Among the stories from Christmases ago

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We note with awe each year the beauty that Lindsborg and
the Smoky Valley bring to Christmas. No village in Kansas
is more lovely at this time of year, its light, its faith, its love
of the arts that express a certain passion.
This past Saturday, for one example, Jim Turner’s photo
studio held the stage for the Dale Camerata trio (cello and
two violins), and from Smoky Valley High School an array
of talented groups, among them the school’s clarinet choir,
chamber orchestra, and brass choir. Music is alive and well
in our schools. Elsewwhere downtown, performances by the
Swedish Folk Dancers.
Later came Lucia, the Festival of Light, and then an Old
Fashioned Christmas at the Old Mill Museum.
Here is the special radiance of Christmas in the Valley, the
lights of neighborhoods, the sparkle and glow in merchants’
windows, the color and texture of the season, its rich history.
For that we recently rummaged through the shelves for
special notes of seasons past in the Valley. Here are a few
from among them:
*
From 2011: How Karen found Maggie
It began with a big mystery box from Las Vegas addressed
to “Maggie Anderson, Claus Inc.,” at the News-Record’s
post office box number.
Uncertainty grew as Kathy George, the advertising director,
hauled the (two cubic feet) box into the office and
placed it on a table.
Who’s Maggie? Claus Inc.? Why here?
Rachel Norland, a proof reader and retired teacher, supposed
that Maggie might be the daughter of Jane Anderson
at Smoky Valley Middle School. It worked. Jane was also
mystified how her daughter’s name came to be on a box sent
to the News-Record. She took it home.
Maggie was thrilled. The box contained dozens of stuffed
animals, a copy of the Aug. 18 edition of Fresh Dirt, the
News-Record’s weekly agriculture report, and the following
note:
“Dear ‘Fresh Dirt,’
“While visiting my Dad in Minnesota I enjoyed reading
the Lindsborg paper! My grandfather, the Rev. Eric
Nathaniel Lindholm, was from there and I think I attended
a family picnic there when I was a small child in the
mid-1950s. One of my Lindholm relatives was LaVaun
Lindholm, and Mrs. Clarabelle Kelly is a relative of my
Dad’s family. Those family ties run deep and I hope to return
some day to see your beautiful town.
“While reading your paper I (learned) about an amazing
young girl who gives away stuffed animals at Christmas
time and I wanted to help. Please thank her for me!! I love
to hear about young people like her!! She will make sure the
world will be a better place in the future. Thank you Maggie
Anderson.
“Blessings on you all,
Karen Lindholm Magnuson
Las Vegas, Nevada”
*
The article in Fresh Dirt, by county extension agent
Kendra Baehler, was one of a series of summer profiles of
4-H club presidents and featured Maggie, 12, an 8th-grader
at Smoky Valley Middle School, as president of the Smoky
Valley 4-H Club. Among her many projects and interests
is a devotion to Claus, Inc., a project to collect “gently
loved” stuffed animals for donation to needy youngsters at
Christmastime.
The reference to Claus, Inc., took all of three lines of
mention in the middle of a long article. Karen Magnuson is
a careful reader – and thoughtful beyond the call. It’s a long
stretch from August to Christmas, more than plenty of time
for inspiration to fade in a busy, demanding world. But not
for Karen Magnuson.
Toys were acquired and fitted snugly into the large box,
packaged with faith that in a small town the post office and
the newspaper would find Maggie. The box and its treasure
were sent out into the teeming swirl of holiday traffic.
Blessings on you all, Karen had said.
We say blessings all around – for Maggie with the big
heart, for the generous and thoughtful Karen, for faith in the
kinship of a small town, and for the youngsters who will be
happier at Christmas because of it all.
*
From 2006: About Lucia
The annual Festival of Light commemorates the martyrdom
of Santa Lucia of Syracuse who, according to legend,
was blinded and killed on Dec. 13, 304 AD for ministering
by candlelight to hiding Christians. The Festival is to illuminate
the darkest time of year in Sweden, and to encourage
acts of charity.
On Saturday in Lindsborg after a morning of activities
downtown, our St. Lucia is crowned in ceremonies at Bethany
Lutheran Church. The Soderstrom Elementary School
Lucia was crowned earlier, with her Star Boy.
Each year, the Lindsborg Swedish Folk Dancers honor
one of their girls to represent Lucia who, in the 4th century,
vowed her dowry to the poor if only God would spare her ailing
mother. Lucia was burned at the stake for this, the fl ames
all around her, transforming her. It is said that, a thousand
years later, Lucia appeared on a lake in Varmland, Sweden,
with food and drink for a province ravaged by famine. Later
canonized by the Church of Sweden, St. Lucia is revered as
a symbol of comfort and light.
In Lindsborg, this tradition involving the Swedish Dancers’
Lucia can be traced more than 40 years, at least to 1963.
After the crowning at Bethany Lutheran Church, Lucia continued
the practice of serving hot cider, tasty breads and
Swedish ginger cookies to her family and guests,with guests
and celebrants enjoying a program of Swedish music heritage.
*
From 2011: Christmas, our season of light
In this season, darkness is a sometimes a more insistent
thing than cold. The days are short as a dream, the sun begins
to lose its strength in the afternoon, and before we know it,
it’s time to knock off and grope our way to the car in the lot.
(But for a street light on the corner, we’d probably stumble
a lot while we were groping.) On mornings, our hand crawls
up the wall, a spider in search of a light switch.
The antidote is Christmastime, a season of light, a time
that brings out the child in us – or, rather, the childhood in
us. Here is that sweet moment when common things are
again uncommon, when our senses are keen with promise
and hope.
The season unrolls, a scroll of blessed events all around.
Wherever we look there is color, the enchantment in a single
star, or the light of a southwestern moon, a scimitar of silver.
Common pots are full of treasure, all lights are beacons,
every sound a chorus.
Miracles come quietly, creeping into the human heart
without the herald of trumpets until we are filled with their
wonder and glory; the most miraculous of miracles are often
those at our own fireside, or just outside the door, in the next
room, or across the table.
Wherever we look we see something that advertises
the future or embraces the past. The view from the living
room, or the office, is the same as it has been for years but
at this time of year, it can be shatteringly beautiful, as in a
new appreciation of life, of the world around us. Christmas
brings thoughts of a new affirmation in living, and of all that
living can bring.
*
An error, corrected (2006)
The Editor goofed in hacking away at a fi ne story about
St. Lucia. He had changed a correct reference, Sankta Lucia,
to the incorrect Santa Lucia. We offered apologies, and the
last two paragraphs of the corrected story – this time with a
version of the Lucia hymn in Swedish:
“Known in Sweden as “Sankta Lucia”, she has become a
beautiful messenger, bringing goodness and lighting the way
through the holiday season.
“…atten går tunga fjät rund gård och stuva; kring jord, som
sol förlät, skuggoma ruva. Då i vårt mörka hus, stiger med
tända Uus, Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.
“Natten går stor och stum nu hörs dess vingar i alla tysta
rum sus som av vingar. Se, på vår tröskel står vitklädd med
ljus i hår Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.Mörkret ska fl yta snart
urjordens dalar så hon ett underbart ord till oss talar. Dagen
ska åter ny stiga ur rosig sky. Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.”
– JOHN MARSHALL

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