The Laker-Wesley Chapel/New Tampa-Dec. 24, 2014

Page 13

‘I can’t take you anywhere’ A royal

Christmas fit for a princess

By Michael Hinman News Editor


hen I was in high school, I had the opportunity to work at a radio station not far from my Pennsylvania home, where I anchored the weekend news. That was a big job for someone so young, something I didn’t appreciate until I was older. But it sure got me a lot of attention — especially from my church, a small rural Methodist congregation that would get me up at the pulpit regularly to read Bible passages. My hometown was primarily Roman Catholic, so one of the big events of the year, obviously, was Christmas Eve Mass. At the same time, I thought there was something special about conducting a service entirely by candlelight, like my church did for the holiday season. I really wanted to share the candlelight service with one of my good Catholic friends.And she was all for it — as long as I, in turn, accompanied her to Mass. I think my friend was surprised by the simplicity of the service at my church, and enjoyed what was a very intimate, yet moving celebration of Christmas. Later on, we took our seats in the large sanctuary that was Holy Rosary Church in the heart of downtown. It was packed with people, as if Bruce Springsteen himself was going to come out and deliver a homily. Once the priest arrived at the altar, he started talking. I’m sure what he was saying was profound, but what really got my attention is that behind me from a balcony on the second story, a small choir started a low, dramatic hum. The priest continued to talk, and he held out his hands, first at waist level, and then on a slow rise up. As his hands ascended higher and higher, so did the crescendo of the choir behind us. Suddenly, the priest’s hands shot straight up into the air, and the choir was in full majestic sound.At the same time, all the holiday lighting came to life around the beautifully adorned sanctuary, and it was as if a small slice of heaven had enveloped the room. I was shocked and I was awed. I was overwhelmed by the sound, the light, the energy.

By Carolyn Bennett Customer Service


Christmas time in the Hinman household back in 1979 included … power tools?

Before I knew it, I was up on my feet, clapping and cheering — completely in the moment, even as the choir finished its long note. It might have been only a few seconds, but to me it felt like an eternity. I stopped clapping, and looked around. It was only then I realized I was the only one applauding, the only one standing. All eyes were upon me. I quietly sat back down, and the service

resumed. I was so afraid that my friend would be irritated by my behavior. But as the priest starting speaking again, she leaned over and said, with a mock, angry look,“I can’t take you anywhere.” — Michael Hinman is the news editor of The Laker/Lutz News, joining the staff in 2013. Besides focusing his coverage on local government and development, he’s also responsible for planning every issue of the paper.

A shy boy’s singing debut made Christmas memorable By Kathy Welton Administrative


Michael always was pretty shy … until you asked him to sing a song.

hen my son was a little older than 3, the blond-headed, blue-eyed tyke was extremely shy.Whenever someone he didn’t know well would drop over, Michael would try to hide behind me. That is until one Christmas when we had a house full of visitors. My brothers were there, and my grandfather and step-grandmother were too. So were my uncle and his pregnant wife, my parents, my husband and our three kids. I had mentioned to my brother, Tom, Michael’s tendency to shy away from people. So during our gathering, Tom asked

An act of kindness rekindles my Christmas spirit By B.C. Manion Community Editor


have always looked forward to Christmas. Except for one year. My sister Anne Marie was very ill, and I just couldn’t feel the joy of the season. So, instead of going to get a freshly cut tree from a lot and decorating it with my friends, Bob and Heather, I decided not to put up a tree. When I told Heather that I was skipping our annual tradition, she invited me to come to their place and help them to decorate their tree. As I put ornaments on their tree’s branches, I knew the decorations evoked memories of happy events, important places, and special moments for my friends. And, I thought to myself: I have a fine collection of ornaments, too. So, on my way home, I bought myself an artificial tree from Walgreens. It wasn’t very tall or full, but putting my ornaments on its branches — and remembering special times with family and friends — restored my Christmas spirit. That was Anne Marie’s last Christmas. Her legacy lives on, though, through the lives of her children and grandchildren, and in the happy memories of her that I carry around in my heart. I especially feel her presence each year, as I hang ornaments that she gave to me on my smallish Walgreens tree — celebrating

Michael,“What’s your favorite song?” Without missing a beat, Michael said,“Sunshine on My Shoulders.” “Can you sing it?” Tom asked. And, much to the surprise of both my husband and me, Michael began singing — and he knew nearly every word. When he finished, we all applauded, and Michael blushed and raced out of the room. Michael’s performance of that John Denver song made that Christmas one that I’ll never forget. — Kathy Welton joined The Laker/Lutz News in 2007. She handles a wide array of administrative and circulation duties, including dealing with delivery issues, mailing published advertisements to those who placed them, and keeping track of office supplies.

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This Walgreens tree will always remind me of Heather and Bob’s act of kindness to restore my Christmas spirit.

Christmas and all that it means during Anne Marie’s favorite season. — B.C. Manion is community editor of The Laker/Lutz News, joining the paper in 2010. She writes news and features, takes photographs and edits the work of her colleagues.

nce upon a time, in a land far, far away, I dreamed that I was a princess. I was 10 years old, and pink and purple were the colors that shimmered and shined for me. I wanted a bedroom fit for a princess. I wanted pink walls and a fullsized white canopy bed with layers of purple ruffles, white nightstands with small lamps that were fitting, and a white fur rug to place my princess feet upon.This was a Christmas wish. As the gifts started going under the tree, I would try to figure out which part of my princess room could fit into the box. The day arrived when a very large, but flat, gift appeared. Could it be my princess bed? My parents asked me if I really thought a big canopy princess bed could fit into such a box. How could it? I knew they were right: No way a bed could fit into that box. Why should Christmas come to our home when my one and only wish was not coming true? Christmas morning came anyway. The house was full of soft and glowing lights from the tree and decorations, hot chocolate was in our cups, and beautiful Christmas music was playing throughout the house. Everything was beautiful, and we were all happy and dancing around, enjoying our Christmas Day. I told my mom that it didn’t matter too much that I would not have a princess room, and that I still liked Christmas Day. She smiled and winked at me. She told me that I have been a princess since the day I was born, and I didn’t need some silly bed to prove it. We gathered around the tree, and I was instructed to open the first and largest gift. I opened an end and peeked inside. There was a picture of the most beautiful canopy bed I had ever seen. It was not just white, but trimmed in gold. I was so overwhelmed, I cried. There was no way that a bed was inside. My parents had convinced me it could not be. The box was opened, and piece-bypiece, it came out to make my complete full-sized princess bed. Not only that, I had a matching dresser, two bedside stands, white shimmering lamps, and layers upon layers of purple bedding, canopy and curtains. Within a week, my beautiful pink and purple princess room was complete, right down to the white fur rug. I still remember the way it looked. But the best present I received that Christmas was not that, it was the memory of those words my mother spoke. — Carolyn Bennett joined The Laker/Lutz News in 2004. She is responsible for processing advertising copy for production, and ensures ads are scheduled and running correctly in the paper. She also is the paper’s customer service representative and sales assistant.

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December 24, 2014


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