Contest winners light up the holiday


by Myndi Brogdon
The Pine-Strawberry Residential Christmas Tree Lighting Contest results are in. Four judges toured Pine and Strawberry recently to check out the grand displays our residents created and pick their favorites.

Below we've listed the addresses and subdivisions of the winners, and our local real estate companies have maps of Pine and Strawberry that should make these beautiful homes easy to find.

Take an evening drive through the back roads, sing carols and enjoy the season.

Congratulations to grand-prize winners Ron and Cheri Merckly at 6742 Bradshaw in Strawberry Mountain Shadows II in Pine.

Their display features a happy holiday sign, blue and white lights, stars and reindeer.

In Pine there was a tie for first prize between Sam Sedita and Chris Malloy at 58 Chaparral Lane in White Oak Glen and Chuck and Peggy Spurling at 6097 Hidden Pines Loop in Hidden Pines.

Dennis and Gail Gillette at 157 Mary Gay Circle in Strawberry Mountain Shadows II and Betsy Lane and Carl Porter at 4430 Whispering Pines in Pine Ranches Unit II tied for second in Pine.

Ralph Fuller at the corner of Hardscrabble and Highway 87 took third place in Pine.

In Strawberry, first place went to Phyllis and Carl Bialik at 8254 Glen Straun in Strawberry Knolls II.

Second place in Strawberry went to two houses on the same street. Jack and Sally Bonkowski at 16 Rim View Loop in Strawberry View tied with their neighbors Frank and Jackie Allhands.

Fred Pattison and Joe Sonbrio at 5119 N. Strawberry Drive in Strawberry Knolls and Lynn Fergusen at 18 Mary's Way in Shady Lane Estates tied for third in Strawberry.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks for lighting up our holiday.

My 10-year-old is struggling to figure out whether Santa Claus is real or not. She has faithfully believed in Santa up until this year.

"I want to know, but I don't," she said to me recently. She figures if she knows the truth, Santa won't come -- that if she doesn't believe in Christmas wishes they won't come true. So instead of asking me directly, which I can tell she is dying to do, she has chosen to go on believing.

I searched for a way to tell her about this mystical giver of goods. Who is this character who has brought generosity to generations of children. And like a gift, I found and read for the first time the famous editorial "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus," written by Francis P. Church in 1897.

Here it is:

"Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus.

"Papa says, 'If you see it in the Sun it's so.' Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?"

"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see.

"They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be (grown-ups) or children's are very little.

"Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound to give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

"Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in the sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!

"... The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor (grown-ups) can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there.

"You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world, which not the strongest (grown-up) ... that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view ... the beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else so real and abiding.

"No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

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