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NEWS
By Jonathan Pitts, The Baltimore Sun | December 19, 2013
For the Douglas clan of Nottingham, the most magical time of the year doesn't start until they spend a morning oohing and ahhing their way through the aisles of the glittering winter wonderland that is the annual Christmas display and sale at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville. For more than 40 years, employees at the popular garden and nursery center have started as early as the summer to transform its interior into a holiday cavalcade, including aisle upon aisle of ornaments from around the world, heavily laden trees as tall as 12 feet, and shelves of gifts that range from $400, hand-carved German nutcrackers to $19 stockings festooned with crabs.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | December 19, 2013
Folks convinced there's a "war on Christmas" should hurry to the Kennedy Center and catch a new opera that is as Christmas as all get out. We're talking Mary, Joseph and a no vacancy sign at the inn. We're talking a watchful angel and a bright star.  OK, so there's a unicorn, too. And a lion. And some occasionally cheeky contemporary humor. But, hey, the bottom line is still faith, hope and love, and you can't argue with that.  Washington National Opera, where cool things seem to happen more often since Francesca Zambello became artistic director, is presenting the world premiere of "The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me" this holiday season.
ENTERTAINMENT
Richard Gorelick and The Baltimore Sun | December 19, 2013
We have added a few options to our round-up of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dining options. Regi's in Federal Hill is open until 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve, offering a $30.18 holiday prix-fixe menu in addidition to its regular menu., and from from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting with brunch fare and moving on to big salads and dinner. Ra Sushi is open until 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve and opens at 4 p.m. on Christmas Day. And take a look at what Pazo is doing this year. Instead of the buffet-style Christmas Eve dinner the Harbor East restaurant has offered in the past, Pazo is serving a three-course fixed-price menu with main course options like Creekmore Farms hagner steak, braised pork cheeks and magret (duck breast)
BUSINESS
Lorraine Mirabella and Lorraine Mirabella | December 18, 2013
Consumers who want guaranteed Christmas delivery on their online purchases better act fast. Most retailers -- 84.2 percent -- say guaranteed delivery for the holiday will end before Dec. 20, according to Shop.org's eHoliday survey, completed by Prosper Insights & Analytics. And nearly three quarters of online sellers plan to end free shipping promotions on or before Dec. 20th. "With Christmas falling on a Wednesday this year, we expect to see numerous offers from retailers for expedited and express shipping as we head into the final stretch and potentially biggest weekend of the holiday season," said Vicki Cantrell, executive director of Shop.org.
NEWS
Susan Reimer | December 18, 2013
It is old-school, all right, but one of the traditions columnists observe at this time of year is to highlight a favorite charity, reminding readers who have donated in the past to do so again. So again this year I will focus on "Be a Santa to a Senior," a holiday fund-raising campaign to provide a little something to those who are the most vulnerable among us - the aging poor. It was begun a decade ago by Paul and Lori Hogan, founders of Home Instead Senior Care, which provides nonmedical, in-home care for seniors.
NEWS
By Gwendolyn Glenn | December 17, 2013
Cold temperatures, sleet and snow did not stop the nearly 200 people who came out for the Laurel Historical Society's Holiday House Tour on Saturday, Dec. 14. Warmly dressed people braved the cold to tour brightly lit homes and buildings, elegantly decorated for the Christmas holiday season. The event attracted newcomers and those who regularly take the self-guided house tours. "I've been coming for years because I love seeing the homes and the renovations the owners have made," said Shari Pollard, a member of the Laurel Historical Society, as she picked up tickets at the Laurel Museum, the starting point for the tour.
BUSINESS
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun | December 15, 2013
The moment Fred and Kimberly Clark waited for since planting firs, pines and other evergreens eight years ago finally arrived last weekend. Their first Christmas tree sales. All farming is delayed gratification, but the delay is particularly long for Christmas tree growers. The Clarks, who run two backyard farms in Calvert County, have done a lot of planting and shearing since 2005 in the hopes of an eventual payoff. It's not as simple as it looked to Fred Clark years ago when he stopped by a Christmas tree farm and watched a farmer accept customers' cash.
FEATURES
By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun | December 14, 2013
Each year, the staff of Baltimore ad agency Planit puts together a video Christmas card, something cute to send to clients and friends. This year, the creative directors got a little more creative than usual.  They ushered employees into a back room decorated with glittering trees and giant presents and told them to sing carols for the camera.  A few minutes into the song BAM! a guy wearing a scary mask and elf costumes popped out of the box. The reactions are priceless.  Some people scream.  One woman lurches off with a wreath around her head.
FEATURES
By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun | December 13, 2013
Forget that namby pamby Elf on the Shelf stuff -- if you really want to get your kids to behave at Christmas time, tell them about Krampus. Krampus is a sort of anti-Claus, a horned beast who stuffs bad children in his sack. He brandishes birch branches, rattles chains and spirits away naughty kids to eat them, drown them or take them on a holiday tour of hell.   Krampus' tongue is forked, his hooves cloven, and we can only imagine that his matted fur smells like the remains of last year's Christmas roast.  He makes his first appearances in early German folklore, but seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance, as evidenced by this and this and this . From 7 to 9 tonight, Krampus will be terrifying children of all ages at Bazaar,  3534 Chestnut Ave. in Hampden.
NEWS
December 12, 2013
My son Ryan was arrested on Sept. 24 for entering an unlocked rear of a dwelling he thought was occupied by an elderly wheelchair-bound women for whom he ran errands, but he entered the wrong home after knocking on the front door for some time. He was trying to earn the last $5 or so of the $30 coming due for restitution on a prior case in which he admitted wrongdoing. My son was really trying to get his counseling and treatment in order and begin to become a good citizen until this happened.
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