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Weeks of December 19 & 26, 2012

Tidbits looks at some lovely

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Christmas Ornaments by Patricia L. Cook This Tidbits examines ornaments used during the Christmas holidays. Some are historical, most beautiful, many breakable, and plenty just fun! • One of the dictionary definitions for ornamental is: decorative: serving as a decoration and having no practical use. • Historically it is said that the holiday tradition of decorating Christmas trees started in Germany. The first decorations were simple white candles followed by roses a bit later.

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• In 1605, a groundbreaking moment occurred when a tree in Strasbourg, France, a city on the Rhine River near the German border, was brought inside for decorating. It was adorned with paper roses, nuts, wafers, sweets and lighted candles. After this, more trees were brought indoors and making ornaments became a family holiday tradition.

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Tidbits of Greeley & West Weld County • Much imagination was used to come up with thoughtful and creative decorations, including cookies and painted eggshells. The introduction of tinsel in 1610 was a huge favorite, originally made with pure silver.

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• One of the first Christmas trees in England was an 1840 Royal Family celebration when Queen Victoria included a tree in honor of her Germanborn husband Prince Albert’s heritage. Being the great influence that she was, many people wanted their own trees! • Many of the ornaments in the early years of decorating trees were handmade from paper, cloth or even foods, such as cookies. Hand-stitched snowflakes were also very popular.

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• Special items that emerged for decorating trees in America were cranberries and popcorn. Early Americans would string the readily available, colorful foods for trimming their trees. • President Franklin Pierce was the first U.S. president to have a Christmas tree in the White House, in 1856. The first “national” Christmas tree erected was by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. However, the first “official” tree was not switched on complete with electric lights until President Calvin Coolidge moved the tree to its location near the White House in 1923.

• When World War I broke out in 1914 many things, including sentiments toward purchases of Christmas ornaments, changed. There was a backlash against all things German. Sales and production of German ornaments slowed, but only for a while. • Also, Japan started producing ornaments on a huge scale in the 1920s and took a slice out of the ornament market that Germany held. The Japanese specialized in newer and more colorful designs. The Czech Republic also became known for their fancy Christmas ornaments and shipped many to the U.S. • More than 250 million Christmas ornaments were being imported to America by 1935, mostly from Germany, Japan, and the Czech Republic. This was when U.S. businessman and German immigrant, Max Eckhardt, an importer of ornaments, knew that America needed to be producing, not just importing. • Eckhardt and Bill Thompson of the F.W. Woolworth Company worked together to convince the Corning Glass Company of Corning, New York to enter the ornament market. Corning had been making thousands of light bulbs out of very thin glass using a “ribbon” glassblowing machine. The machine could produce 2,000 bulbs per minute! Eckhardt believed the machine could be altered to produce Christmas ornaments instead of light bulbs.

• Up until the 1880s Christmas ornaments were mainly handmade by families and friends and given as gifts. Many were disposed of after a season. The only ornaments sold publicly were hand-cast lead and hand-blown glass German decorations. • German entrepreneurs saw the possibility of a market developing for mass marketed ornaments in the early1880s. • Lauscha, Germany became the hub of the glass ornament business and had many glass companies. For years they had been producing glass articles such as marbles and bottles and soon began creating glass molds for ornaments. Their first ornaments were molds of Christian saints, famous people, children, animals and more. These new ornaments were a huge success and were in demand. Nearly every family in the Lauscha area became involved in the business of making glass Christmas ornaments either in a home-based foundry or local factory • Ornaments became highly prized possessions with the special touches of individual craftsmanship. Germany captured the world market for glass Christmas ornaments for many years. • Another German city, Dresden, near Lauscha, started its own ornament businesses, different from the glass ornaments of their neighbors. The Dresden artists constructed brightly colored designs of birds, fish and other animals out of pressed and embossed paper. Their treasures were a hit as well; for weddings, birthdays and other occasions in addition to Christmas. • As the decorations gained popularity in the Unit-

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• Corning began trials with their equipment and employees, making ornaments in various shapes and sizes. Soon, it was clear they had the equipment and abilities for the job. Woolworth’s requested production of over 230,000 glass holiday items for their stores. In 1939 they began selling the American-made ornaments. • By 1940, Corning Glass was producing nearly 300,000 decorations per day and shipping them all over the U.S. Corning actually sold most of their ornaments to Shiny Brite, a company owned by Max Eckhardt. Eckhardt’s business was so big, he had four New Jersey locations and his main office and display room in New York City. • Eckhardt’s Shiny Brite factories continued making glass Christmas balls and decorations throughout World War II. They used innovative solutions when products were rationed. When metal paints and varnish were not available, the company would use lighter paints and cardboard instead of the usual metal tops and heavy paint. • In the post-war era, Shiny Brite began using vibrant hues and used metal tops again for their ornaments. They were stamped to show that Shiny Brite ornaments were U.S.- made! The boxes were even marked “American made.” These are valuable collectibles today. -

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FRUIT CAKE

Fruit cake has been baked as a holiday treat since at least the 16th century – and maybe before. Some think the same cake has traveled the globe many times and no one wants to eat it! • The earliest known recipe for fruitcake that exists was from ancient Rome. Among the ingredients were pomegranate seeds, raisins, and pine nuts, mixed in a barley mash. Later, honey, preserved fruits and spices were added. • Because fruitcake’s dense consistency and its longevity allowed for it to be held for many days, early hunters and warriors took it with them on long journeys.

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• Even though fruit cake is and has been the butt of many jokes for years, Albert Parker saw a fine product with a future when he purchased the Claxton Bakery in 1945. The bakery was opened in 1910 by Savino Tos, an Italian immigrant who had moved to Georgia from New York City. He operated the bakery until 1945 when he sold the business to Albert, who had worked there since he was 11. • When Albert noticed that grocery stores were starting to sell fresh bread and other bakery items on their shelves, he knew that he needed to do something to set his bakery apart. He decided to specialize in the “high quality fruit cake” that townspeople had been enjoying during the holiday season each year. In the first year that his company mass produced fruit cakes, Parker and his small crew of employees baked 45,000 pounds (20,412 kg) of Claxton Fruit Cakes! • Even if you think you don’t like fruit cake, maybe you should try a Claxton specialty. Look for the cakes with a unique horse and buggy label. They are sold by mail order and in many stores every year during the holidays. • The term “nutty as a fruitcake” was coined in 1935 when some American bakeries with access to cheaper nuts started adding larger quantities of nuts to their cakes. Claxton Fruit Cakes are “approximately 70% choice fruits and nuts.”

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I THINK SANTA IS A WOMAN!

For starters, the vast majority of men don’t even think about selecting gifts until Christmas Eve. It’s as if they are all frozen in some kind of Ebenezerian Time Warp until 3 p.m. on Dec. 24th, when they - with amazing calm - call other errant men and plan for a last-minute shopping spree. Once at the mall, they always seem surprised to find only Ronco products, socket wrench sets, and mood rings left on the shelves. (You might think this would send them into a fit of panic and guilt, but my husband tells me it’s an enormous relief because it lessens the 11th hour decision-making burden.) On this count alone, I’m convinced Santa is a woman. Surely, if he were a man, everyone in the universe would wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the bag. Another problem for a he-Santa would be getting there. First of all, there would be no reindeer because they would all be dead, gutted and strapped on to the rear bumper of the sleigh amid wideeyed, desperate claims that buck season had been extended. Blitzen’s rack would already be on the way to the taxidermist. Even if the male Santa DID have reindeer, he’d still have transportation problems because he would inevitably get lost up there in the snow and clouds and then refuse to stop and ask for directions. Add to this the fact that there would be unavoidable delays in the chimney, where the Bob Vila-like

Santa would stop to inspect and repoint bricks in the flue. He would also need to check for carbon monoxide fumes in every gas fireplace, and get under every Christmas tree that is crooked to straighten it to a perfectly upright 90-degree angle. Other reasons why Santa can’t possibly be a man: • Men can’t pack a bag. • Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red velvet. • Men would feel their masculinity is threatened ... having to be seen with all those elves. • Men don’t answer their mail. • Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described even in jest as anything remotely resembling a “bowlful of jelly.” • Men aren’t interested in stockings unless somebody’s wearing them. • Having to do the “Ho Ho Ho” thing would seriously inhibit their ability to pick up women. Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a commitment. I can buy the fact that other mythical characters are men... • Father Time shows up once a year unshaven and looking ominous. Definite guy. • Cupid flies around carrying weapons. Guy • Uncle Sam is a politician who likes to point fingers. Ditto Any one of these individuals could pass the testosterone screening test. But not St. Nick. Not a chance. However, as long as we have each other, good will, peace on earth, faith and Bing Crosby’s ”WhiteChristmas,” it probably makes little difference what gender Santa is. I just wish she’d quit dressing like a guy!!! Author unknown


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BlisstikStudio

By Samantha Weaver • It was Albert Einstein who offered the following explanation of relativity: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” • In Singapore, one of the colorful customs is training birds for singing competitions. It’s not always just a hobby, though; for some, it’s a serious -- and costly -- business. A single welltrained bird might sell for as much as $60,000. • If you’re an oenophile -- that’s an aficionado of wine -- you probably won’t be surprised to learn that as the cost of a wine goes up, so does a drinker’s appreciation of that wine. It seems that it’s not all about the quality of the vintage, though: In a recent study, tasters were offered two samples of the same wine, but each sample was labeled with a different price. The tasters overwhelmingly preferred the more expensive vintage. • Only one-fifth of homes in America are not airconditioned. In the sweltering South, a mere 5 percent lack that vital amenity. • Those who study such things say that the wind power in an average hurricane is equivalent to 1.5 trillion watts. That’s the same amount of power that is generated by fully half of the entire world’s generating capacity. • The works of Agatha Christie have been translated more times into other languages than those of any other author in history. • Many people see dogs as doing heroic work in tandem with law enforcement and the military, but they’re not the only animals put to such use. In Mozambique, sniffer rats are being used to find unexploded land mines so experts can disarm them. They’re known as HeroRATs. *** Thought for the Day: “To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first. And, whatever you hit, call it the target.” -- Ashleigh Brilliant (c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.

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From Scrooge to Saint

A tired traveler and his very pregnant wife needed a place to stay after a wearisome day on the road. They came upon a two-bit motel and sought a warm room from the innkeeper. “My wife is pregnant and we are both exhausted,” pleaded the man. “We need a room for the night.” “No vacancy!” the man shouted from the crack in the door. “But sir my wife is about to give birth and…” “OK”, grumbled the man, “You can sleep in the barn out back, now leave me alone.” That night, surrounded by the musty odors of the barn and the presence of a variety of animals that sought refuge in the same structure, the man’s wife gave birth to a lovely little baby boy. The next day the motel was a-buzz with the news that a baby was born out back. Even the innkeeper, aroused by the activity, likely wandered out to the shed to see for himself. Now I know the original story doesn’t say so, but I believe that once the innkeeper saw the little baby boy, that suddenly a room became available for him and his mother; and other resources that the new family needed were freely offered. I think that once the innkeeper saw the baby, his apathy changed to sympathy and his hard heart turned to compassion. Why do I think that happened? Because that’s the kind of impact this little baby has had on people around the world for well over two thousand years. When they take a good look at that little baby born behind the motel in that smelly barn, their lives are changed. They go from Scrooge to saint, from taker to giver, from tightwad to philanthropist, from miser to minister.

Need some evidence? Just take a look around. You’ll find hospitals, schools, social service agencies and volunteer groups in every land helping the sick, teaAching the uninformed, housing the homeless, caring for the dying, and joyfully doing the work that many people think should be done by some cold, soulless government agency. Show me a hospital erected by an atheist, or find me a social service agency funded by agnostics. There are few if any volunteer organizations that serve the hurting word established by humanists, new-agers, Marxists, or secular progressives. When disaster comes to any location on earth who arrives to help first - the National Association of Wiccans? What about the ACLU, do they show up? Only if some kindly volunteer is caught praying with a hurting soul, then they’ll jump into action and try to shut down the whole operation. You can depend on it, when disaster comes to almost any place on earth the first help on scene usually comes from the Salvation Army. This impressive, worldwide organization was started in 1875 in England by a Christian minister to the slums of London where thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunkards were among his first converts. It’s a matter of fact: there is no other religion in all the world that is as generous, loving, caring and other-oriented as the one that started in the back yard of that two-bit motel a couple of millennium ago. I can’t explain it but for some reason when people consider the meaning of that special birth and the message of love and forgiveness that came from his lips later in life, they change. They go from being wasted, wandering malcontents to useful, generous citizens. They no longer focus just on what they can get, but ask, “What can I give, how can I help?”

Dr. Ross is the publisher of Tidbits of Greeley. Dr. Ross is also the Voice of Tidbits Radio on 1310KFKA Every Saturday Noon - 1pm. He is available to speak at your service club or other event. Read his blog at RonRosstToady.com. To contact him email: RonRoss@TrustTidbits.com.

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• On Dec. 18, 1777, the new United States celebrates its first national day of thanksgiving, commemorating the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga after the surrender of Gen. John Burgoyne and 5,000 British troops that October. • On Dec. 22, 1808, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony has its world premiere in Vienna. The concert venue was freezing cold and the orchestra played poorly enough to force the nearly deaf composer -- also acting as conductor and pianist -- to stop the ensemble partway into one passage and start again from the very beginning. • On Dec. 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, N.C., Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight of a self-propelled aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120

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feet on its inaugural flight. • On Dec. 19, 1917, four teams of the National Hockey League play the league’s first two games. At the time of its inception, the NHL was made up of the Canadiens and the Wanderers (both of Montreal), the Ottawa Senators, the Quebec Bulldogs and the Toronto Arenas. • On Dec. 23, 1968, the crew and captain of the U.S. intelligence gathering ship Pueblo are released after 11 months imprisonment by the government of North Korea. The ship, and its 83-man crew, was seized by warships on Jan. 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters. • On Dec. 21, 1970, rock star Elvis Presley pays a surprise visit to President Richard Nixon at the White House to discuss the war on drugs. Presley apparently was not

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�������� �������������������������� searched before being granted admission: Upon meeting Nixon, he presented the president with a gift -- a World War II-era Colt .45 pistol. • On Dec. 20, 1989, “Roger & Me,” a documentary by Michael Moore about his quest to interview Roger Smith, then chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors, opens in theaters. The film examines the devastating impact on the people of Moore’s hometown of Flint, Mich., following the closing of several General Motors auto plants in the area. (c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.


Page 8

Tidbits of Greeley & West Weld County

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Greeley Tidbits Issue 858 & 859