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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Country Cousin

Issue Date: November 29, 2018

Advent is here!

Deer Season has come and gone. Some of us are dining on venison. Thanksgiving has come and gone. Some of us are still enjoying turkey leftovers.

The Christmas season officially starts with the first day of Advent - this year on Sunday, Dec. 2, but lots of folks have been getting a head start. Merchants had their biggest Christmas sale event of the year on "Black Friday," Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. Many communities already have held their Christmas celebrations, and more are scheduled in the coming few weeks. Christmas lights are shining everywhere, more of them each day.

Hanukkah, the biggest Jewish holiday of the year, begins at sundown on Sunday, Dec. 2 and lasts until sundown on Friday, Dec. 9. Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people's successful rebellion against the Greeks in the Maccabean War in 162 BC. A ritual cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple occurred after the victory. It is believed that there was only enough consecrated oil to keep the lamp burning for one day but the small bottle of oil miraculously lasted for eight days. For that reason, Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) is referred as the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights..

The first day of Hanukkah is the start of a celebratory period in which a four-sided toy called dreidel is used for games. The first night of Hanukkah is also a night when people sing traditional songs to celebrate Hanukkah. Gift-giving is also popular at this time of the year.

MAKE A GIFT DAY

Dec. 3 was recently designated as "Make A Gift" Day. Great excuse to get the kids going on gift making projects to get them less in the getting mode and thinking more about what they can give.

Speaking of what you can give, you might want to get some red gift wrap. In China, gifts wrapped in red paper are considered to bring luck to the recipient.

ADVENT WREATHS

The Advent wreath is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, both as a decoration and as a weekly reminder for the reason for Christmas. Generally the Advent wreath has four red candles around the outside, one to be lighted each Sunday of Advent, and a white candle in the center, representing the Christ Child, to be lighted on Christmas Eve. Advent wreaths with white candles around the outside of an evergreen wreath with a purple candle in the center is also very significant, as the purple candle represents the royal Son of God. As a whole, the candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world.

ADVENT CALENDARS

Advent calendars of all designs are also given as gifts at this time of the year, and make really good gifts for St. Nicholas Day, on Dec. 6. The calendars feature openings in the form of windows or doors that are numbered to count the days to Christmas. Calendars may contain chocolates, toys, or candy and are given to children as a fun way to observe the Christmas countdown. Some traditional Advent calendars show 24 days but many Advent calendars showing 25 days, with the last opening on Christmas Day. If they're given on Dec. 6, let them open the first six doors right away, and then open the rest one at a time on each day until Christmas.

In many countries, St. Nicholas Day is the big day for getting and giving gifts, while Christmas itself is more of a serious religious holiday. Don't know how it is today, but St. Nicholas Day was a really big event in Appleton when we lived there many years ago.

DEER TALES

Heard about a group of hunters at deer camp who paired off in twos for the day. That night, after everyone else was back empty handed, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck.

The others were surprised and asked him, "Where's Joe?"

"Joe fell and broke his leg. He's a couple of miles back up the trail," the successful hunter replied.

His friends were shocked. ""You left Joe laying out there and carried the deer back?" they exclaimed.

The hunter nodded. "It was a tough call, but I figured no one is going to steal Joe!"

Then there was a hunter who didn't quite make it into the woods. On the way home he stopped by the butcher shop and asked for a couple of steaks and two roasts.

"Sorry, it's been a busy, busy day,' the butcher said. "We're out of beef, but we have some chickens and hot dogs left."

"Hot dogs and chicken?" exclaims the hunter. "How can I tell my wife I bagged a couple of hot dogs and chickens?"

Then there's the true story of a Milwaukee fellow who shot a dresser while he was oiling his gun in the downstairs living room in preparation for deer camp quite a few years ago. He hasn't lived it down yet.

He was careless. And lucky. Didn't have the safety on, and had left a shell in place.

"Boom!" went the gun.

Bullet went right through the ceiling, and into the dresser in a bedroom upstairs. No one was hurt.

Well, he went on up to deer camp next day, and had no luck at all.

But when he got home, there hanging from a tree in his side yard, for all the world to see, was the trophy he had shot. Friends had attached a magnificent set of antlers to the damaged dresser and put it on display.

SPECIAL EVENTS

Stephenson Public Library in Marinette is holding its annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. This year's theme is "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," by Dr. Seuss. Santa will take gift requests from children, the Friends of the Library will serve hot cocoa and cookies, dancers from the First Street Academy of Dance will perform, and everyone will get to make a Whooville craft to take home. This is a free, family-friendly event.

COLEMAN CHRISTMAS

On Tuesday, Dec. 4 Faith Christian School in Coleman will have a drive-through/walk-through living Nativity scene from 4 to 6 p.m., complete with live animals. At the same time Cougar Shell will host Santa and his reindeer, and judging will be done for the village lighting contest, for which the winner will get a gift card.

LIGHT THE BEECHER TREE

Plans are underway for the Town of Beecher's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Nada Surface said the public is invited to attend, as this is a town event. She said so far attempts to get a commitment from Santa or a suitable substitute have been unsuccessful. She said the Boy Scouts will sell cocoa and cookies and there will be crafts available for purchase.

WAUSAUKEE LIGHTS

Trustees Ray Gordon and Pat Tracy and Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Pullen will be out judging Christmas decorations in the Village of Wausaukee on Thursday, Dec. 13.

Two randomly selected winners will receive $25 each in the "Wausaukee Lights for Christmas" drawing. And the village should be well decorated for Christmas this year. Thanks to an application prepared by Ruth Jicha, the Village received a $250 grant from Thrivent to purchase Christmas lights for residents. One free set of lights will be given to each property owner. Anyone who hasn't received their set of lights can pick it up at the Village Hall.

REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR

Not everything in December is about Christmas. On Friday, Dec. 7, we should fly flags at half mast in remembrance of those who died in the Japanese surprise attack that prompted America to enter World War II. The Sunday morning attack on December 7, 1941 on the American Army and Navy base in Pearl Harbor caused the deaths of more than 2,000 Americans and injuries to 1,000 more.

America lost a large portion of its battle ships and nearly 200 aircraft that were stationed in the Pacific region.

The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt in a speech to Congress stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was "a date which will live in infamy". Shortly afterwards, Germany also declared war on the United States. In the months that followed the attack, the slogan "Remember Pearl Harbor" swept the United States and radio stations repeatedly played a song of the same name throughout the World War II years.

ON THE SOAP BOX

NO REASON FOR THE SEASON


With all the community excitement over Christmas events, sadly, most schools have none, at least not real ones.They may have giving trees, and visits from Santa, but there's no reason for the season. Mention of God and Jesus is prohibited in most of our public schools.

Schools have Winter Break now, not Christmas vacation, winter concerts, but not Christmas concerts. Seasonal songs about White Christmas and Santa and reindeer are okay, but not "Silent Night," "Little Town of Bethlehem" or "O Come All Ye Faithful." Kids who attend public school and do not also go to Sunday School or Catechism never get a chance to learn the beauties of those songs, understand the reason for the season, or absorb our precious national heritage.

Those who profess to not believe in God, who claim Jesus is just a beautiful myth, should be willing to let kids learn about Him and what he represents, even if only from a cultural and historical standpoint, like they learn about Zeus and Thor.

There is no way anyone can ignore God and understand what America is all about!

It's sad! One of the major responsibilities of school boards is ensuring that the schools they oversee preserve and protect the values of their community. Communities in Marinette County are very strongly Christian, but most of the school boards have abdicated their responsibility to protect and preserve community values and instead have caved to dictates from the DPI in Madison. And now Tony Earl, the man in charge when those dictates were issued, has been elected Governor!

DON'T SMASH THE SQUASH

Just learned a great new trick for preparing hard winter squash like acorn, Hubbard and others.

Have always struggled to get a knife into the things so I could cut them up and get the seeds out before putting them in the oven.

Now little sister has shown me how to do it the easy way. Simply wash the squash, then put it in the microwave on high for one minute. Take it out and poke a few holes in it, and put it back in for another three minutes or so.

Voila! Just like that you can slice that squash in half easily to scoop out the seeds, and if you want to slice it for baking, yo can do that too.

COOKIN' TIME

SLO COOKER STROGANOF


1/4 cup butter

2 pounds boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 3x1/2x1/4-inch strips

1cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

can (10.5 ounces) condensed golden mushroom or cream of mushroom soup

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed (from 8-ounce package)

8 ounces sour cream

6 cups hot cooked noodles

2 tablespoons butter

Chopped parsley for garnish

In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add beef strips, onion and garlic; cook 7 to 9 minutes or until beef is browned. In 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker, mix beef mixture, soup, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cover; cook on low heat setting 5 to 6 hours or until beef is tender. When it's almost dinner time, cook noodles as package directs. Drain noodles and toss with the final two tablespoons butter. Stir cream cheese into the beef mixture until melted, then stir in sour cream until everything is well blended. Serve meat and sauce over the noodles, and sprinkle on chopped parsley for added flavor and a bit of color.

DRUNKEN CRANBERRY RELISH

This relish is good made a week or so ahead, so it takes the some of the stress away from preparing a holiday meal. On the other hand, it is very easy to make and goes well with rich dishes like the Beef Stroganoff recipe above, so why save it just for holiday meals?

12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced 

1 cup sugar 

1/2 cup Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier orange liqueur

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 

Grated zest of 1 lemon 

Grated zest of 1 orange

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, apple, sugar, Cointreau, 1/2 cup water, the cinnamon, and cloves, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the grated zests, and chill.

TOFFEE ICEBOX COOKIES

Mix up a few batches of these now, then freeze to have freshly baked cookies any time you want, all through the Holiday season.

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

2-1/2 cups flour

1 cup Heath Toffee bits

Cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Stir in flour, mixing until fully incorporated. If dough seems too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together. Fold in the toffee bits. Divide dough in half and place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a log about 6 inches long and an inch and a half in diameter. Wrap each log with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough rolls for at least one to two hours or until nice and firm. If you don't want to bake the cookies right away, keep the wrapped cookie logs for a week or so in the fridge or wrap again and freeze until it's time to bake. Thaw before cooking time, but keep chilled. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove plastic wrap and cut rolls into inch slices. Place slices about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

The Country Cousin

Thought for the week:In this season of Advent, let us give some thought to the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as quoted in Luke 1:46-55

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is His Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of His arm,

He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich He has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of His servant Israel

for He remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise He made to our fathers,

to Abraham and His children forever."

The feast day celebrating Mary's Immaculate Conception is Saturday, Dec. 8.



(This column is written by Shirley Prudhomme of Crivitz. Views expressed are her own and are in no way intended to be an official statement of the opinions of Peshtigo Times editors and publishers. She may be contacted by phone at 715-291-9002 or by e-mail to shirleyprudhommechickadee@yahoo.com.)


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