Washington column for Dec. 26

Heart of Christmas

As 2013 comes to an end and we start looking back on another successful year in Rappahannock County, the nights are drawing in, there a chill in the air, and Santa Claus is preparing for his peak delivery season — like many of you!

Christmas is a celebration marking the birth of Jesus Christ, who was born more than 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. Jesus of Nazareth was born to the Virgin Mary, according to the Christian churches that based their teachings on his teachings.

For some, Christmas is a time of celebrating and taking a break from the daily grind of life, before stepping up again in the new year.

Christmas is celebrated in many different ways, the celebrations varied by cultural practices, financial capacity and social and political factors. For some, it is a season for giving to the less fortunate ones and caring for them. One can dedicate all the efforts to help someone in need — a neighbor or a friend who is in need of help or care.

Christmas can be celebrated as a period of forgiving family or friends who have wronged us and asking for forgiveness from those we have wronged. We can celebrate this time by building new, stronger relationships with our families and friends.

For the religious, Christmas can be celebrated as a time for intense prayers for strengthening. It can also be celebrated by giving gifts, however big or small, to those you care about, making them feel special and loved.

It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace on earth.

Wherever we are, near or far, let’s remember to stop for a moment this holiday season to cherish the ones we love, and let’s make sure they know it.

I hope this year has been a fruitful one for you and your family, and that this season of joy brings you many blessings, good food and lots of time to spend with family and friends. Christmas is more than just giving and receiving gifts.

May each of us, in our own way, seek to increase outreach to others, peace and love in the light of the new year. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and blessed New Year!

R.H. Ballard sale

Though it’s slightly after the holidays, R. H. Ballard Shop & Gallery (307 Main St.) is offering 20 to 50 percent off nearly everything in the store — but only from Dec. 26-31. Be sure and stop in!

Civil War stories

Kirsten Beachy tells Civil War stories of Brethren and Mennonite women in the Shenandoah Valley at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5 at the Washington town hall. Also covered are how women experienced love, terror, the burning of the Valley and hungry soldiers. A $5 donation is requested. Refreshments will be served. For more information, contact the Rappahannock Historical Society at 540-675-1163 or rapphistsoc@comcast.net.