“Santa Claus, go straight to the ghetto fill every stocking you find, the kids are gonna love you so leave a toy for Johnny, leave a doll for Mary, leave something pretty for Donnie and don’t forget about Gary. Tell him James Brown sent you, huh and go straight to the ghetto. You know that I know what you will see ’cause that was once me”

The 100 Black Men of Maryland’s holiday brunch featuring Panama Band honoring the youth of our community was a gala affair. This organization provides mentoring, scholarships and leadership to young men in the community,

“To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving.”  Max Beerbohm

Guests in attendance donated toys for distribution during Christmas. The highlight was the introduction of The Collegiate 100 of Morgan State University.

The menu of prime rib, roast turkey, and other tasty  entrees was enjoyed by our host state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, and guests Henry and Betty Armwood, John and Pat Howard, Mary Robinson, Barbara Whye, Dee Tarter, Phil Strambler, Jerrelle Francois, Betty Greene, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Roland and  Janet Merritt, Ann Winder, Donel Warfield, Ray Lucas, Gaines Lansey, Pat Tunstall, Shirley Alexander, Carroll Marcus, Dr. Clarence Mills, Winky and Peaches Camphor, and Patricia Branch, escorted by her 10- year- old grandson DaQuan Branch.

EASTSIDE! It’s always great seeing our friend East Side’s Selena Redd make her annual trek to the West Side to support this great event.

“It’s a wonderful life” “on the waterfront” People were “sitting on the dock of the bay” watching the ships in full regalia decorated for the Christmas season “cruising” the Annapolis Harbor.

The boat with the champagne glasses suspended in midair with white lights pouring out of the glasses resembling sparkling champagne as Sinatra played  in  the background was a hit.  After the parade, we stopped at the Chart House to warm up from the chill of the night and were surprised when the manager Chris Allen, former manager of Ruth’s Chris’ Steak House Water Street called my name.  After catching up on the happenings he escorted us to a great table where we could watch the ships sail pass. The historic Chart House used to be a boathouse where they built ships on the water. The view was spectacular when suddenly a thick fog settled in and the view was lost and just as quickly we could see clearly.

“Christmas gift suggestions; to your enemy, forgiveness, to an opponent, tolerance, to a friend, your heart, to a customer, service, to all, charity, to every child, a good example, to yourself, respect.” Oren Arnold

Our hosts Walter and Jeanette Hairston were simply elegant as they welcomed us to the 42nd invitational only Committee X-71 Christmas party at Martin’s West.  Guests enjoyed the “sound of music” as they savored cocktails and hors d’oeuvres of fried oysters, shrimp and  crab cakes, before the sit-down dinner of succulent prime rib, salmon and chicken Oscar in the next ballroom.  The XPD Band played softly in the background during the dinner hour. After dinner, guests adjourned to another ballroom for a magnificent dessert display of gourmet cakes, cookies, ice cream and after-dinner liqueurs. Guests dancing to the music and enjoying the festivities were George Wicks, Pat Hawkins, Debby and Errol Taylor, Tony and Paula Hawkins, Tyrone Qualls, Dr. Charlene Cooper-Boston, Leonard and  Maryellen Smackum, Louis and Carolyn Smackum, Reva and Arthur Lewie, Dr. Marcia Thompson and Pat and Ray Bowen.

“Tis the season” The room overflowed with gifts for the children staying at the Ronald McDonald House at the annual Philanthropix’s Party at Mirage. For admittance to this celebrity party, guests were to bring an unwrapped toy. Everyone was in a giving spirit arriving with three or more toys including bicycles. Special guest was Ravens’ #27 Ray Rice and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

Key Highway was jammed with revelers as partygoers arrived at Little Havana to attend the annual Christmas party on the water. The lively band had guests dancing throughout the large venue and the patio overlooking the harbor

“May the LORD repay you for what you have done.  May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:12

Michele Brown, special assistant to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) called me as I was on my way to the lighting of the Washington Monument, an occasion that symbolizes the start of the Christmas season.  

That call symbolized the true meaning of Christmas.  Michele has been the foster mother for special needs 10-year-old Jessie Taylor for six years.  I knew Michele loved Jessie more than life and occasionally I would ask if she had adopted Jesse. She would grumble and say humph, Jesse bad you take him….

 “You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  Khalil Gibran,

A lump entered my throat when she said, “your boy is being adopted tomorrow,” I choked up and gingerly said by who. Her response “by some crazy woman” we started laughing and crying together over the phone as she tried without succeeding in downplaying the moment.

The lighting of the monument will forever hold a special place because that night I witnessed the miracle of giving. Michele had given a special child the dream of family, “love and happiness.”

“Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” It’s a wonderful life

Praying for Newtown, Conn.

Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch Merry Christmas!