“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,” Max Ehrmann

“Ain’t that good news?” Christmas blessings came early when my grandson Gregory Warren Packer Jr., received his acceptance letter to William and Mary College. I don’t know who is more excited Gregory because he’s going away to college or younger brother Matthew because he’ll be “home alone.”

More good news, Shirley Richmond’s family is excited about the Christmas graduation of grandson Trey Stevenson from UMES with a degree in Restaurant and Hotel Management.

“Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve.  Yuletide excitement is potent caffeine, no matter your age.”  Terri Guillemets?

This holiday season was a whirlwind of Christmas parties starting at the palatial Woodstock home of Ben and Theresa Brooks. The beautifully decorated home was the ideal place for friends, family and colleagues to enjoy the holiday cheer and music provided by son Ben Jr. and Santa’s helper, Patrease Nicholson.

Committee X-71 celebrated their 40th anniversary at their annual Christmas party at Martin’s West. We were the guests of Walter and Jeanette Hairston at the invitation-only party for cocktails and hors d’oeuvre, followed by a sit-down dinner of salmon, prime rib and chicken Oscar. Guests received a crystal ornament to commemorate the occasion from Committee X-71 members, Garfield Allender, George Barrick, Kevin Clark, Vallen Emery, Meredith Evans, Eugene Freeman, John Green, Walter Hairston, Clarence Holman, Robert Payne, Paul Scott, Leonard Smackum, Gerald Smith and Floyd Taliaferro.

The Magnificent 7 celebrated their 25th anniversary at a formal dinner and dance at the World Trade Center. Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Charles “Chuck” Thomas, Jerry Cole III, Shepherd Mc Duffie, Dr. J Laws Nickens Jr., and deceased members Kenneth Wilson and Horace Ashby were initiated into Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in 1986. Special thanks to our hosts Nathaniel and Rachel McFadden for the beautiful Waterford Christmas ornament.

The Pinochle Pals’ Christmas party at the impressive Woodstock home of Dean and Meredith Evans was a holiday hit. “Oh what a night,” “grooving” to the live performance by a cappella group Sweet T and dancing to the music of DJ Lorna Terry.

The 100 Black Men of Maryland hosted their 21st Holiday Brunch featuring the Panama Band to the delight of the young and young-at-heart. The video highlighting the young chefs from Calvin Rodwell School drew a round of applause for the talented students.

“Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me” If Santa forgets call Beverly Glover at Emage Furs 410-256-0032.

“I am not a critic of my country, and this is my country,” Sonia Pierre Haitian activist (RIP)

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake was a “sophisticated lady” dancing and mingling at her inaugural ball at the Baltimore Hilton Hotel. The theme “Baltimore a great place to grow” was apparent throughout the ballroom, with black and white drawings of city landmarks. The artists in white painters garb were reminiscent of a Parisian scene painting the drawings as guests danced to the music of Source. There was an assortment of culinary treats provided by several local restaurants stationed throughout the ballroom. The childhood favorite, grilled cheese with tomato soup was perfect for removing the chill on the rain-drenched day.

Celebration time come on! It’s your anniversary Jackie and Warren Hayman! Happy birthday George Ray III, Julia Hayman, Sheila Dixon, Alvin Bagley, Chaz “Jitter” Graham, Nykidra Robinson and Caprece Garrett.

“What are you doing New Years’ Eve?” Omega man Derek Gourdine’s chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is hosting a New Year’s Eve Gala at Hotel Pier 5, for tickets to this event benefitting their scholarship program call 202-355-2955.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

Condolences to the families of our saints who crossed over; Dr. Delores Baden on the death of her husband Wallace Baden, Ernest Kromah on the death of his mother Mary Cromer, Randy Phipps on the death of his wife Elsie Phipps and to Lillian “Verdell” Cross’ family

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding, as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Max Ehrmann

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.”

My friend Susan Ellison keeps a copy of “Desiderata” visible in her home.

“Suddenly” the words hit me “oops upside my head.” Max wrote Desiderata in 1933 for his friends at Christmas. I wanted to share excerpts with you this holiday season.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Feliz Navidad and Happy New Year.

“May the Lord bless thee, and keep thee.” Number 6:24 “I’ll be seeing” you in 2012. Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch