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Posts tagged: Christmas

Oh Silent Light of the Capitol Christmas Tree

The 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree shimmers like a thousand stars after a lighting ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert H. Westover)

The 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree shimmers like a thousand stars after a lighting ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service/Robert H. Westover)

A crown jewel of American Christmas trees lit the night sky Dec. 3 as thousands of lights burst around the 88-foot-tall 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree. A momentary hush of silent awe overcame the crowd gathered on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol to witness the ceremony that has origins dating back to 1964.

An eight-point star shimmered at the top of the 79-year-old Englemann spruce harvested from the Colville National Forest in Washington State. Decorating the tree are hundreds of ornaments made by people of Washington, many of them drawn and glued together by school children. Read more »

US Capitol Christmas Tree has Deep Roots Connecting Americans

Only a massive tree will complement the expanse of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The selected tree is usually between 60 feet and 80 feet tall and holds tens of thousands of lights. The ornaments are made by people – mostly children in many cases – who live in the state where the tree is harvested. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

Only a massive tree will complement the expanse of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The selected tree is usually between 60 feet and 80 feet tall and holds tens of thousands of lights. The ornaments are made by people – mostly children in many cases – who live in the state where the tree is harvested. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol)

As the 88-foot Engelmann spruce is paraded into Washington, D.C., today, Nov. 25, it brings with it an annual tradition that has been rooted in history and shared by millions of Americans for decades.

The 2013 Capitol Christmas Tree is a gift from the Colville National Forest and people living in Washington State. The Washington community raised the money and support needed to help harvest, transport and decorate the tree that will stand on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. They also helped with a collection of smaller trees for various offices in D.C.

The tree will be lit by Speaker of the House John Boehner during a ceremony at 5 p.m. Dec. 3. Read more »

Packing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for Ride ‘Home’ is no Easy Feat

In a staging area, workers carefully begin the process of wrapping the tree to protect it during the 5,000-mile journey from Colville National Forest to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

In a staging area, workers carefully begin the process of wrapping the tree to protect it during the 5,000-mile journey from Colville National Forest to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The 88-foot Engelmann spruce tree that will grace the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol as a gift from the people must first get from Colville National Forest in Washington State to Washington, D.C.

That means careful packing with special attention paid to cocooning the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree so the thick branches stay intact and nothing hangs over the side of the trailer it is placed on.

“What does it take to wrap an 88-foot-tall Engelmann spruce?” said Franklin Pemberton of the Colville National Forest. “Also a lot of hard-working volunteers, 4,000 feet of parachute cord with a 550-pound breaking strength and a huge building.” Read more »

Smokey Bear Hug Warms the Heart of Young Virginia Boy Battling Cancer

Six-year-old Nathan Norman and Smokey Bear share a moment together during a Feb. 25, 2013 visit to Nathan’s home.

Six-year-old Nathan Norman and Smokey Bear share a moment together during a Feb. 25, 2013 visit to Nathan’s home.

Six-year-old Nathan Norman counts Smokey Bear as one of his new best friends. The Rustburg, Va., boy recently met Smokey and a number of wildland firefighters and law enforcement officers from the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests as part of his hobby of reaching out to these first responders for cards and letters of support.

Nathan, diagnosed with brain cancer at 2 and with spinal cancer at 4, has spent much of his life in and out of hospitals. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Helps Make Holidays Merry for Pennsylvania Children

The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

Rather than the traditional office name exchange this year, the Pennsylvania USDA Rural Development State Office staff added a new twist.  Each employee made a list of toys they enjoyed as children. The lists were exchanged and employees purchased toys for an eight year old version of their co-worker.  The wrapped toys were recently distributed at an office holiday gathering.

The staff enjoyed opening baby dolls, remote control helicopters, games and puzzles. As children, the staff may have had a difficult time handing over their new “toys” to strangers.  However, smiles were all around as over 30 unwrapped toys were picked up by two uniformed Marines to be delivered to their local distribution center. Read more »

Planting a Holiday Tradition

One of the many celebrations and traditions that people still practice is the burning of the yule log and singing yuletide carols. Photo courtesy of Penny Stritch.

One of the many celebrations and traditions that people still practice is the burning of the yule log and singing yuletide carols. Photo courtesy of Penny Stritch.

Many holiday traditions are celebrated during the season surrounding the winter solstice, or the time when the sun is at its lowest point above the horizon.

For communities and families, plants play a central role in these traditions. Yet, most people are unaware of the origins of how plants like holly and yule logs became part of holidays and traditions. Read more »