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Letter from the Editor

We hope (with compliments to Yogi Berra) it’s better than déjà vu

The Maryland General Assembly isn’t the only big thing beginning anew this month.     (Does beginning anew agree with you? Strictly speaking, anew is a tautology in the phrase as beginning is beginning. Still, in the spiral of life, renewal is a great force, giving us second, third and more chances, if we’re lucky. There! I’ve reasoned myself into beginning anew. How about you?)

That’s our hope for you in 2017

Self-Care 101 was not in my college curriculum. I graduated knowing more about forms of poetry — I especially liked terza rima — than how to live healthy, let alone wealthy or wise. (Though the latter was supposed to be the road to which my liberal arts education led.)

My favorite stories of 2016

Together, we read a lot of stories over the course of a year. Many of them give you a moment’s insight or delight. Others tell you just what you need to know. Some of them stay in your mind, even after all those words have come between you and them all that time ago. So I can still recount stories we ran five, or 10 or 23 years ago.     Before I close the book on 2016 (yes, I really do have a large, heavy book labeled Vol. XXIV), I want to revisit some of my favorites this year.

Maybe, just maybe, you will

We expect great things this time of year.         No wonder, for the winter holidays set expectations high.

When you think about it, a homemade Christmas cookie is quite the thing

As a taste treat, it’s hard to complain about an Oreo. Still, you’ll find in these pages reason after reason why store-bought cookies — even Oreos — can’t compare with homemade. Especially at Christmas, which is for cookies what Thanksgiving is for pumpkin pie and Hanukkah is for latkes.

Could that be the season’s best gift?

Help! I shouted as the tide of all I had to do threatened to overwhelm me.     My to-do list is so long that I expect it to outlive me. That’s the way it is in my family. My mother never forgave her third husband, John Allison, for dying — with dirt on his hands — before he’d finished planting her rose bed, leaving her in burgeoning spring with a legacy of chores undone. Any new season piles more on the list, none more than this holiday season.

How Chesapeake Country turns winter from darkness into fun

This season of year, we count on divine intervention to brighten the sun, warm up the days and fertilize the earth. But to assure that the powers that be — the good hand of God or the harmony of the spheres — know we’re paying attention, we pile on human intervention.     We fire up our lights to combat the darkness.     We strike up the bands to both cheer ourselves and knock on heaven’s door.     We feast, give gifts and play out stories that remind us of our good intentions.

Spoiler alert: Don’t let the kids read this

Santa Claus is coming to town. Love him or hate him, he’s a fact.     You’ll see him everywhere in the weeks ahead. If you shop at Westfield Annapolis Mall, you’ve been seeing him since the day after Veteran’s Day. With this issue, we acknowledge his inevitability. And we take a closer look at the man behind the snowy white beard.

That’s a blessing I’m seeking to count this Thanksgiving

If you’ve seen the brand-new movie Arrival (and if you haven’t, do, but more about that later), you know that feelings find expression in different ways. Very different languages are the movie’s subjects. But there’s more to the irrepressible drive than language. We sentient beings (including Heptapods) are compelled to impress ourselves on the world, by whatever means we choose.

How to manage the perfect ending for your ­Thanksgiving Feast

The year is fast unfolding. In less than two weeks, we celebrate Thanksgiving.     Food, family and gratitude for our blessings are the focus of that holiday. Food brings the family together and the gratitude forth. So about this time every year, we begin planning for the Thanksgiving feast.     When the Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest feast with the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth, they would have dined upon seasonally available fowl, seafood, shellfish, game and side dishes.