December is the social butterfly of the calendar. This month has many festivals, observances and holidays, duly observed with brunches, lunches, office parties and dinners, culminating, of course, in the granddaddy of all party dates, New Year's Eve. Many celebrations around the globe have to do with light. On Sweden's St. Lucia Day, Dec. 13, the oldest daughter of the family brings breakfast in bed to her parents, wearing a crown of lights -- originally candles, now battery operated. Los Posadas in Mexico is a series of nine consecutive days of candlelight processions and parties, beginning Dec. 16. Hanukkah begins with the lighting of the first Menorah candle on Dec. 26, and continues with another candle being lit each evening for the following eight days. Christmas is an explosion of lights, indoors and out, as houses, stores, trees and virtually anything immovable gets illuminated. Not surprisingly, the winter solstice on Dec. 21 is Look on the Bright Side Day and also National Flashlight Day.
Have you heard the urban legend of why the candy cane is a symbol of Christmas? It is a hard candy to represent Christ, the rock of ages. White is for purity, the red stripes for blood shed for the sins of the world. The shape resembles a J for Jesus, or an upside down shepherd's staff. Peppermint flavoring is similar to hyssop, mentioned in the Old Testament as used for purification and sacrifice. It is said to have been the creation of a candy maker in Indiana, but in truth, the first candy canes were actually hard candy sticks created by the choirmaster of Cologne in 1670 and given to children in an effort to quiet them during long church services. It was also about that time that Christmas trees were gaining in favor, and the sticks were bent on top so they could be hung from the boughs. It wasn't until the 1920s that a confectioner by the name of Bob McCormick from Albany, Ga., added the red stripes.
The Rim Country Classic Auto Club is collecting gift items for needy seniors in the area. Suggested items include stamps, hand lotion, knit slippers, aftershave, washcloths and towels, puzzles and games and calendars. Unwrapped gifts may be dropped off at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St., until Dec. 20.
Looking for a gift for that person on your list who has everything? A monetary contribution to the Payson Public Library in his or her name is of lasting benefit to the library. For information, call the library at (928) 474-9260. Another suggestion: take a look at the selection of books in the Library Friends Bookstore, located just inside the library at 328 N. McLane.
The Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway, will be closed from Dec. 23 until Jan. 5 for the Christmas and New Years holidays.
Massage therapy will be available Thursdays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 at the Circle. Call (928) 472-9290 for an appointment.
The fibromyalgia support group will meet from 10:30 a.m. until noon Friday, Dec. 9 at the Circle building.
Knitters are invited to join the new knitting and crocheting club beginning Tuesday mornings in January. For more information, call (928) 472-9290.
The Pine/Strawberry Senior Center on Highway 87 in Pine will be closed from Dec. 24 until Jan. 2, 2006. The Thrift Store will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 28, 29 and 30 and closed Saturday, Dec. 24 and 31. There will be a sale on selected merchandise.
If you are still confused about the new Medicare prescription program, plan to attend a program explaining it presented by AARP from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 8.
Toni Fahey is Volunteer of the Month at the Senior Center. Toni has volunteered at the Center for two years and helps register members and guests for lunch.
On Saturday, Dec. 10, Payson will celebrate Bill of Rights Day. The celebration is a matching funds project to benefit the Payson Senior Center, sponsored by the Modern Woodmen of America. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tonto Apache Gym. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted, with all money going to the Senior Center. There will be musical entertainment, craft and vendor booths, door prizes, a silent auction and a live radio remote broadcast. For information, contact Tina Terry at (928) 468-1111.
Marguerite Laughran, R.N., Gila County Health Department, will be at the Center from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13 to do blood pressure and blood sugar tests. No appointment is necessary and there is no charge.
The computer class originally planned for January has been rescheduled for March. There is a sign-up sheet at the Dispatch Desk in the Center Lobby, 514 W. Main St.
The December birthday celebration will be at noon Wednesday, Dec. 21. If your birthday is this month, put your name in the birthday barrel to be eligible for a gift drawing.
The Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St., will be closed Dec. 26 because of the Christmas holiday.
Christmas gift certificates in various denominations are available at the Thrift Store, 512 W. Main St.
We may give without loving, but we cannot love without giving.