Saturday, December 7, 2019

‘Evergleam’ Christmas trees enjoy 60 years of holiday cheer

Silver trees and color wheels: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas from 1959. Happy 60th anniversary to the “Evergleam” brand of artificial Christmas trees. It was quite the rage.

The tradition lives on in Manitowoc, Wis., on the shores of Lake Michigan, once the home of the Aluminum Specialty Company, which manufactured the artificial, aluminum trees. During the Christmas season, the town is “busier than Santa’s Toyland.”

Patti Zarling of the Manitowoc Herald Times said: “Evergleam Christmas trees coming down the factory conveyor belt” once filled every spare warehouse that the Aluminum Specialty Company could find.

“We were selling up to a million trees a year for a while,” recalled Jerry Waak, former head of sales for the company. American Specialty sold more than 70% of the shiny trees in the 1960s. “It’s amazing how the whole thing took off,” he said.

Sarah Archer, an author based in Philadelphia, Pa., said that in the 1950s, “aluminum’s abundance was really a byproduct of the World War II effort.” Traditionalists who favored green trees called aluminum Christmas trees “tin Tannenbaums.”

Waak said the company selected the name “Evergleam” instead, capitalizing on technology to produce the trees at a reasonable cost at a time when people were looking for something new. It was a gamble that turned into a wild success.

Jack Levitan writes for the Eichler Network in San Francisco, which seeks to preserve the Californian “mid-century modern” style of architecture. Many of those home owners embraced Evergleams.

Bill Yaryan of San Fernando, Calif., thought about sitting on the floor and watching “the silver tree rotate on its stand while the color wheel revolved as well, in a kind of crazy dance. When the color wheel and tree were rotating, the effect was so wonderful and so totally artificial.”

“The tree and ornaments would change in unison” – a panorama blending from red to green to yellow to blue – “as the tree and wheel spun endlessly. It was completely unhinged from any other Christmas decorations in use then. Its space-age novelty was great.”

Gary Gand, a professional musician in Palm Springs, Calif., likens his personal Evergleam to an “aluminum pylon calling out into space and changing different colors. It’s like a seven-foot-tall lava lamp.” (That, my friends, is dagnabbitly cool.)

Levitan also interviewed Scot Nichols of San Jose, Calif., who noted the aluminum trees don’t shed their needles. “All the kitsch but no sticky pitch. There’s no mess involved. Christmas goes up – and Christmas goes down and into a box, and it’s gone. It’s pretty easy.”

Waak said the company would crinkle, split and curl each Evergleam needle, forming “what we called a pom-pom. That was the biggest hit. You got a reflection of every needle because of the crimping, so you had the maximum amount of light being reflected. There was a real brilliance to it.”

Downtown Manitowoc businesses “aluminize” their display windows with 60 or more vintage trees each holiday season to pay tribute to their hometown product with an amazing display called “Evergleams on Eighth,” a reference to the main north-south street that crosses the Manitowoc River. The trees will be exhibited from Nov. 18-Jan. 5.

Closer to home, in Brevard, N.C., the Transylvania (County) Heritage Museum is once again featuring the collection of aluminum trees that belongs to Stephen Jackson, owner of a custom home design and construction business in Brevard.

It all started as a joke in 1991, when a friend “gifted” Jackson a “tattered aluminum Christmas tree pilfered from a garbage heap.” Remembering the silver tree in his childhood home, Jackson threw a party and invited his guests to bring the “most aesthetically challenged” ornaments they could find.

That was the beginning of the Aluminum Tree & Ornament Museum (ATOM). Jackson was given a second tree in 1998, “unearthed at a yard sale.” Over the years, the project “snowballed as friends nabbed more trees from flea markets and dusty attics.”

The 2019 ATOM exhibit at the Transylvania Heritage Museum continues on days the main museum is open – Wednesday-Saturday (except on Thanksgiving), through Dec. 21. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.

A visit is recommended as a “whimsical and wacky adventure…a fun, quirky holiday outing that will make you smile and brighten your day,” according to, an independent travel guide. Brevard is located about 35 miles south of Asheville.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Model railroad buffs come out chugging

Saturday, Dec. 7, is National Lionel Train Day. The model train whistles will be blowing at the headquarters of Lionel, LLC, located in Concord, N.C. The public is invited to celebrate at the Lionel retail store at Concord Mills, a giant shopping mall in Cabarrus County.

“In addition to selling everything a family needs to build its own model train layout, the 5,000-square-foot retail space houses an interactive 8-foot-by-24-foot Lionel train display as well as play space for ‘young conductors,’” said Howard Hitchcock, who became Lionel’s president in 2014.

With the Christmas season just around the bend, the timing of the train day observance conveniently coincides with the chug-chug countdown to Dec. 25.

Lionel’s emergence as a retailer is part of Hitchcock’s strategy to reinvigorate the venerable brand. Joshua Lionel Cowen of Queens in New York City built his first electric train in 1901 and sold it to a store owner in Manhattan, who used the train to call attention to his merchandise.

The store owner contacted Cowen the very next day to order a dozen more trains, because customers wanted to buy the store display. By 1902, the Lionel Manufacturing Company was picking up steam as a maker of toy train sets.

“Not that many organizations get to be this age – 117 years old,” Hitchcock told Adam Grybowski, communications director at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. (Hitchcock is a Rider alumnus.)

Lionel is a nostalgic, classic brand, Hitchcock said. Going forward, he says the challenge is to “integrate our products into the digital world occupying so much attention today, especially among young people, and continue to be a part of how families make memories.”

Grybowski wrote that “America’s fascination with trains, which budded in the 19th century as tracks were laid coast to coast, has ebbed and flowed since then, but trains continue to be a source of interest for hobbyists.”

Hitchcock says: “Trains almost feel like something lost in the past, but there’s a huge resurgence to bring them back, and they’re still very relevant today.”

One of the favorite Little Golden Books of all-time is Donald Duck’s Toy Train, published in 1950, with its bright yellow cover. F. J. Potter was a fan. “I am told that I had to have it read to me every night.” he said. The story is about Donald Duck’s train that he rides around in his backyard.

He discovers that Chip and Dale, two chipmunks, “borrowed the train”…and dagnabbit all…drove it into the village of Canyonville. They hopped off and move into one of the homes there that is “just the right size.” And they all lived happily ever after.

The 1950s were the golden years for model trains. Not only was Lionel the largest American toy train manufacturer, it was for a short time the largest toy manufacturer in the world. For a time, American Flyer was a formidable competitor, as a product of the A. C. Gilbert Company of New Haven, Conn. Lionel bought the American Flyer brand name in 1967.

That was the same year that Roger Miller, a folk singer-songwriter released a Christmas song titled “Old Toy Trains.”

Old toy trains, little toy tracks,
Little boy toys, comin’ from a sack
Carried by a man dressed in white and red.
Little boy, don’t you think it’s time you were in bed?

Model railroaders know that all train tracks lead to the village of Strasburg, in Lancaster County, Pa., home of the National Toy Train Museum and headquarters for the Train Collectors Association.

The Strasburg Rail Road is the oldest continuously operating railroad in the western hemisphere and the oldest public utility in Pennsylvania, chartered in 1832. Today, the Strasburg is a heritage railroad offering excursion trains hauled by steam locomotives on 4.5 miles of track in Pennsylvania Dutch country.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, houses a collection of more than 100 historic locomotives and railroad cars that chronicle American railroad history.

Strasburg’s claim to be “Traintown U.S.A.” is further enhanced by The Choo Choo Barn, a 1,700-square-foot train display that features more than 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles…and 22 operating trains.

Commenting on the barn, Anita L. of Ewing, N.J., told TripAdvisor: “Our family loves trains and this display does not disappoint. It really can be mesmerizing. This display is well taken care of and certainly worth every penny for the visit.”

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Native Americans taught survival skills to Pilgrims

Pilgrims who established the New Plymouth colony in present-day Massachusetts in 1620 believed God sent Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag people to provide a lifeline that enabled the European emigrants to survive and sustain their existence in the New World.

“Our name, Wampanoag, means ‘People of the First Light,’” explained Nancy Eldredge of Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Mass.

In the 1600s, the Wampanoag (WOMP uh NO ag) nation consisted of an array of affiliated tribes, representing nearly 40,000 people in 67 villages, who inhabited what is now the heart of New England, Eldredge said.

The Pilgrims had sailed from Plymouth, England, on Sept. 6, 1620, with 102 passengers crowded aboard a sailing ship known as the Mayflower.

Known as “Separatists,” they were members of a sect that no longer accepted the Church of England. They were seeking religious freedom.

The Mayflower anchored off the Massachusetts coast about Nov. 11. Scouting teams spent another month going ashore to collect firewood and to select a good place to build a settlement. Bad weather prevented the Pilgrims from landing at Plymouth Rock until Dec.18 or thereabouts.

“The Pilgrims were ill equipped to survive,” Eldredge said. “They did not bring enough food. In the first several months, many died from poor nutrition and lack of adequate shelter.”

Historian Caleb Johnson wrote: “The Pilgrims actually lived out of the Mayflower and ferried back and forth to land to build their storehouses and living houses. They labored all through the winter months of December, January and February, and didn’t start moving entirely to shore until March.”

Dagnabbit, wouldn’t you know, Samoset just happened to be in the right place at the right time. He was visiting Chief Massasoit. Samoset, of the Abenaki tribe in Maine, had learned a few English words from the English fishermen who fished the waters off Monhegan Island in the Gulf of Maine.

On March 16, 1621, Samoset walked right into the Pilgrim colony, approached the white men, saluted them and announced, “Welcome! Welcome, Englishmen!”

The encounter was described in Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, compiled by Alexander Young and published in 1841. According to Young, Samoset “asked for some beer, but we gave him strong water, and biscuit, and butter, and cheese, and pudding, and a piece of mallard; all which he liked well.”

Samoset informed the colonists that he would introduce them to Tisquantum (also known as Squanto), who could speak better English than he.

Tisquantum was a Patuxet, a branch of the Wampanoag tribal confederation. He was serving as special emissary to Chief Massasoit. Tisquantum had learned English while living in London, England, after being rescued from captivity as a slave in Málaga, Spain.

Ramona Peters of the Wampanoag confederation said Chief Massasoit “is a significant figure in our shared history. He stands at the crossroad between the indigenous people of this land and the origins of what would eventually become the United States of America.”

“Massasoit had a vision of how we could all live together,” she said. “There were 50 years of peace between the English and Wampanoag until he died in 1665.”

Squanto devoted himself to helping the Pilgrims. “With kindness and patience, he taught the English the skills they needed to survive, including how best to cultivate varieties of the ‘three sisters: beans, maize and squash,’” Peters commented.

Catherine Boeckman of The Old Farmer’s Almanac said: “Native Americans always inter-planted this trio of seeds because they thrive together, much like three inseparable sisters.”

“In legend, the plants were a gift from the gods, always to be grown together, eaten together and celebrated together. Each of the sisters contributes something to a single planting. As older sisters often do, the corn (or maize) offers the beans needed support,” Boeckman said.

“The beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three. As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, they hold the sisters close together.”

“The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome by creating living mulch that shades the soil, keeping it cool and moist and preventing weeds. The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons, which don’t like to step on them,” Boeckman said.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Thanksgiving holiday traced back to ‘inexorable’ women

Priscilla Mullins Alden and Sarah Josepha Buell Hale wrote separate but highly important chapters in America’s Thanksgiving history books, according to Peggy M. Baker, Director & Librarian of the Pilgrim Society & Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Mass.

Baker said Alden and Hale both qualify as “inexorable” New England women – defined as being “unbending, obdurate, determined, unshakeable and relentless” in their pursuits to survive and to change the world.

Priscilla Mullins was 18 when she accompanied her parents, William and Alice Mullins, from Dorking, Surrey, England, to journey across the Atlantic Ocean in 1620 in search of a new life in the New World. A younger brother, Joseph, 15, was also onboard.

Unfortunately, Priscilla was the only member of the Mullins family to survive the first frigid winter at the New Plymouth colony. She had become acquainted with bachelor John Alden, 21, who was a member of the Mayflower crew.

Alden had signed on with the Mayflower to be the ship’s cooper, or barrel maker. After his contract was up, he chose to remain with the Pilgrims at the new colony instead of returning to England. John Alden and Priscilla Mullins became sweethearts and were married in 1622 or 1623.

The fantasy associated with their relationship – “the Mayflower love story” – was fueled years later by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem of 1858, which focused on the courtship that Myles Standish “intended to have with the fair Mullins maiden.”

Standish, an officer in the Queen’s Army, had been hired in 1620 to accompany the Pilgrims from England and be the colonists’ military commander. His wife, Rose, sailed with him on the Mayflower, but she, too, perished during that first brutally cold winter.

Longfellow painted the picture: Now, as a widower, Standish set his sights on Priscilla Mullins. However, Standish was considerably older than she. He was, apparently, too shy and uncomfortable to express his affection toward her. So, Standish employed John Alden to speak on his behalf. And then…Priscilla asked (dagnabbitly, of course): “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” Cupid shot his arrow.

Myles Standish recovered from the rejection, and he did remarry fairly quickly. His second wife, Barbara, believed to be a sister or cousin of Rose’s, arrived at the new colony on the ship Anne in 1623. Myles and Barbara Standish had nine children. John and Priscilla Alden gave birth to 10.

Although Sarah Buell Hale was not among the first colonists, she is considered to be the “Godmother of Thanksgiving.”  

Sarah Buell was born in Newport, N.H., in 1788, and she was “home-schooled,” because women’s educational opportunities at that time were “slim to none.” Sarah married attorney David Hale in 1813. He died unexpectedly from pneumonia in 1822, while she was pregnant with the couple’s fifth child. Sarah Hale launched a literary career as a poet and writer in order to generate income to support her family.

In her first novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, published in 1827, Hale introduced the American public to what would become one of her lifelong obsessions: the promotion of the holiday of Thanksgiving.

Hale wrote: “Our good ancestors were wise…they chose for the celebration of our annual festival, the Thanksgiving” to occur in “the funeral-faced month of November…and make it wear a garland of joy.”

Northwood caught the attention of Rev. John Lauris Blake, a Congregationalist minister. He recruited Hale in 1928 to become the editor of his new magazine for women in Boston called Ladies’ Magazine. She went on to become the most prominent and influential magazine editor of the 19th century, retiring in 1877 at age 89.

Hale began campaigning to have Thanksgiving designated as a national holiday in 1846. In Hale’s letter to President Lincoln, dated Sept. 28, 1863, she suggested that Thanksgiving, as a “new holiday, would unify the bitterly divided country.” He responded within days, issuing a proclamation on Oct. 3, 1863, that expressed his total agreement.

Lincoln wrote that Thanksgiving should be “solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November…as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Don’t forget America’s four-legged ‘military vets’

Give a Veterans Day salute on Nov. 11 to all who served, including “war dogs” like Sgt. Stubby. He wasn’t the first military canine, but he is a legendary hero in American military history.

Stubby earned his stripes in World War I. His story has been documented by the National Museum of American History at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Stubby, a brindle and white mixed-breed terrier, became the most decorated working dog of WW I.

“While training for combat on the fields of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in 1917, Army Pvt. J. Robert Conroy found a stray puppy with a short tail. Pvt. Conroy named the dog ‘Stubby.’”

The dog learned to respond to the bugle calls, how to march and how to salute – placing his right paw on his right eyebrow. “Stubby had a positive effect on morale. When the division shipped out for France, Pvt. Conroy smuggled Stubby aboard…hidden in the coal bin,” the Smithsonian archivist reported. “Stubby became the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry, reaching the front lines on Feb. 5, 1918.”

“Stubby soon became accustomed to the loud rifles and heavy artillery fire. His first battle injury occurred from gas exposure; he was taken to a nearby field hospital and nursed back to health. The injury left him sensitive to the tiniest trace of gas. When the division was attacked in an early morning gas launch, most of the troops were asleep. Stubby recognized the gas and ran through the trench barking and biting at the soldiers, rousing them to sound the gas alarm, saving many from injury.”

Rachel Dinning of HistoryExtra, a website based in London, England, said Stubby’s “sharp ears and ability to hear the whine of artillery shells before they landed were extremely useful. He was present for four offensives and 17 battles in total.”

“One of Stubby’s greatest achievements occurred late one night on the Western Front.” Details were shared in Stubby’s lengthy obituary in the New York Times on April 4, 1926.’”

“Hearing a sound in the stillness of the night, the dog, who guarded sleeplessly, stole out of the trenches and recognized – a German. Attempts by the German to deceive the dog were futile. Seizing his prisoner by the breeches, Stubby held on until help arrived.”

“For his efforts that night, Stubby was issued the Iron Cross medal that the German spy had been wearing.” U.S. Gen. John Joseph Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front, reportedly promoted Stubby to the rank of sergeant, for his varied valorous actions.

The dog’s famous embroidered chamois vest was a gift from the French women of Château-Thierry, who were thankful for Stubby’s assistance during the liberation of their city.

Following the war, Stubby returned home to America with his adopted master, who had also been advanced in rank…to corporal. J. Robert Conroy enrolled in law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and Stubby accepted the position as the official sports mascot.

Sgt. Stubby basked in the war hero’s spotlight, feted by several U.S. presidents and awarded lifetime membership in the American Red Cross and the American Legion. The ultimate, dagnabbit recognition, however, came from the YMCA, which promised him “three bones a day.”

Stubby was 10 years old when he died in Conroy’s arms in 1926. Stubby’s body was prepared by a taxidermist and adorned with his vest of many medals. Today, Sgt. Stubby is the centerpiece of The Smithsonian exhibit titled “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.”

Conroy went on to earn his law degree, and he had an illustrious career working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He died in New Britain, Conn., in 1987, at age 95.

His descendants were responsible for the erection and dedication in 2018 of a bronze statue named “Stubby Salutes” in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Middletown, Conn., located about midway between New Haven and Hartford.

The sculptor is Susan Bahary of Sausalito, Calif., who has work on view around the world. Stubby is depicted in his uniform vest “standing at attention with right paw raised in salute and left paw extended in friendship.”

Bahary said that Sgt. Stubby’s “contributions to our military, along with his loyalty and bravery, are symbolic of all the wonderful working dogs that protect us and service animals that benefit and enrich our lives today.”

Monday, November 4, 2019

Thanksgiving means ‘5 kernels of corn’

Do you associate the names Oceanus Hopkins, Peregrine White and Hezekiah Butterworth with the observance of Thanksgiving? Indeed, each name has significance in early American history…and the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Oceanus, Peregrine and Hezekiah are rather distinctive first names, wouldn’t you agree?

Thanksgiving Day 2019 is Nov. 28, and it marks the start of the official countdown to the 400th anniversary observance to celebrate the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock in present-day Massachusetts in 1620.

In advance, it would behoove us all to brush up on the legends and lore associated with Oceanus, Peregrine and Hezekiah.

Oceanus Hopkins was on the Mayflower during its voyage from Plymouth in Devon on the southwest coast of England to the New World. The ship left port on Sept. 6, 1620, and the birth occurred Sept. 20. Parents Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins chose to name their baby boy Oceanus, which is the Latin word for ocean. Sadly, the young colonist died at New Plymouth at age 6.

Peregrine White was also born aboard the Mayflower. His birthdate of Nov. 20, 1620, was just a few days after the vessel had arrived in America and was anchored off Cape Cod Hook, now called Provincetown Harbor. His parents, William and Susanna White, named their newborn child Peregrine, derived from a Latin word that means “a traveler coming from abroad.”

Peregrine White was fortunate to live a full life, contributing to the civic, military and religious interests of New Plymouth, helping the colony to survive and grow. He died in 1704 at age 83.

Hezekiah Butterworth was not one of the original New Plymouth colonists, but he did exhaustive research on the writings of Gov. William Bradford, who was the chosen leader of the new colony. Butterworth wrote a poem in 1898 titled “Five Kernels of Corn.” It tells the story of the first Thanksgiving observed in 1621.

The Thanksgiving & Co. website tells us that the first winter the Pilgrims spent in their new home was dagnabitt-ly bitter cold. “Food was in short supply. Some days, they only had enough food for each person to have five kernels of corn for the day.”

When spring came in 1621, they planted food that “grew and grew.” The website account continued: “The harvest was good, and they celebrated Thanksgiving with their native American friends. From then on, at each Thanksgiving feast, the Pilgrims laid out five kernels of corn on each plate to remind themselves of their blessings, and a simple legend was created.”

It goes like this:

The first kernel reminds us of the autumn beauty all around us.
The second kernel reminds us of our love for one another.
The third kernel reminds us of God’s love and care for us.
The fourth kernel reminds us of all our friends, especially our native brothers.
The fifth kernel reminds us that we are a free people.

Yvonne Pratt of Lancaster County, Pa., maintains a blog that is designed to preserve “America’s farmhouse heritage.” She says: “On Thanksgiving, we leave five kernels of corn by each plate, and guests use them to count off five of the year’s biggest blessings, giving specific thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow.”

Looking back, it was a minor miracle that 53 of the original 102 Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower lived to attend the first Thanksgiving. They were the survivors who avoided disease and starvation and made it through the tough times that first winter.

Guests at the first Thanksgiving included 90 of the Wampanoag (WOMP uh NO ag) people from a nearby village, including their chieftain and king, Massasoit. The Native Americans had taught the colonists how to plant crops, fish and gather foods from the forests.

Colonist Edward Winslow, who worked as a printer in London, became the colonists’ official scribe. He wrote: “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men out fowling.” The fowlers shot ample waterfowl.

However, it was the Native Americans who supplied the majority of the food, including deer, turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread and berries, according to Nancy Eldredge of Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Mass.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Express your gratitude as a daily activity in November

Welcome to November. It’s “National Gratitude Month.” Dagnabbit: What a great idea! Give thanks to Stacy Grewal, an author, spiritual mentor and life coach, who first suggested the official designation.

Let’s make every day in November a day of thankfulness. The folks at National Day Calendar, an organization based in Mandan, N.D., approved Grewal’s recommendation in 2015. As a result, November is now to be forever known as National Gratitude Month in North America.

“Gratitude is an essential ingredient of a happy, fulfilling life,” said Grewal, who wrote the book Gratitude and Goals: Create the Life You Would Love to Live, published in 2010.

She noted: “Research shows that practicing daily gratitude can enhance our moods, decrease stress and drastically improve our overall level of wellbeing.”

The 30 days of November present “a great opportunity to see if you can improve your life by getting more in touch with gratitude,” Grewal said. “Grateful people tend to be healthier, more physically fit and have much more satisfying personal and professional relationships.”

She shares the soapbox with Lewis Howes, a U.S. Olympian (team handball) and author. He coined the phrase “attitude of gratitude,” according to Andrew Merle, a contributor to the Huffington Post.

Grewal offers a bit of testimony on her website, She has counted her blessings since 1997, when she conquered alcohol. “My life has had its ups and downs, but every day I grow more happy, joyous and free,” she wrote. “I’m on a mission to share things to help others to live happier, fuller, more grateful, spiritually enlightened lives.”

She and her husband, along with their three sons, live in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, which is just north of Toronto. Grewal welcomes comments via her Facebook account.

The benefits of gratitude impact individuals in a physical, psychological and social matter, according to a study from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. People that practice gratitude on a daily basis tend to have:

Fewer feelings of isolation and loneliness; a stronger immune system; better sleep; lowered blood pressure; reduced anxiety and depression; reduction in body aches and pains; and increased satisfaction at work/school.

Heather Haunga, writing for The Organized Mom website, said parents who are interested in schooling their children about gratitude might want to consider a few family activities.

Create a “family gratitude jar.” Family members are invited to add notes about things they are thankful for, and share the contents at dinner on Thanksgiving.

Select a collection of Thanksgiving and gratitude books for family reading time.

Paint some “gratitude stones” with pretty hearts that can be conversation starters about thankfulness and also used as gifts to be given to precious friends.

Create a “thankful tree” that allows each family member to contribute notes on colored leaves cut from construction paper. It makes a great decoration. Instructions can be found at

Additionally, Janae Jacobson, who maintains the “I Can Teach My Child” website, suggests a family-fun game, “turkey toss of thankfulness.” Taking turns, participants toss the turkey ball back and forth while saying what they’re thankful for. Half the fun of it is making your own turkey ball with feathers.

Laurie Turk of recommends children make the holiday dinner table placemats, and offers seven tutorials from which to choose.

Angie Kauffman has several websites that she manages. One is “Real Life at Home,” and she shares tips about children making the entire table cloth. Perhaps this project is more suited for older children or a houseful of young artists.

Literature is filled with poetry and words of wisdom from some of the old masters. Among them was Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC), the Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul,” said Henry Ward Beecher (1813-87), an American Congregationalist clergyman and social reformer.

Young children can grasp that imagery of a flower blooming as well as understand the message conveyed by William Arthur Ward (1921-94), an American writer of inspirational maxims, who said:

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” 

‘Evergleam’ Christmas trees enjoy 60 years of holiday cheer

Silver trees and color wheels: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas from 1959. Happy 60th anniversary to the “Evergleam” brand of a...