gives me presents. And when I’m unwrapping presents. And when I’m playing with the presents.
By Britt Myers
Twas the Night before a Woke
Christmas In today’s time of heightened sensitivities and unprecedented wokeness, the staff at the Keys Weekly uncovered how the woke elite is regarding the magic of the winter holidays (notice we didn’t say “Christmas” so as not to exclude other cultures and religions). While this “naughty” list of misdeeds and disappointments is growing as quickly as the national discontent, we bring you...
SIGNS THAT SANTA IS NOT IMMUNE TO THE LOFTY JUDGMENTS OF TODAY’S WOKENESS Santa is currently facing penalties, fines and back wages exceeding $3 billion after an extensive, joint investigation by the Department of Labor and Department of Justice revealed five years of unpaid sick leave and overtime due to “underpaid helpers.” A retired “non-contracted, at-will, skilled laborer” who now resides in Las Vegas (referred to in court filings as Humphrey E. Candybottom) filed a class action suit in the Clark County Federal Court on behalf of 700 “people of diminutive stature, but of strong work ethic” and nine reindeer. The most recent ruling, which Santa’s attorneys have appealed, states, “all of Santa’s helpers must be classified as employees, entitled to the same rights and benefits under the state of Nevada employment statutes.”
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Santa’s approval ratings are at an all-time low, after Mr. Claus lost a defamation suit against PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in late July. PETA launched a series of smear campaigns against Santa, claiming that Father Christmas has “exploited and glorified the mistreatment of reindeer for centuries, while holding innocent and magical creatures against their will in illegal captivity.” In early September, leaked videos purchased by TMZ appeared to show Santa using Dancer and Prancer for personal errands, including frequent trips to Denny’s, unscheduled late-night trips to a gentlemen’s club and dry-cleaning pickups. Santa has maintained his visits to gentlemen’s clubs are for “naughty list research” only. (Santa is facing similar outrage in Germany and Italy over his alleged mistreatment of an unnamed donkey).
In another PR setback, the National Organization for Women has called for Santa to discontinue his popular catch phrase, “Ho Ho Ho!” deeming it “misogynistic and chauvinistic, with demoralizing and derogatory implications to all women worldwide.” Santa vehemently denied the allegations during a recent podcast with Joe Rogan, claiming he is the target of “mis-targeted misandry and radical wokeness.” Several hunger and healthy food organizations have slammed Santa’s nutrition record. In 2021, both City Harvest and Feeding America scored Santa a 0.003 rating (on a scale of 10) for his “dangerous and reckless nutrition practice that promotes unhealthy sugars and corn starches to millions of children around the world.” The groups claim Santa is likely responsible for over 40% of child obesity in the United States alone. Both groups have asked that Santa consider “farm-to-table” options for stockings, while asking children to leave organic snacks and milk substitutes (such as soy and oak) out on Christmas Eve. The Clean Air Task Force last visited the North Pole toy factory in 2015 which resulted in rated Santa No. 4 on the world’s list of most devastating climate and environmental polluters, “causing detrimental and irreversible impacts on the northern ice cap.” Many believe Santa has operated wrapping paper mills and toy-making factories outside EPA guidelines. Only three other violators ranked higher than Santa in 2015, including Russia, China and Amazon. Santa was fined $30 million with ongoing sanctions by the Obama administration. Yet in 2016, Donald Trump removed all sanctions from Santa’s North Pole facilities.
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Another revelation that sent shockwaves around the world came from Ms. Claus’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, when she claimed her husband was unvaccinated and unmasked during all Christmas deliveries on Dec. 24, 2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci immediately responded by saying, “Santa Claus could very well have served as a global super-spreader during the 2021 COVID resurgence, carelessly exposing over 65 million households to the virus.” Santa has yet to respond to the allegations, however, during his podcast with Joe Rogan, the world’s oldest elf did tout his support for the drug Ivermectin. Santa’s attorney’s have also pointed out that no studies have proven the speed of COVID’s spread can occur during a relative state in which infinite mass and energy is gained — otherwise known as Santa’s magic ability to stop time. keysweekly.com 57
By Maison Benitez
AT-HOME HOLIDAY WORKOUT 3
It’s that time of the year, when holiday treats are everywhere and the motivation to exercise disappears. Spending time with family and indulging in decadent meals and snacks is a given. Routines are out of whack and you’ve dreamed of this time off to relax. Exercising could seem like a chore when you are on holiday, but I want to help shift that perspective and create a new mindset for it. Whether you work out for 10 minutes or 60 minutes, you are working on yourself, ultimately getting stronger every day. Think about how you feel after completing a workout. You’ll never regret that movement and the mental break it offers from planning the perfect holiday festivities or ensuring all relatives are getting along. Whether you get your workout in when you first wake up or while the baked goods are in the oven, enjoy the time you are taking for yourself.
58 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
Here’s a home workout to keep you on track no matter where you are in the world. These exercises allow you to go at your own pace. Do a few rounds or set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes and do an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). These are all bodyweight moves to keep it simple, but if you feel like leveling up the exercises, feel free to add weight. Mind/muscle connection is important with every move, it helps you focus on form and feel the muscles you’re working. Think about engaging your core, this will help with balance and getting the most out of the workout. Enjoy the holidays and exercising on the go! 1. SQUATS: 10 reps 2. PUSH UPS: 6-8 reps (modification: drop your knees & bring your chest to the floor) 3. REVERSE LUNGES: 8-10 reps per leg 4. BICYCLE CRUNCHES: 12 alternating reps 5. JUMPING JACKS: 12 reps 6. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS: 12 alternating reps
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WHERE & WHEN TO HOLIDAY 60 HOLIDAYS IN THE KEYS
KEY WEST MONDAY, NOV. 29 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Bayview Park | 6 p.m.-8 p.m. TUESDAY, NOV. 30 Lighting of the Menorah Bayview Park | 5:30 p.m. SATURDAY, DEC. 4TH City of Key West Annual Holiday Parade Kicks off at Bayview Park | 7 p.m. SATURDAY, DEC. 11 Lighted Boat Parade Key West Bight Marina | 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Welcome Christmas. Bring your cheer, Cheer to all Whos, far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp
MIDDLE KEYS TUESDAY, NOV. 30 - SATURDAY, DEC. 4 Zonta Festival of Trees Marathon Community Theatre 11/30-12/2: 3:30-8 p.m., 12/3: 3:30-9 p.m., 12/4: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (cookies with Santa 10 a.m.-12 p.m.)
So long as we have hands to grasp. Christmas Day will always be Just as long as we have we.
Welcome Christmas while we stand Heart to heart and hand in hand.
— Dr. Suess, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
SUNDAY, DEC. 5 Annual Lighthouse Lighting Faro Blanco Marina | 3-6 p.m. SATURDAY, DEC. 11 Boot Key Harbor Lighted Boat Parade | 6 p.m. SUNDAY, DEC. 12 Key Colony Beach Christmas Boat Parade | Kicks off at dusk
UPPER KEYS FRIDAY DEC. 3 Holiday Fest, Founders Park Islamorada | 4 p.m.-10 p.m. SATURDAY, DEC. 4 Light Up Key Largo, Murray Nelson Government Center, Key Largo | 4 p.m.-9 p.m. SATURDAY, DEC. 11 Key Largo Boat Parade Blackwater Sound, Key Largo | 7:30 p.m. We’ve highlighted a few of the top events in the Florida Keys. Please visit keysweekly.com for weekly updates to the holiday event calendar.
KEYS WEEKLY CARES... THE HOLIDAYS CAN BE AN OVERWHELMING TIME FOR US ALL. YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND HELP IS AVAILABLE. KEYS WEEKLY HAS COMPILED A LIST OF COMMUNITY RESOURCES TO HELP PEOPLE IN NEED OF FOOD, FINANCIAL HELP, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTION OR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT.
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SOS MISSION FOOD PANTRY 5640 Maloney Ave, Stock Island. For additional locations and distribution schedules visit sosfoundation.org or call 305.292.3013.
WESLEY HOUSE HOLIDAY HELPERS Wesley House Family Services helps Keys families provide a magical Christmas for the kids. Contact Wesley House for more information at 305809-5000 or visit wesleyhouse.org.
GUIDANCE/CARE CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH • 24-hour suicide and mental health hotline: 305-434-7660, option #8. • Guidance/Care Center provides mental health and/or substance abuse help regardless of ability to pay. • Free services for youth and teens are available; no one is turned away for inability to pay. • Psychiatrists and case managers speak English and Spanish (translation available for Creole, Russian, Czech, Polish). Contact: 305-434-7660 option #4.
KIDS COME FIRST Kids Come First provides clothing, school supplies and special items that kids’ families can’t afford. There are “closets” established at most schools and additional assistance available. Contact: Roxane Posada at 305-3601689 or Facebook at KidsComeFirstMonroeCounty.
SAMUEL’S HOUSE Samuel’s House helps women, men and families in need of safe shelter due to domestic violence, substance abuse or incarceration. Samuel’s House offices are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 365 days a year at 1614 Truesdell Court, Unit 3, Key West. Visit samuelshouse.org for more information. Call 305-296-0240 or toll free 855-772-7800. After-hours emergencies: 305-296-0240.
FL KEYS HEALTHY START COALITION Can provide diapers, formula, car seats, bike helmets and transportation to prenatal appointments for new and soon-to-be parents in need. Apply online at keyshealthystart.org or call 305.293.8424 for more information.
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