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Light the Christmas tree in Spokane Valley

The Rotary Club of Spokane Valley is getting the Christmas tree in the University City parking lot ready for the annual lighting ceremony on Dec. 4 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Santa is stopping by and the choir Solar Energy from the Sunrise Elementary School will be singing. 

Then, on Dec. 6, Rotary Club of Spokane Valley is co-hosting breakfast with Santa together with Spokane Valley, at CenterPlace event center. Last year, more than 600 people showed up for pictures with Santa, crafts, games and of course the pancake breakfast. Tickets: $5. Register by calling (509) 688-0300 or register online here by clicking the breakfast with Santa link. 

I never thought it was a bad little tree

That's what I plan to say if I catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree bound for Washington, D.C.

Christmas Trees: Real or Fake?

Trees stand ready for Christmas duty at Carver Farms in Newman Lake.

With the countdown to Christmas well under way, families are flocking to area farms and lots to pick the perfect tree.

“It’s a family tradition,” said Chelsey Williamson. “We come out every year to one of the tree farms to get a tree.”

Williamson visited Dietz Christmas Tree Farm at Green Bluff on Saturday with her husband, Ryan, and their children, Jayden, 12, and Ethan, 8. Chelsea Bannach, SR Read more.

For many years my husband and sons chopped down a fresh tree at Huckaba's Christmas Tree Farm in Green Bluff. Now that our kids are older and the two oldest have left home, Derek and the younger boys buy a fresh tree at a nearby tree lot.

This weekend the scent of Christmas filled our house as they hauled the Perfect Tree inside. Our cats are thrilled and I simply can't imagine Christmas without the smell of a freshly-cut Noble Fir.

How about you? Fresh tree or artificial?

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum…

Good morning, Netizens…


Good morning, Netizens…


For most of the year, it lives in the deepest most-depraved corner of our basement, in a little-used closet space beneath the basement stairs, somewhat adjacent to the hot water heater. Each year, in my experience, it is reverently disassembled and put in a pasteboard box for yet another year, and returned to that space from which it was brought forth. It is our Christmas Tree, and although previous to my marriage to Suzie, over a decade ago, I had always used a living evergreen, cut freshly each year and installed triumphantly in its place of honor. Thus it was decorated and once Christmas was over, the ornaments were unceremoniously put back in their boxes for yet another year, and in lean years, the dead tree was used for firewood.


Suzie has taught me the importance of traditions, such as a Christmas Tree that lives, unseen and unspoken, in a dark and foreboding place in our basement rather than on some Stevens County back road hillside. Actually our Christmas tree has little to do with its faux pine tree exterior. When we first were married, the Christmas ornaments came carefully packed in two large pasteboard boxes, mostly hand-wrapped in newspaper, some in their original boxes. The tree even lives in a box of its own. Nearly all of them have historical significance, although to ordinary people or visitors, the significance of the history involved depends upon how well you know our families.


Some of the baubles and decorations are antiques, or at least qualify themselves as being old enough to remember each bauble's lineage, which may involve invoking the name(s) of the various deceased members of the family from which they came, or the various geological places on the planet where they were purchased. If you went to Billy Bob's Drive-In Restaurant in wind-blasted god forsaken Kemmerer, Wyoming for a quick bite to tide you over on your long jaunt to Nebraska, where all godly citizens are born and raised, and if you happen to see a trinket beneath the glass counter that is calling your name, it might be hanging beneath our tree, waiting to have its story told to some unsuspecting person. Complete, of course, with the denouement that you nearly died of ptomaine poisoning from eating a sludge burger at Billy Bob's, of course. You didn't know that when you impulsively bought the bauble that says, “Kemmerer, Wyoming, Gateway to the sublime”, but the story of your experiences out on the grasslands of Wyoming lives on, hanging mutely upon our tree.


Every Christmas Tree must have an angel atop its spire, and our Christmas tree vastly outdoes them all when it comes to sheer tawdry cheek with just enough of a touch of the celestial to make it part of the deepest meanings of the Yuletide. As ethereal and mystical as the old angel looks, however, women, in particular angels, haven't worn gowns like that in multiple decades, which is about how old our angel is. Before you ask, however, our angel atop our Christmas Tree, has an all-knowing smirk on her face that suggests she has seen over forty Christmases come and go and thus she has seen it all, and no, she doesn't wear knickers. No self-respecting angel atop a Christmas Tree should need to be worried about such things.




If you went out today…

You probably saw scenes like this.


It's a happy sight. But sometimes it's tempting to imagine the Jeff Bridges character from "Starman" putting a hand on the tree and bringing it back to life.


Christmas tree lightings tonight

Hundreds of Spokane Valley residents turned out for the second annual Christmas tree lighting at University City Mall in 2004. The event had several musical performances, a Santa visit and the tree lighting. SR file photo.

Both Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake are having Christmas tree lighting ceremonies tonight, so bundle up the kids tonight and head out to one of the celebrations. Spokane Valley's annual ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the University City parking lot at University and Sprague. The lighting will be at 6 p.m. Spokane Valley Mayor Tom Towey will speak and there are usually singers performing Christmas music. The event is hosted by the Spokane Valley Rotary.

Liberty Lake's annual ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 22710 E. Country Vista Drive. The night is packed with free events, including crafts, carriage rides, choir music and pictures with Santa. The evening ends at 8 p.m.

Only 24 more days until Christmas!

Capitol Xmas Tree Arrives In D.C.

The 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree arrives in Washington on Monday, following a 20-day cross-country tour that started in the Stanislaus National Forest in northern California. The 65-foot white fir tree will be illuminated during a ceremony scheduled for Dec. 6. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Question: When do you put up your Christmas tree? Real? Or fake?

When silence falls like snow

    The dog scratched at the door, asking to go outside. For days the city had been wrapped in a front of arctic air that swept down from the north and wouldn’t leave us. It was so cold that the doorknob burned against the palm of my hand when I turned it and the first breath shocked me, making me gasp.

    The dog rushed out into the darkness, disappearing into the backyard. He rolled in the snow, happy to be out of the too-warm house - too warm if you’re wearing a fur coat - and then stood still, sniffing the air.
    I wasn’t dressed for the weather but I stepped out and closed the door behind me. It was so beautiful I was pulled out into the night.

    In the cold, pure, silence that falls with snow, we stood there, alone in the dark. The air was so cold the snowflakes were thin and sharp, like frozen shards of broken rain swirling around me. I could feel them land on my face and in my hair. The sky was filled with crystals and the hard, crusted snow glittered.
    I pulled my robe tight, tucking my hands under the collar, feeling the chill creep in through the soles of my boots.

     Every breath I took lingered, hanging in the air around me, a cloud of proof that I was there in that cold place, warm and alive.

            Looking up, the sky formed a dome over me. For a moment, I was encased in a frozen bubble. There was no sound except the white noise of snow falling and landing on the roofs of the houses on the street, collecting on the boughs of the Ponderosa pines, falling to the ground around me. I listened to the sound of my heartbeat in my ears.

    I could, in that moment, imagine that I was in a snow-globe. I was a song, a carol, a witness to a silent night filled with peace and contentment. I was cold only because I chose to be cold. And, when I chose again, I could walk back into a warm and welcoming shelter. I was reminded that so many men, women and children do not have that simple luxury.

    Through the windows I could see the rooms of my house glowing with light and warmth. The Christmas tree stood in the corner of the living room, strung with lights and ornamented with family history. The cat was asleep by the fireplace. There was the familiar clutter of books and newspapers and coffee cups. The fragrance of food still hung in the air. It was, at that moment, a place of comfort and joy.

    The dog shook the snow from his coat and brought me back from my thoughts. Together, we walked, taking our time, back through the door leaving the silent night behind.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Atheist tree up on Capitol Campus

OLYMPIA — With little fanfare or complaints, Seattle Atheists have erected a decorated tree and a sign on the Capitol campus in honor of not-Christmas.

A tree? As in, a Christmas Tree?

Not exactly. The group calls it “A Tree of Knowledge” — although it’s  unclear if they’re unaware of the Biblical implications of such a title, or co-opting it.

But their tree looks suspiciously like a Christmas Tree, considering it’s about a 6-foot conifer with decorations hanging from the boughs. No toys or angels or smiley snowmen for the atheists, however. Their decorations consist of pictures of famous scientists like Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, covers for books like “Cosmos” and a small copy of the Periodic Table of Elements. (I know what you’re thinking: These atheists sure know how to trim a tree!)

And, of course there’s a sign. If  you can’t read it on the photo above, it’s reproduced inside the blog.

In case anyone’s wondering, there is no Nativity Scene on the Capitol Campus at this point. The Catholic League was faxed the standard form for campus displays that every group must submit, but the group hasn’t yet responded, Steve Valandra of state General Administration said. So far, the creche remains in the GA vault, awaiting the form or a request to send it back to the league.

Not sure if this qualifies as a salvo in the war on Christmas or not.


It’s Perry Christmas tree time

The Perry Street Cafe is putting on the annual Christmas tree lighting on Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m. Cafe owner Geoff Whtie picks up what he calls “a Charlie Brown tree” every year and invites neighbors to come and decorate it. Just bring an ornament and your’re in. The Perry Street Cafe will serve hot beverages while the decorating is going on. At 6:30 Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the Perry Street Cafe. Also, the Grant Elementary School Holiday Convert begins at 6:30 p.m. and is expected to last for about an hour. Parents and students are welcome at The Perry Street Cafe after the concert is over - Santa Claus will still be there, waiting for you. Then, at 7:45 p.m., a group of neighbors will go caroling in the South Perry District. The South Perry Business and Neighborhood Association is also supporting this event.
Do bring a toy for Toys For Tots - collection bins are located at the Perry Street Cafe - or a pair of boots or warm socks for the South Perry Sock Drive to benefit students at Grant Elementary School. 

Christmas tree lighting a week from today

Come one and come all on Tuesday Dec. 14 and gather at 6:30 p.m. outside the Perry Street Cafe. Sing a few carols, hang out with your neighbors and come inside the cafe for hot cider, chocolate and coffee. Bring a donation for the Perry Sock drive (socks, hats, scarves and mittens for the students at Grant) or a toy for Toys For Tots.