Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone and about all we really know about it comes from
commercial sources. Through the constant drumming of the media we are basically told all we
need to know about Thanksgiving, when to start, when to stop and, by the way, ‘don’t forget
those great deals on Black Friday’ because, well, Christmas is just around the corner and after
all, America’s economy depends on commercialism. Their point is, It’s okay to go into debt but
don’t eat the Romaine lettuce. Is it who we really are? Apparently!
But this year I sense a distinct change in the atmosphere. I’ve heard more detailed explanations
of the real Pilgrims story at Plymouth, Mass. in attempts to correct the re-written history some
elements in our society want us to accept. I feel a perceptible shifting of moral values going on
and I sense a not so subtle shift back to religious faith especially as the destructive tenants of
Islam are flooding our country. The leadership of our churches, long beaten into compliance to
accept the dictates of a secular society, must return to their mission of spreading the gospel and
abandon the demand that we must accept the perverted deviancy of 1% of our population that
demands acceptance, without consequence.
What Americans know about Christmas is mostly suggested to us by the years of Macy’s Day
parades, Hollywood movies and Coca-Cola. TV quickly changed our values. Decades ago,
Coca-Cola embraced Clement Moore’s poem, A Christmas Carol, “Twas the Night Before
Christmas” and lo, we now have an indisputably accepted short, fat, happy ol’ elf who enters
homes down chimney pipes, never gets dirty and enjoys their product while winking at us.
When I was a little boy, a world war was underway yet the traditions of Christmas, and even
then they were commercial, were anticipated and observed. We decorated Christmas trees, had
special seasonal attractions and attended Church programs singing hymns while we little
children read or recited memorized snippets of scripture to the audience. I recall my surprise
upon learning that even Germans soldiers observed Christmas, indeed was responsible for
introducing the Christmas tree as a tradition. And, they sang “Silent Night.” What a revelation.
Among the big traditions were Christmas cards. My mother saved Christmas cards for years
and she gave them out in profuse qualities herself. Those that came to me, mostly from mothers
friends and sisters, were scenes depicted as cartoons. Family cards were actually incredible
works of art depicting scenes of happy home fires or snow, doubtless of a Victorian England, the
country where greeting cards and Santa Clause were introduced as a tradition.
Until Coca Cola’s depiction, St. Nick was tall and skinny, a poor emaciated figure, hungry
looking with a limp bag hanging over his shoulder. None of that has changed except Santa’s
size, but I am sensing once again, with Christmas day still weeks away, a change in the public
attitude, a realization that a prosperous America is returning even with all its social problems of
drug addictions, homelessness and hunger. I feel a sincere longing to return to our old traditions
where good cheer and happiness are not feigned but heartfelt; where charity is freely given
without conditions and people actually enjoy helping other people.
But, we must be careful and not allow the Left to peculate our good thing and introduce social
changes we know to be destructive to a free peoples. Government in the hands of Progressives,
will sweep all that away and the once shining city on the hill idea, as Ronald Reagan coined it,
will be but a footnote in history. We must strive to preserve all of our God given liberties.
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (29Nov18)
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
In my opinion, there is nothing like a fresh Christmas tree in the home. Artificial trees look more
natural now than when I was growing up, but they are not the same. Choosing a fresh tree
should be a fun family affair, but you also want to get the best value for your money.
So let’s start with how to select a fresh tree. First, determine where in your home you will
display your tree so that you will be able to tell what size and shape you need. Next, if possible,
cut the tree yourself. This will provide the best opportunity to have a fresh tree throughout the
Christmas season, but you still need to care for it like you would any other “live” tree. If you are
choosing a pre-cut tree, you need to do a freshness test on it before you bring it home so hold a
branch about 6 inches from the tip then pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip
through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
Here’s another freshness test: lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down
abruptly on the stump end. If the tree is fresh, outside green needles should not fall off in
substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.
Now let’s look at how to care for a fresh tree. The most important thing to remember has to do
with water. These trees need water daily, just like a fresh bouquet of flowers. You’ll want to
remember to keep plenty of water in the stand at all times. If you are choosing a stand, be sure
and choose one that has a big water storage area. A Christmas tree may absorb a gallon of water
in the first 24 hours it’s up and between two pints to a gallon of water a day thereafter. Check
the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed. If the water supply runs out, a seal will form
on the cut surface of the tree trunk and the tree will not absorb water and dry out. If the water
runs out, a new cut should be made.
When a tree is first cut, a seal of sap occurs naturally over its stump which keeps moisture in the
tree. It’s important to break that seal to allow the tree to take up water needed to keep it fresh
throughout the holidays. Once you’ve selected your tree and you have it at home, make a fresh
cut across the base of the trunk, ¼ inch up from the original cut. Put it in a bucket of water and
protected from the sun and wind until you get ready to move it indoors. If you are selecting a
balled and burlap tree, first make sure that the tree will grow in our area and second do not let the
root ball dry out as the tree will not survive when planted outside.
When you do bring the tree indoors, position it away from heat sources such as fireplaces,
radiators, heat vents, and television sets. When it’s time to put the lights on and trim the tree,
first test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are
in good working condition, without cracked insulation or broken sockets, and make sure all the
sockets are filled. Once you get the lights on, then it’s time to finish trimming and enjoy, but
don’t forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave home. Never leave a tree with the
lights on unattended!
For more information, contact me at the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It is also one of the most giving times as well. People open their hearts and their wallets to help worthy causes and most are legit. When making a decision on which charity to donate to, most people consider the “efficiency” of the organization. What percentage of the monies received by the charity goes to funding its mission verses other costs such as fundraising activities, salaries, and other overhead. When giving to a non-profit you can always check its financials, which are required by law to be available, see below:
Tax-exempt organizations must make annual returns and exemption applications filed with the IRS available for public inspection and copying upon request. In addition, the IRS makes these documents available. The questions below relate to the public disclosure and availability of documents filed by tax-exempt organizations with the IRS.
There are several ways you can check out the charity but the most direct way is to ask for a copy of its financials so you can determine if your money is actually being used in the way you believe when you give. There are sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar which are very helpful in showing you what percentage of your giving goes to support the mission, as opposed to administrative expenses. Some nonprofits have a large overhead, but according to the charity ratings site, if they are spending more than 33.3% of their total budget on overhead, the organization is not meeting its mission. However if your “cause” or “local charity” is not listed we suggest you request the disclosure from your choice of giving and make sure your money is helping the cause you desire.
FYN will be taking a look at some of our local charities and letting you know what we find. Giving is great but it is always a good idea to make sure of how the money is actually being used.