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Countdown to Christmas

By Joan Covell of Flat Rock

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With Christmas less than 10 days away, here’s a pitch to do your last-minute shopping in Rowan County. The merchants need and deserve your support. And, with part of the sales tax going to local government, you could adopt the United Way slogan, “Raised here; stays here; shared here.”

Other Christmas season observations:

• Inspiration and art go hand-in-hand, and a little realism helps. Flat Rock painter Joan Covell won the National Episcopal Church Christmas Card Contest with her painting of a nativity scene. Covell relied on more than Bible stories to create the image. She researched historical images of Bethlehem, drew plant life from photos she took on a trip to Israel, and used sheep from a neighbor’s farm and her own dog as models. So there’s a bit of North Carolina in this little town of Bethlehem.

• Christmas and the end of the (tax) year make this a great time to raise money. If you can do that and treat people to great music at the same time, all the better. Asheville’s annual Christmas Jam held Saturday did just that. Led by former Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes, the jam led to a  $500,000 donation to the Asheville area Habitat for Humanity.

• Music and Rowan Helping Ministries also make a good combination. The last performance of the 10th annual “Christmas Traditions: the Stories and Music of Christmas,” will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at the Meroney Theater on South Main Street. The admission fee is one can of food for Rowan Helping Ministries. Last year the event collected more than 1,700 pounds of food.

• Now, to the less joyful news. The owner of a Maine Christmas tree farm is finding the honor system does not pay. Todd Murphy of Trees to Please says “customers” have stolen about $2,000 worth of trees and wreaths so far this season. The good news is that hundreds of people visit his farm each weekend and do pay. But the exceptions — the Grinches who grab and go — will force him to raise prices.

• Christmas lights set off a house fire in Rowan on Monday, a reminder that the season has its hazards. Christmas tree fires are not common, but they are more likely to be serious, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. And December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. So be careful with your decorations and take note of your fire extinguisher’s location.

Only nine days to go. Let’s make them safe, joyful days.

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