Monday, December 17, 2007

January Book

January book club will be held at Kim S.'s.  If you are discussing the book, please come at 6:30.  All others come at 7:15.  Don't forget to bring a snack to share.  See you then!

Our first book club meeting of 2008 will be on Monday, January 14th.  The book we will be discussing is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson.

Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers' hearts.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Because you asked...

*In 1836, Alabama was the first state to declare Christmas an official holiday.  This happened 71 years before the last state — Oklahoma — followed suit in 1907. Christmas is the only legal national religious holiday in the United States.

**Early in the evening of June 17, 2 B.C., the brightest planets in the sky, Jupiter and Venus, merged into a dazzling "star" near the western horizon, according to calculations of modern astronomers. In countries to the east of what was then the kingdom of Judea, observers could have seen the fused planets as a beacon in the direction of Jerusalem.  Astrologers associated Jupiter with the birth of kings and Venus with fertility. The meeting of Jupiter and Venus took place in the constellation Leo the Lion, which the Old Testament of the Bible specifically associates with the Jewish people. And it happened near the brightest star in Leo, Regulus, most closely identified with kingship.  There has not been a brighter, closer conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in Leo so near to Regulus in the 2,000 years since.

***The first postage stamp for Christmas was issued in 1937 in Austria: the Rose and Signs of the Zodiac stamp.  The first official US Christmas stamp was launched in 1962.

Monday, December 10, 2007

December Quiz

1. What American state was the first to make Christmas an official holiday?
a. Connecticut
b. Alabama
c. Alaska
d. North Carolina

2. What is the shape of the candy cane modeled after?
a. A fish hook
b. A constellation of stars
c. The cane St. Nicholas used
d. A shepard’s crook

3. What was the name of the Grinch’s dog on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"?
a. Rudolph
b. Toto
c. Max
d. Cerberus

4. Which star led the Three Kings to Jesus?
a. Star of David
b. North Star
c. Star of Bethlehem
d. Angel Star

5. What was the name of Scrooges' dead business partner in "A Christmas Carol"?
a. Jacob Marley
b. Bob Cratchit
c. Tiny Tim
d. Bill Sykes

6. Where did the real St. Nicholas live?
a. In Holland
b. At the North Pole
c. In Turkey
d. In Germany

7. What brought Frosty the Snowman to life?
a. Pixie Dust
b. An old silk hat
c. A kiss
d. A fresh snowfall

8. When you go Wassailing, what is it that you are doing?
a. Giving out gifts to your friends & neighbors
b. Going out in the woods to cut down your Christmas tree
c. Challenging as many of your neighbors as you can to a snowball fight
d. Going to visit neighbors and receiving goodies!

9. In the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" how do you know that an angel has received his wings?
a. A light flashes
b. It starts raining
c. A trumpet sounds
d. A bell rings

10. Who was the author of "A Christmas Carol"?
a. Hans Christian Anderson
b. Charles Dickens
c. Thomas M. Sawyer
d. Mark Twain

11. What was pictured on the first stamp printed for the Christmas season?
a. Santa Claus
b. An Angel
c. A Star
d. A Rose

12. The poem commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas" was originally titled:
a. The Night Before Christmas
b. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
c. A Visit From Saint Nicholas
d. The Night Visitor

13. At Christmas, it is customary to exchange kisses beneath a sprig of which plant?
a. Holly
b. Mistletoe
c. Ivy
d. Pine

14. Which of these events did NOT occur on Christmas Day?
a. Hong Kong fell to the Japanese in WWII.
b. Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by four ghosts.
c. King Arthur pulled Excalibur from the stone.
d. Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

15. In Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, the nutcracker's main enemy is:
a. A girl named Clara.
b. The King of Mice.
c. Drosselmeyer the Magician.
d. Dr. Almond

16. Good King Wenceslas was king of which country?
a. Hungary
b. Bohemia
c. Poland
d. Czechoslovakia

17. When was Christmas first celebrated?
a. The year after Jesus was crucified
b. Around 100 AD
c. In the 4th Century
d. 1935

18. Why was December 25th chosen as Christmas Day?
a. That's when Jesus was born
b. To compete with a pagan celebration
c. That's when Christmas trees are in season
d. That's when the Bible says to celebrate it

19. What country did poinsettias originally come from?
a. The U.S.
b. Cuba
c. Mexico
d. Brazil

20. How did Xmas originate as an abbreviation for Christmas?
a. Atheists refused to accept "Christ" as part of the word
b. The early popes were lazy so they tended to shorten everything
c. The Greek word for Christ is Xristos
d. From Latin terminology for any holy day

21. How many reindeer does Santa Claus have?
a. Santa has eight reindeer.
b. Santa has nine reindeer.
c. Santa does not have reindeer. They are really caribou.
d. Santa has a whole herd of reindeer-- we only know about his favorite ones.

22. What comes after '8 maids a-milking' in the song 'The 12 Days of Christmas'?
a. 9 pipers piping
b. 9 lords a-leaping
c. 9 drummers drumming
d. 9 ladies dancing

23. When are the '12 Days of Christmas'?
a. The 12 days before Christmas: December 14 to December 25
b. The 12 days after Christmas: December 26 to January 6
c. The 12 days around Christmas: Christmas Eve to January 4
d. The 12 days beginning with the winter solstice: December 21 to January 1

24. Santa's only female sleigh-pulling reindeer, Vixen, has antlers. True or false?
a. False. Only the male reindeer have antlers.
b. True. Both male and female reindeer have antlers.

25. In the movie 'Miracle on 34th Street', Kris Kringle is hired to play Santa Claus in what large department store?
a. Marshall Field's
b. FAO Schwarz
c. Macy's
d. Gimble's

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December Meeting

Our December get together will be at Perugino's in Winder. There is a private room in the back and the chef speaks with an Italian accent! Don't forget to bring your ornament for exchange! If you are participating in the discussion of The Christmas Train, please come at 6:30. If you are not, please do not come before 7:15. Please RSVP in the comments section by Saturday, December 8 so that I can make a reservation. (If you are having trouble commenting, leave your comment as anonymous and put your name in the body of your text!)