What if you could look back to your saddest childhood Christmas and recall spending that holiday sick and in the hospital? Maybe the experience and the memory would have been sweetened a bit by a visit from the big man himself: Santa Claus.
Contributor Tara McClellan McAndrew writes how Al Eck of Springfield began his jolly portrayal with the idea of entertaining his own grandchildren a number of years ago. That pure and simple goal has grown to include stopping by St. John's Hospital to pay a visit to the wee ones who are not feeling their best at this most wonderful time of the year. Eck dons his cheery costume to give some much-needed smiles to the best among us - kids.
Long before Eck came along, Santa had been making annual visits to ailing kids at St. John's, but it turns out Santa Eck is pretty good at keeping the tradition alive and thriving. Keeping with a holiday feel, contributing writer DiAnne Crown brings us a story on decorating your house for the holidays. Making use of natural materials, adding color and not going broke is a good formula for sprucing up your home.
When we can, we like to tend to your sweet tooth, and in this issue we visit a cupcake artiste. Cafe Moxo's Kayli Loafman, the creative genius behind some of the tastiest treats you'll find anywhere, must see cupcakes in her sleep. They're big and beautiful and festive. If you've tried them, you understand. Chances are, you'll see them in your sleep, too.
We go traveling to sunshine and surf in this SO; it seems like the right time of year for that. Tim Murphy takes us along to South Florida for flamingos, butterflies, Art Deco and a few other surprises. We hit the desert and mountains, too, with Nancy Pistorius as she rescues us from the frozen Illinois tundra for a trip to Tucson. And, we welcome world traveler Keya Bannister as she regales us with tales of Tunisia, faraway and mysterious ... not so, she says, of her warm and welcoming experience in the north of Africa.
SJ-R outdoors editor Chris Young grabs pen and camera and visits an historic little chapel on a hill in a cemetery. There sits an old but limestone-sturdy Gothic-revival place of worship. The hill is Elkhart Hill, one of the highest points in our region, and the little chapel is St. John the Baptist Chapel, the state's only privately owned and operated church. It is beautiful in its spare and straightforward way. Now, at the start of its second century, the place looks more than capable of enduring the years ahead. Young's story and images are worth your time.
Steven Spearie has a freelance piece on the significance and variety of menorahs, some of which are lighthearted and fun. Diane Schlindwein takes us on a tour of an elegant and expansive home not too far from downtown that looks a whole lot more French Country than American Midwest. And, we meet Ruthie Steen, a local woman with a talent for hosting a party and decorating like a professional.We hope to catch your eye with something contained within these pages. We wish you all the best of the season and thank you for spending some time with us.
Story published Friday, December 3, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 7 )