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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Friday, December 14, 2012

Local holiday entertainment for the family By Dan Marois Feature Writer

Joining Willette will be local artists Angela and Shawn Robitaille, Kathy Haley, the Elizabeth Hansen Dancers, Devin Dukes, and, of course, Santa (played by Bruce Gerry), Rudolph, and lots of children.


don’t have to travel far from Lewiston-Auburn to find an array of holiday entertainment offerings suitable for families. Here are a few upcoming events that you won’t want to miss.

Willette’s guests will sing well-known yuletide songs such as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” ”Let It Snow,” “O Holy Night,” and many more beloved holiday tunes.

“The Elves and the Shoemaker,” Monmouth Youth Theater – Dec. 14-15 – Cumston Hall

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. performance are $16 for adults/$14 for seniors and students.

“The Elves And The Shoemaker” will be presented December 14th and 15th at Cumston Hall, Main Street, at 7 p.m. Donations accepted at the door. General seating. Performed by Monmouth Youth Theater. This MYTH performance features 44 children, pre-K through grade 8, from six local towns. Included are elves, fairies, stars, lightning, road signs, the moon and sun, shoppers, villagers, dancing shoes and evening slippers, a shoemaker, his wife, and a narrator. Music is performed by Kent Ackley, violinist. Stage set is created by David and Michelle Handley. This production was adapted for Cumston Hall stage, choreographed, and directed by Nancy Ludewig. This is for the young and forever young and lasts about an hour.

The Mike Willette Christmas Show – Dec. 15 – Franco-American Heritage Center Take a trip back in time to the Christmas shows of the 1960s and 1970s with the family friendly stylings of Andy Williams and Perry Como.

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Boston String Quartet – Christmas in Paris – Dec. 20 Franco-American Heritage Center

Illustration by Cindy Chen

Visit this link for more information about the original Brothers Grimm fairytale before attending the theatrical performance of this longenduring story:

On Saturday, Dec. 15, Mike Willette will present his Christmas variety show, especially timely this year with the passing of crooner Andy Williams in late September. Willette’s show, featuring music, skits, and comedy, is designed to evoke memories of the TV broadcasts Williams once hosted.

The final Christmas show of the season at the FrancoAmerican Heritage Center, “Christmas in Paris,” will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20. For tickets, call (617) 868-1118 or visit

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Musicians to present an evening of music and giving. Light refreshments from 5 to 9pm during Portland’s Merry Madness, December 13 th. Come purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win an Oris Watch. All proceeds to benefit The Family Crisis Center, Portland, Maine.

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The Quartet will be exploring Parisian life by presenting music from hit movies such as Scorsese’s “Hugo” and the French award winning “The Illusionist,” jazz legends Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, native French group, the Gipsy Kings, music from the beloved Edith Piaf, and traditional French carols. All arrangements are written by Quartet members.

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The Boston String Quartet returns this holiday season for their third annual Christmas series entitled “Christmas in Paris.” The performance includes French carols and new stories with a multimedia adventure through La Ville Lumiere, the City of Lights.

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Happy holidays to all! Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Six gift ideas for her this holiday season By Donna Rousseau Feature Writer


hopping for the special girls or women in your life can be tougher than it seems. If choosing the right size, color, or scent has got you on a wild Christmas chase, here are a few ready ideas sure to please. W hether your girl is a “dare to wear” or is a little more understated, animal prints are all the rage this season and can be found in the bargain-priced as well as higher-end department stores. For just a hint of print, texting gloves with animal print trim are great for the girl who likes to keep herself in the chat loop. Try a silk scarf for a fun touch to a classic outfit and younger girls will love the novelty, fuzzy scarves in leopard or tiger prints with large paws where the fringe should be. Try a gift of flats or boots as another good way for her to wear the trend without feeling overwhelmed by it. Many stores offer a choice of footwear at reasonable prices. For a woman or girl on the go, a color block satchel bag or purse is the “just right” accessory that can finish a fashion statement. Color combinations vary as do material and styles. Look for black and white, navy and black, beige and tan, or a color combined with brown or tan. Grace Adele, a Scentsy Family company, offers a line of bag and clutch combinations; think two bags in one. With this line you can create a color combo from a range of available shades and accessorize with wallets, cell phone keepers, and jewelr y designed to personalize each bag. Check them out online to locate a consultant in your area or for more information. Pamper her with a spa experience without leaving home. Facial steamers range in price from a Conair model ringing in at $20 to a Panasonic Ion Steamer for $125. If she loves a manicure or pedicure, search cosmetic departments and cosmetic specialty stores for nail kits for girls of all ages. Less pricey nail kits consist of a simple line of “DIY” manicure products while more expensive kits feature professional


Give a fashion gift that matches the style of the recipient, a gift that affords her the opportunity to pamper herself at home, or a gift that enables her to bake desserts as sweet as she is – without breaking your budget. quality polishes, tools, and accessories for the gal who really relishes the nail experience.

design websites that offer the service. Depending on the site, size, and design, prices begin at $30 for a small canvas.

Sweets for the sweet, the Smart Planet MCM-1 Mini Cupcake Maker may appeal the baker and sweet lover of any age. Reviewed by Good Housekeeping, it’s easy to use, comes with a recipe book (but you can use your own or box mixes), and takes 15 minutes from bake to frost and eat. Search Amazon for best prices, but expect to pay about $40.

Although technology has made it easier than ever to capture pictures on the spot, where’s the fun? Fujifilm and Polaroid both offer instant digital cameras with printers that provide immediate gratification.

For something off the beaten path, have a retro pop art canvas created from a personal photo of her. This Warhol-style art is funky, colorful, and sure to be a conversation piece. In the movie, Working Girl, Sigourney Weaver’s character has a huge pop art photo of herself in her apartment. There are many

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

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Fewer or more camera features are available depending on the model but all can produce instant pictures to share with friends. It’s a gift idea that can bring a party to life in a flash. So think photos, fashion, food, and fun when shopping for her this holiday. Remember, if you’re excited to give it, she’ll be excited to receive it. Just be sure your surprise stays “under wraps” until Christmas!

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The local holiday: Long ago in downtown Lewiston-Auburn Up and down Lisbon Street, the stores of 65 years ago sold many items that have disappeared from daily life.

By David A. Sargent Feature Writer

The perfect holiday gift for your favorite golfer!



Enjoy the Holiday Season!

In Auburn, Gee & Bee Sporting Goods was at 58 Court St. and today it is still in business on Mount Auburn Avenue. Down-

-G RA y

Peck’s tops the list. Its main windows featured life-size, animated holiday scenes, and a visit to Santa’s Village at Peck’s was every child’s objective. This store’s history spanned 101 years at the head of the street until it closed in 1981. Today, the building is a call center for L.L. Bean, as well as other office tenants, and the four-story building is still an attractive anchor building for Lewiston.

Penney’s on Main Street near Peck’s had a big bread box sale; Bauer Hardware, 239 Main St., had sleds for $3.85 and handcranked food choppers for $4.50; Berry Paper Co. had the fashionable “Parker 51” ball point pen for $12.50 and $15. And everything imaginable was available at Kresge’s, Newberry’s, Ward Bros., Senter’s, Atherton’s Furniture, Montgomery Ward, and so many more downtown stores.


Let’s take 1947 as a destination in time. Advertisements in the Lewiston Daily Sun and Lewiston Evening Journal are a magic key to unlocking a flood of memories for many members of the older generation.

The Record Shop at Lisbon and Pine, which would later be renamed DeOrsey’s when it moved next to Berry Paper Co., listed dozens of 78-rpm records at 75 cents each. There was “White Christmas” (by Harry James, not Bing Crosby), “Here Comes Santa Claus” by Gene Autry, “Too Fat Polka” by Arthur Godfrey, and a Frank Sinatra tune that missed the hit list called, “The Dum Dot Song.” The record stores in those days had listening booths where you could preview the songs before buying.


A trip back to those days would be a marvelous experience, and one way to do it is through the pages of old newspapers. They were packed with Christmas ads for the many large and small stores in the bustling downtown areas of Auburn and Lewiston. Most of these businesses are long-gone; some are still doing business at other locations in L-A.

At Peck’s, ladies’ nylon stockings sold in a two-pair box for $2.90. The ad stated, “There’s stardust in a woman’s eyes when Alba nylons are on her legs.” They came in 45 gauge, 30 denier, which are specifications of quality that shoppers don't need these days.


"The head of the street” was the place to be at Christmas time in the Twin Cities for many years. It meant the intersection of Main and Lisbon streets where the enchanting decorations on Peck’s department store facade and in its windows were the focal point for crowds of shoppers. Shoulder-to-shoulder, shoppers filled the sidewalks and lined up to board buses that arrived in a constant flow.




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town Auburn also was home to Carroll’s Music Store, Wilson Dollar Store, and Flanders’ in the Auburn Hall building, which sold “Correct Clothes for Men.” Christmas shopping is different these days, but it’s a holiday that will always make memories, no matter how customs and places may change.

Gifts for the junior golfer The Junior Golf Card program has expanded to 20 courses for 2013. The card saves youths ages 17 and under 50 percent off (unlimited use all season) at 20 partnering golf courses in Maine, plus other golf-related discounts, and is valid for the entire 2013 season. It is available for purchase at Play it Again Sports in Auburn or online at for only $29. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the cards will benefit First Tee of Maine. For more information on the Junior Golf Card, including a listing of participating golf courses and discounts, go to or call 713-3879.




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Above: A holiday advertisement from Gee & Bee Sporting Goods as published in a 1947 Lewiston Sun Journal edition.

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Volunteering and goodwill toward humankind during the holidays By Donna Rousseau Feature Writer

Becoming a Salvation Army volunteer is easy. Visit their office at 67 Park Street, Lewiston, and complete an application.


“Let us know the days and times you’re available and how to contact you,” said Brake.

The Sa lvation A rmy’s largest f undraising initiative of the year is its Christmas Assistance Program. Last year the organization supported 476 families for the holidays, collecting toys for children 12 years and under, as well as clothing and food. It is anticipated that they will serve between 400 to 500 families again this Christmas season.

The mission often has volunteers from the community to help with preparing, serving, and delivering holiday meals. For those able, holiday meals are shared in the mission dining room, but meals are also delivered to people who are homebound.

holiday season draws us together like no other. Our togetherness brings to mind our blessings and that mindfulness often sparks a desire to help those less fortunate. Many agencies rely on that generosity to continue their good work for others all year long.

Salvation Army’s Lt. Jason Brake said, “The holidays seem to be the time when people think of us the most. Companies bring in toys and people take tags from our Christmas tree at the Auburn Mall. Coordinating toys and the right sizes for 1,100 to 1,200 children – Christmas Assistance is a huge project. ”

Hope Haven Mission in Lewiston provides shelter for homeless men and women in addition to running a food pantry and clothing giveaway. Their kitchen serves the community breakfast from 7:30 to 8 a.m. and supper between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.

According to a mission representative, they often have families come at the holidays to assist with delivery. “We provide them with 10 meals, names, and directions,” she said. “And they deliver the meals right to the people’s homes.”

Brake added that the familiar red kettles seen at various locations throughout the cities are critical to their fundraising during this time year as well. All the money raised through the kettles allows the Salvation Army to carry out its mission, not just at Christmas, but all year long.

To become a volunteer for Hope Haven, ca ll their 209 Lincoln Street, Lewiston location at 207-783-6086, ext. 201. A representative will take names and provide details on where, when, and how to help. Other than the holidays, volunteer opportunities are limited to assisting with meal preparation and building upkeep as much of the work is done by the people who reside in the home.

With a Lewiston-Auburn office consisting of all volunteers, Brake always welcomes an additional pair of hands.

Goodwill Industries of Northern New England’s need for volunteers is driven specifically by the requests of the people

“During the year, we operate a food pantry, provide clothing vouchers and utilities assistance, and we serve lunch from a mobile kitchen Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” said Brake. “Our biggest need is for volunteers for bell ringing, but there are other opportunities from answering phones to helping to clean and maintain the building.” When there aren’t enough volunteers, Brake and his wife undertake what needs doing.

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who live in the homes the organization operates. Times of year present different needs according to Robin Hughes, volunteer program coordinator. During the holidays, each home makes their requests for what support they need and volunteers are matched to the requests. For instance, a home might need volunteers to assist people in making a craft to give as a gift. Another might need people to help with holiday baking or decorating. Volunteers can also provide Goodwill with ideas of what they would like to do and Hughes can match them to her requests. An example would be a musician willing to provide some holiday music. Michelle Smith, communication manager for Goodw ill Industries of NNE said, “Your donation of time, talent, and expertise helps Goodwill provide programs and services for individuals with barriers to independence. There are many opportunities to fit individual schedules and interests and we work with a volunteer to make a match that fits the needs.” Anyone interested in volunteering for Goodwill may contact Hughes by phone at 207-774-6323, ext. 6316 or via email at The reality is that there are many organizations that rely on volunteer generosity and the holidays present many opportunities to lend a hand. The human spirit can’t help but be touched by the goodwill that comes from sharing the blessings of a bountiful life and that is a gift worth giving the whole year through.



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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

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Celebrating the holidays with your pet


holidays can be a fun time for the whole family – and that includes family pets. If your pet deserves some special holiday love, here are some “pawfect” ideas to help you celebrate the holidays together.

Stocking stuffers Hang a stocking on the mantle for your pet and fill it with holiday toys and treats. A new chew toy, a catnip-filled mouse, special treats to eat – there are plenty of ways to fill up a pet stocking with fun, budget-friendly items.

Showing holiday spirit Dress up your pet w it h some seasona l w inter out f its exclusively from PetSmart. The Martha Stewart Pets Elf Hoodie has cute faux ears and a fuzzy cotton ball at the tip of the hat. Or, to add a little merry mischief, try the Top Paw Sock Monkey sweater, which has button eyes, stitched ears, and mouth on the back.

Safe treats Dogs would love to nibble on your holiday table scraps, but that’s not always a good thing. Keep your treats out of their reach, and make pets their own holiday bites with the new Sunbeam Gourmet Dog Treat Maker. You can make delicious doggie snacks using ingredients already in your pantry, like peanut butter.

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Holiday styles and photo opportunities Help your pet look his or her best by schedu ling a n appointment at the PetSmart grooming salon. Then get your picture taken together with Santa at a local Santa Claws event during the first three weekends of December. A portion of the proceeds supports local animal-welfare organizations that are participating in the event.

Share the love with pet-themed gifts The Top Fin Grinch and Ma x Sleigh Fishbowl is a fun, decorative piece that will look great in your child’s room. Personalized food dishes, mats, and pet beds are always a special gift to give. Or, win over the wine lover in your life with pet-themed wine glasses and accessories.

Gifts that give back You can help save homeless pets by purchasing collectible LuvA-Pet plush toys. This year choose from Chance, the adopted dog; Lucky, the adopted cat; and a special Bret Michaelsinspired version of Chance. Ten percent of the purchase price goes to PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animalwelfare efforts in North America. To learn more about these holiday gifts for pets and pet lovers, as well as tips for dog and cat owners, visit (Family Features)

Don’t forget holiday safety for your pet While people are ho-ho-ho-ing and hustling and bustling, pets may not be as enamored with the holiday season as their human counterparts. That’s because, amid the blur of activities that fill the season, there are potential sources of stress and dangers to pets. What can be so dangerous about holiday festivities and decorations? A lot, according to veterinarians and pet advocacy experts. The ASPCA, among other groups, warns of the toxic items and unhealthy treats that abound this time of year. Approximately 1,300 people are treated each year in emergency rooms for

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The holidays can be a fun time for the whole family – and that includes family pets. injuries related to holiday lights. Another 6,200 are treated for injuries related to holiday decorations and Christmas trees. These injuries are occurring to people who know better. Just think about the pets that do not understand the dangers around them. Pet parents have to be responsible for their animals’ safety, too.

Know what’s toxic Everything from snow globes to tinsel can wreak havoc on pets’ delicate intestinal systems. Many holiday plants, like holly and poinsettia, contain oils that can be fatal to pets if consumed. Snow globes often contain antifreeze, which is well known as toxic to pets. Snow sprays and snow f lock contain chemicals that can be irritants if inhaled or consumed. Tinsel and pine needles can cause choking and intestinal obstruction if consumed by smaller animals, like cats and rodents. (Metro)

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Gift ideas for your gamer this holiday season

Top tech gifts for $300 or less


visions of smartphones have replaced the sugarplums in your holiday dreams, you’re not alone. More than 35 percent of Americans include consumer electronics on the list of gifts they want to receive for the holidays, according to the National Retail Federation. With the NRF predicting consumer spending this holiday season will increase 4 percent over 2011, it seems likely demand for tech gifts will keep pace.

you aren’t a gamer yourself, buying for one can sometimes be a bit overwhelming considering the rapidly evolving technology and the choices in video games. With a few bits of good advice, you can easily find a gift that will delight anyone who enjoys gaming. Keep in mind that gamers are always looking for ways to improve their playing experience. Therefore, there’s no such thing as a gamer who has everything. Here are a few ways to find the perfect gift for the video game-lover in your life. • Buy them new games based on fan-favorite classic brands. Find a genre that features inherently fun and timelessly cool gameplay. This holiday season, you can find two new offerings from the TRANSFORMERS franchise for gamers of every age, allowing players to assume control of the famous transforming robots. TR ANSFORMERS: FALL OF CY BERTRON allows players to experience the most pivotal, post-apocalyptic battles of TRANSFORMERS lore that lead to their famed exodus from their home planet. Great for older teens and adults, the game is a cinematic and immersive action shooter available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Great for younger fans, TRANSFORMERS PRIME is a familyfriendly game based on the popular animated television series of the same name. This one lets players change form and power-up their favorite AUTOBOTS in diverse vistas around the world while cultivating friendships with Jack, Miko, and Raf, the human characters from the show. This game is available on Nintendo’s Wii U, Wii, 3DS and DS systems.

High-tech gifts don’t have to be high cost, too. You can find a variety of useful and fun, user-friendly, and elegant tech gifts for less than $300. So when you’re making your holiday shopping list, keep these ideas in mind:

This is a great alternative if you are really having a hard time figuring out what type of gaming hardware to buy or a great complementary gift to a larger gift as well. • Buy a gift card for your recipient’s favorite game or electronics store. If you can’t figure out what to buy, here’s a surefire way to ensure your gamer gets what he or she wants. • Help your gamer enjoy their gaming experience in comfort. Beanbags and other chairs that are designed for gaming will be a huge hit with your recipient. For good measure, throw in their favorite snacks or beverages to enjoy while they play. You don’t have to follow the latest in gaming news to find the perfect gift. Since there are so many different gift options available, there are plenty of ways to enhance the playing experience for the gamer in your life. (BPT)

• Think about accessories. Gamers can never have enough accessories, from extra controllers to gamer-friendly computer keyboards to 3-D glasses for compatible systems. Do a little fishing for ideas by talking to your recipient (or his or her parents) and see if there’s something special to add to their gaming setup.

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Home theater for a song. While LG suggests a price of $329 for the BH6720S – 3D-Capable Blu-Ray Disc Home Theater System with Smart TV and built-in Wi-Fi, you can find it for only $250 to $300. The 5.1 channel speaker system includes four satellite speakers, a center channel speaker and a subwoofer to give you a real theater experience in the comfort of your own living room. “Connected” players like this access to a variety of content and services from the Internet, including movies and music from providers such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, VUDU, CinemaNow, YouTube, Pandora, MOG, and more. All online content can be accessed via a home network using the player’s built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. They’ve got you covered. Even if you love your iPad (and who doesn’t?), there are times when you yearn for an actual keyboard. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover attaches to your iPad with magnets and functions as a keyboard. A leading product review site called it “the best keyboard accessory ever made for the iPad.” Prices range around $100, depending on where you buy. Great tunes cubed. From serving as a dock for your iPod, iPhone, or iPad to functioning as a good old-fashioned alarm clock with FM radio, LG’s ND8520 does it all. The unique cube design delivers premium sound with its 2.1 Channel speaker system and built-in subwoofer. It’s also Airplay compatible, so you can easily stream your favorite tunes wirelessly. Android phone users can wirelessly stream their music via Bluetooth. The suggested retail price is $299, but you can probably find good deals at this time of year. (BPT)

• Find official apparel from their favorite game titles or vintage video game T-shirts, which are sure to be a hit especially if your recipient is a bit older and has been a long-time gamer.

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012



Traditions: Dear Santa letters By Tresa Erickson Feature Writer


ach year as Christmas approaches, children all over the world sit down to pen a letter to Santa. Some tell Santa how good they have been and how much they are looking forward to his visit. Others wish Santa well and remind him what they want for Christmas. When finished, the children slip their letter into an envelope, seal it, address it to the North Pole, and slide it into the mailbox. Surprisingly, many receive an answer to their letter, thanks to postal workers and other volunteers around the world. Writing a letter to Santa has long been a tradition. Children in Great Britain used to burn their letters in the hopes the wind would transport them to the North Pole. Today, that is no longer the case. Children look to their post office to help them get their letters to Santa. According to estimates, post offices around the world receive approximately 100 Santa letters a day during the summer and many times that during the holiday season. In tough economic times, post offices receive more than double the usual amount of letters.

I have been good until last nite when the cat scratched me and I was mad at it and thought i caught mouse disease. – Mallori, 9, Nova Scotia.

known as Operation Santa Claus, a program that operates in many post offices around the country. Hundreds of postal workers and volunteers take time out to answer letters. At the Alaskan North Pole, for example, over a million letters have been sent out. Other nations have their ow n version of Operation Santa Claus, including Canada, Finland, France, and Germany. France has one of the largest programs, hiring over 50 people just to answer letters to Pere Noel. For those who don’t live in an area with such a program but have Internet access, several websites are available that accept and respond to letters to Santa by email. Parties interested in volunteering to answer letters to Santa should check with their local post office first and see if such a program is available. Due to security reasons and mailing costs, post offices will no longer mail or fax letters to volunteers. Volunteers must pick them up in person. If there is no program, perhaps one could be started. W hat child wouldn’t appreciate a response from Santa?

W hile postal workers could let the letters sit, that is not an option for many. In 1912, U.S. Post Service Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock began permitting postal workers in New York City to respond to the letters. This was the start of what would become

I want a puppy because they are cute, I want pjs because I need them, I want pants so people won’t see my underwear. That is why I need those things. – Jacqui, 8, Illinois.

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can you please help the homeless children have a good Christmas w it h at least something really good to eat and maybe a small toy for them to love. – Andrew, 7, Massachusetts. please send me pj’s because we have a woodstove downstairs and my bedroom really gets cold at night and my nose gets almost as red as rudolphs – LeAnna, 10, West Virginia.

I’m sorry I was naughty this year but I can’t help it if I get a really bad case of the grumpies! – Catherine, 4, Pennsylvania.

Dear Santa, I want my own room so I can do my homework or read and my brother and sister won’t disturb me. I can talk to my friends on the phone and no one will hear what I say. – Delorah

Dear Santa, I have been rea lly good this year and I have tried not fight with my brother. He has been hurting and breaking my things. – Alex .

Dear Santa, the reason I want a Wii is because when it snows my sister, my brother and I w ill not be bored. The second reason is we could have something to do over Christmas break. My third reason is so my mom can get some rest over the break. – Briawna

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Santa be carful, we have holes in the floor. peple fall in them. I want to move. Mom says we are going to live on the street. If we are not here plese leve the presets at grammas. I love you! – Elizabeth, 9, Washington.

Dear Santa, my second gift would be having my ears pierced. This would allow me to show I can be responsible. Also, so I can look better. – Katherine

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Operation Santa: Becoming Saint Nick for a Season

W hen you come to our house would you sign my brother’s cast while he is sleeping. That would be SWEET!! – Terri, 8, Wyoming.


round Christmastime in t he early 1900s, New York City postal clerks grew dismayed over the number of letters being “sent” to the North Pole that would never reach their final destination. Realizing that many of the letters expressed real needs from real children, the clerks began chipping together their lunch money to respond to the letters going unanswered. They purchased and personally delivered the gifts requested by the neediest children.

Dear Santa, it is that time of year that you come to bring joy to the world and we give thanks to God and Jesus for the joy they bring us. I am thankful for a family who loves me so much and who gives me love. – Kristina.

But with each year, the number of letters seemed to grow, and the needs along with it. To ease the burden, in 1912, Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local postmasters throughout the country to share these letters with the public. And so Operation Santa was born.

How are you able to get down the chimney and be in so many places throughout the world in just one short night? I need to k now because my mom says her Christmas dress is too small from last year and she says there’s no time to go and get all the things done in time for Christmas? – Elizabeth, 9, Alberta.

Do you have to keep a car battery and some jumper cables in the back of the sleigh,you know, just in case Rudolph’s nose ever goes out? Well just to be safe I’ll have some extra light bulbs next to the cookies.....60 watts ok? – Jessica, 11, California.


For more images of funny letters written by kids to Santa Claus, visit For additional authentic letters to Santa Claus written by children, read Derek Slark’s blog at http://derekslark. I’m going to leave out my report card just to prove how good I’ve been! – Patricia, 12, Québec.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, t he Operation Sa nta program has since evolved into a multicity enterprise, with each sponsoring location working together with indiv idua ls, loca l businesses, charitable organizations, and corporations to meet needs from coast to coast. New York City, the birthplace of the program, still receives the most letters (more than 500,000 each year), but dozens of other areas have signed up to host their own 2012 programs. Any letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole” remain in the area where they were mailed. Postal “elves” then sort through these letters, setting aside any that express great need and removing any personal contact in-


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formation. At that point, individuals wishing to respond on Santa’s behalf can go to their local Post Office, choose a letter that touches them and fits their budget, and return to the Post Office with their gift ready to mail to the child. The Postal Service ensures that all the packages make their way to the right destinations. Those packages can include anything from toothbrushes to clothes to computers. “These children are wishing for the moon,” said Pete Fontana, Operation Santa’s chief elf. “They’re asking for what they can’t afford, what their parents can’t give them. “One year we had a letter that had a specialneeds wheelchair,” Fontana added. “The wheelchair cost over $20,000 to purchase. I made sure that this particular letter made it into the daily newspaper here. The next day, I had that wheelchair.” It’s just one hea r t wa r m i ng exa mple of countless tales Fontana could tell about the generosity of program participants. Even during economically hard-hit years such as 2010, the New York City location pulled in “boxes to the ceiling – literally,” he said. “They had to bring tractor-trailers in to take out all of the boxes for Santa Claus.” A nd hopes are high for 2012. If a ll goes according to plan, the reindeer can expect even more of a workout – one that’s worthy of this special program’s anniversary. For more information, visit

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Get crafty with these holiday gift wrap ideas Make wrapping gifts more fun this holiday season. Get your supplies ready, invite some friends and turn up the holiday music. Before you get started, here are some creative gift wrapping tips from popular crafting blogger, Cindy Hopper, founder of “I love wrapping holiday gifts – from little treasures like seasonal packaged coffee to bigger presents like kids’ toys and electronics – in unexpected and creative ways,” said Hopper. “You don’t need a lot of money, just some motivation and imagination, to create packaging that will make any gift recipient smile.”

Keep it under wraps: Set aside traditional wrapping paper in favor of unexpected materials to make gifts feel even more special. For glitz and glam, try wrapping presents in silver tissue paper, sparkly scrapbook paper or sheets of foil to create stunning style. For the crafters in your life, seasonal fabric makes a great alternative to wrapping paper; and those who love to travel w ill appreciate gifts w rapped in repurposed maps and exotic newspapers. For close family members, children’s artwork makes for original, whimsical wrapping paper that doubles as a special keepsake. Just have your kids draw, doodle or paint on brown craft paper, then use it to wrap presents for grandparents, aunts and uncles.

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Add an adornment: Amp up the wow factor of each package by adding an embellishment t hat doubles as a n extra gif t. Holiday ornaments, silk flowers and even pieces of costume jewelry will make each present a little more personalized – and much more fun to open. Instead of ribbon, you can also try tying up packages with leftover pieces of yarn. Not only is it a cute and unexpected adornment, but the fuzziness of the yarn also adds a cozy texture that’s perfect for the holiday season. If you’re looking for a final finishing touch, tr y ma k ing a bow out of raffia, tulle or holidaythemed Peppermint or Cinnamon Snow EZ Start printed packaging tape. • Contain yourself – Instead of the standard cardboard box, house gifts in decorative tins, hat boxes or fruit crates for a clever presentation. • A touch of fun – Make packaging playful by adding a small toy like a jump rope as ribbon or jingle bells to the top of the gift. • Tie two together – Have the gift and its wrapping complement one another. Place a bag of new Dunkin’ Donuts Gingerbread Cookie packaged coffee in a cookie jar. Present the Pumpkin Spice variety in a basket of mini-pumpkins, or serve Mocha Mint with a favorite chocolate bar. • Keep a cushion – Replace packing peanuts with colorful tissue paper, blown up balloons or even wrapped candies,

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to create an eye-catching display when recipients open their package. • Wrap it up – Instead of purchasing wrapping paper, see what’s available at home to use. Newspaper comics, wallpaper scraps or even pages from an old atlas or map make memorable gift wrap. • Look to nature – Add a fresh flower, pretty shell or sprig of mistletoe for an elegant, outdoor element to any holiday gift. • Two in one – If gifting seasonal food or beverages, pair the gift with serving items. For example, offer name-brand packaged coffee in a mug, or wrap the package with a ribbon attached to a coffee scoop.

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• Stamp it out – View plain wrapping paper as a canvas by covering it with a unique pattern of colorful rubber stamp prints. • Monogram madness – Personalize presents by including the recipients’ initials on the wrapping. Write their initials all over the paper or affix cut out letters or cookie cutters in their initials as tags.

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Play tag: Repurpose last year’s holiday cards to create gift tags that shine. Just cut a design or picture from the front of the card. Then, punch a hole near the edge and use a felt marker to write your recipient’s name on the back. Thread some ribbon through the hole and secure it to your gift for a quick and easy tag that’s sure to stand out.

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Tablet computer shopping tips


ablets are the must-have portable computing device of the moment, making them a top holiday gift. In just a few short years, the number of people with tablets has increased dramatically. Within a year of the iPad’s introduction into the technological lexicon, 11 percent of Americans already owned one. As other tablets and upgraded versions of the iPad entered the market, tablets became more and more popular. A study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group found that the majority of tablet owners (77 percent) use their tablets every day, using them for an average of about 90 minutes. When shopping for a tablet, there are many different features to consider.

Size Tablets come in different sizes, weights, and screen offerings. When the iPad was released, it set the standard screen size at around 10 inches, weighing slightly more than a pound. Tablets made by other manufacturers range in sizes from 12-inch screens to 5-inch screens, giving shoppers the ability to choose a device that is as mobile as they need it to be.

Battery life Many tablet users are interested in the portability of the device. Battery operation makes that portability possible, so it makes sense that battery life is a big draw for consumers. Many tablet reviews cite Android products and the iPad as the best for battery life.

Flexibility Flexibility is also important to prospective tablet buyers. Tablets that are only able to connect to the Internet via a WiFi service will be much more limited in use. Many tablets now come with 3G or Wi-Fi capabilities, enabling the device to work even when you are away from home or a Wi-Fi connection.

Holiday technology gifts for the whole family


uying holiday gifts can be a fun and easy experience when you go to the right place. No matter the age of the person you’re buying for, there is one kind of product that is perfect for everyone: technology. Whether it’s the latest tablet or e-reader, new headphones, or a cool tech accessory for a stocking stuffer, there is something for everyone. Digital lifestyle expert and TV personality, Mario Armstrong, suggests making the shopping experience easy by finding one place shoppers can turn to for all their technology gift shopping needs. “Staples is a great place for tech gifts,” said Armstrong. “They offer customers a great in-store experience where shoppers can test products to ensure they are getting the best gift. Also, if anyone is confused or needs a little guidance, the Staples EasyTech Associates can help customers decide, purchase and even set up the new technology gifts.”

Here are a few of Armstrong’s must-have gifts for this holiday season available at Staples: Tablets and e-readers: Whether you’re simply looking for convenient reading on the go, or a do-it-all media device for the family, tablets continue to do more while costing you less. Products such as the Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD or Google Nexus offer the same reader-friendly experience along with Wi-Fi capabilities and 16 or 32 GB of storage, making it the perfect companion for storing and streaming music and movies, as well. If you appreciate the latest technology, consider trade-in programs that allow you to get value out of your old tablets and e-readers to upgrade to the newest model.

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Android and Windows-based tablets have removable storage options and may be better buys for those who need to save a large number of apps or photos and video.

For the person who enjoys the ability to take movies and music everywhere, a pair of high-definition headphones is the perfect gift. Shopping for technology during the holiday season doesn’t have to be time consuming, once you find the right place that has everything, you’ll be able to check off that list in no time. (BPT)

New Touch Screens: PC users can’t wait to get their hands on this newest operating system for laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets. Windows 8 features a Start screen, live tiles that make it fun to navigate with touch or a mouse and keyboard, apps for work and play in the Windows Store, and more. Customers purchasing a new PC that runs Windows 8 from Staples can receive free one-on-one training on how to use the new system and more.

Storage Some consumers are interested in the amount of data they can store on their tablets. Some reviewers have complained about the inability to add more storage space to the Apple iPad, forcing consumers to purchase a more expensive device just to add more storage.

are hot items this year. If you have someone on your list who won’t leave home without his tablet in hand, consider a tabletfriendly keyboard or fashionable case.

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Price As with any purchase, price is often a big component of decision-making. Therefore, the tablet that offers the most features at the most affordable price may win out. (Metro)

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dessert table doesn’t have to be an enemy during the holidays. Simply be mindful of the portion sizes.

“It isn’t necessary to feel deprived of your favorite desserts,” explained Cher yl Toner, M.S., R.D. “Instead, shift your thinking to how much is enough. When you are living an active, healthy lifestyle, there is room for a small holiday treat.” Indulgence and moderation can go hand in hand w ith CanolaInfo’s “Skinny Mini Holiday Desserts” Recipe Collection. It takes care of portion control for you and features bite-sized indulgences to limit calories while pleasing your sweet tooth. Each skinny mini dessert has 200 calories or less per serving and is made with canola oil, which has the least saturated fat and most omega-3 fat of all common culinary oils. This keeps saturated fat levels in check (2.5 grams or less) in the recipes, which include Mini Peppermint Cupcakes, Almond-Apricot Snowballs, Mini Pear-Ginger Cheesecakes with Ginger Snap Crust, Mini Pumpkin and Date-Nut Cakes with Maple Glaze, Cherry Pie Bites and these pops:

Brownie Party Pops Yield: 32 pops, Serving: One pop

Pops 2 cups milk chocolate chips 1 tsp canola oil

Optional Toppings candy sprinkles chopped peanuts coconut flakes mini chocolate chips

Special equipment 32 candy/lollipop sticks (6-inch) plastic foam block

Brownie Party Pops let you indulge without guilt.

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line bottom and sides of 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil.

Melt milk chocolate chips in double boiler. Add canola oil and stir until smooth.

Leave about 4 inches of overhang on two opposite sides. These serve as handles to remove brownies from pan in one piece, so there should be enough overhang to have a solid grip.

Dip one candy/lollipop stick into melted chocolate (this will help brownie adhere better to stick).

Spray parchment or foil with canola oil. In medium bowl, mix together canola oil, vanilla and eggs until fully combined.


In large, separate bowl, whisk f lour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.

canola oil spray ½ cup canola oil 1¼ tsp vanilla extract 2 eggs ½ cup all-purpose flour 1¼ cups granulated sugar ⅔ cup cocoa powder ¼ tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Slowly whisk liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring constantly. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread brownie batter evenly in lined pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Remove from pan and trim off any overly crusty parts.

Scoop up about 1 Tbsp. of brownie. Form brownie onto stick, making sure brownie is nice, round and secure. Immediately after molding it to stick, dip pops one at a time into melted chocolate. Allow some chocolate to get onto sticks to help keep them secure. Dip into different toppings as desired. Place sticks into plastic foam block to keep them upright as they set. Once all pops are finished, place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set. When finished, store in an airtight container in refrigerator or cool place for up to one week. Nutritional Analysis per Serving (excluding optional toppings): Calories 140, Total Fat 8 g, Sodium 45 mg The complete "Skinny Mini Holiday Desserts" Recipe Collection is at (NAPSI)

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Five tips for a happy holiday gathering


holiday season is all about gathering family and friends together. But hosting any kind of holiday gathering means stacking a lot of items on your plate during an already busy season, taking the fun out of the festivities. With a little planning and the right attitude, you can pull off a fantastic event and enjoy being the holiday host or hostess.

Get the kids involved Give your younger guests a hand-made souvenir. Set up a cookie station with sugar cookies, frosting, colorful sprinkles and toppings so they can decorate their own dessert. You can also set up a small craft table and let them make ornaments to take home and hang on their trees. Make the most of your holiday entertaining by keeping things simple. (Family Features)

Pairing wine with dessert

Author and television host, Katie Brown, understands that when it comes to hosting a gathering – especially a holiday event – success is in the details. Here she shares her top five tips to help you entertain with less stress and more holiday spirit.

Many people are novices when it comes to choosing the right wine to pair with food, and the same can be said when wine carries over into the dessert hour. Dessert is an expansive term for many different culinary creations, so finding the right wine to go with your dessert is not always easy. Here are some suggestions, courtesy of The Nibble, a specialty food magazine.

Make it easy on yourself You don’t need to create an over-the-top, gourmet feast that keeps you slaving in the kitchen. Choose dishes that you can make several days in advance, and then pace yourself. Soups, casseroles, marinated salads and some desserts taste even better when they’ve had time for their flavors to fully blend.

• Apple pie or tartlets: Anjou wines, like Bonnezaux • Cheesecake: Champagne or rick wines, like Sauternes • Chocolate: Late harvest Zinfandel or vintage port • Coconut custard pie: A Beerenauslese Riesling • Cookies: Whatever is the best you have on hand • Fresh fruit: Moscato D’Asti • Pudding or mousse: Fortified Muscats • Tiramisu: Sweet Malvasia or Champagne (Metro)

Don’t worry about stains When people are having a good time spills are bound to happen. But it doesn’t have to ruin your holiday cheer. If an accident happens, you can help prevent stains from setting in by using a stain remover product like OxiClean® Versatile Stain Remover, which is chlorine free and color safe.

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Add simple drama to your décor You don’t need a total room makeover to create a holiday masterpiece. Just think color, pattern and texture. For example, fill vases or bowls with cranberries and sprigs of evergreen, or fill baskets with red apples, or jars with candy canes – the more sizes and shapes the better.

Create an elegant tabletop Decorating is all about editing what you already have. For a chic holiday centerpiece, look for trays, ribbons, books and ornaments, and even leaves and branches from the yard – they can all be used to help set a lovely table. Also important is to make sure your dishes are sparkling clean. According to

With a little planning and the right attitude, you can pull off a fantastic event and enjoy being the holiday host or hostess. a recent survey from the makers of OxiClean®, 88 percent of respondents admit they are embarrassed to serve food on dishes that are cloudy or have spots. To ensure dishes are sparkling clean, use a booster such as OxiClean® Dishwashing Booster in your dishwasher, so you don’t have to worry about embarrassing spots or film that detergent alone can leave behind. For more ways to keep the sparkle in your holidays, visit

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Give the gift of the outdoors this holiday season H ere’s an idea for a new holiday tradition: Unplug the electronics and enjoy the outdoors. According to a survey from L.L.Bean and the National Park Foundation, 60 percent of parents say their children spend less than an hour a day outside and weather can often be a deterrent. With the right gear, however, and a little inspiration, the outdoors can be enjoyed year-round.

For the “gadget guru”

If you’re looking to impress the gadget gurus in your life and motivate them to get outdoors, you can’t go wrong with a Solar Emergency Weather Radio. Excellent for camping and wilderness activities, it’s also a good way to stay informed and prepared during a power outage or emergency.

Here are some gift suggestions from Outdoor Discovery Schools manager, Gretchen Ostherr, to help the whole family get outdoors and active:

Look for a digital readout, earphone jack, built-in LED lights with emergency flash and electronic and cellphone charging ports. You can find these radios in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit an emergency kit, bedside stand, or car.

For the “newbie”

For the “style conscious”

The best way to get people motivated for the outdoors is to start them young. There are many ways to get kids to go outside in cold weather, including gifts such as sleds and toboggans, snowshoes, ice skates, and snow toys.

For the fashion-forward member of your family, shearlinglined boots and down jackets offer a great way to stay on trend while remaining dry and warm, whether commuting to work or walking in the woods.

Ski helmets and goggles are great gifts to help keep kids safe while enjoying the snow as well.

For the “lazy boy”

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There is usually at least one person in the family who is hard to motivate to spend time outdoors. A good backpack can be one gift that even the most infrequent outdoorsman will find useful. Backpacks are universally convenient for helping to store and carry items when out and about and come in a variety of sizes and styles – everything from a simple day pack just right for walks, bike rides and picnics to large utility rucksacks that can be used for camping, snowshoeing and crosscountry skiing.

For the “person who has everything”

w it h somet hing ex t ra specia l t his holiday season. In celebration of its 100th anniversary, L.L.Bean has created a line of special-edition anniversary products such as the limited edition Bamboo Fly Rods. Beautifully crafted and made by hand, they are a fitting tribute to the classic rods used by L.L.Bean 100 years ago. This is very likely to impress the avid enthusiast of the family.

For the person who has already established a love for the outdoors, you can inspire his or her next outdoor adventure

For more gift ideas and additional information on how to get your family outdoors, visit (NAPSI)

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

Great gift ideas for seniors

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Give the lap of luxury.

xchanging gifts has become synonymous with the holiday season. Family members exchange gifts with one another, men and women trade gifts and greeting cards with their coworkers and students participate in grab bag gift exchanges in the classroom. Giving gifts is such a big part of the holiday season that shoppers may run out of gift ideas before they have crossed everyone off their lists. For example, it might not be easy to find the perfect gift for the senior citizen on your holiday shopping list. Seniors might not be up-to-date on the latest gadgets or might have downgraded from a home to a more manageable living arrangement, so knickknacks or decorative items for the home may not be too practical, either. The following are a few tips for gifting seniors this holiday season.

Warm things up. As men and women age, many develop medical conditions that require medication. Medications like blood thinners can make seniors feel the cold more than others, so a gift that can keep seniors warm through the winter can make a great gift. A thick wool sweater or a f leece blanket is both practical and thoughtful.

Open a senior's eyes to e-readers. Many seniors find that maintaining a household is simply too much work once all the kids have grown up and moved out. As a result, many move from private homes into apartment complexes geared to the senior set or even into assisted living facilities that make it easier to deal with the daily demands of life. When seniors make such a move, they sacrifice space for convenience. Personal libraries may no longer be possible or practical, but an e-reader such as Amazon's Kindle or the

Many seniors are on fixed incomes, which greatly limit how much disposable income they have to treat themselves to something nice. But seniors still love a trip to the spa or a round of golf just as much as their younger counterparts. Savvy shoppers know that deals can be had on such luxuries, and it just takes a little patience and research. Sign up for a service like GrouponTM to gain access to exclusive discount offers to a variety of luxury offerings, including spa treatments, cruise vacations and rounds of golf. Signing up is free and easy, and you might just find a deal that makes a senior's holiday season.

Go healthy. Many men and women embrace a healthier lifestyle as they age. Seniors who might have been too busy raising a family to focus on their own health are typically encouraged by their physicians to exercise and embrace healthier eating habits. Gift-givers can help seniors on their quests to become healthier by buying them a membership to a local fitness club, many of which provide classes designed specifically for seniors. Fitness clubs typically offer discounted memberships to seniors, who might even be eligible for rebates from their health insurance providers if they meet established attendance requirements. Seniors who suffer from arthritis might benefit from a membership at a nearby yoga center.

Give the gift of communication. Sometimes the best gift is the simplest gift. Seniors love to speak with their children and grandchildren, so why not give the gift of communication? If you haven’t already, alter your cellular phone plan to a family plan that gives seniors unlimited minutes when calling family members so they can speak to their grandkids as often as possible.





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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, December 14, 2012

HOLIDAY 12-14-12  

Holiday news and information for decorating and gift ideas.

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