The prelude to Christmas in this historic small
Virginia foxhunting and racehorse town near
Washington, D.C. has been a panorama of exciting
visual and musical events.
First we had the local joint masters of the hunt --
Jeffrey Blue and Penny Denegre -- on horseback in red
jacket, surrounded by others in hunting regalia, and
their lovely athletic pack of beagle hounds leading
the Christmas parade down Middleburg´s main street. It
was a breathtaking picture shot and published by Dee
Dee Hubbard, editor of Middleburg Eccentric, a feisty
Then there was the traditional annual Christmas
concert at Middleburg's historic Emmanuel Episcopal
Church, led by concertmaster Wendy Oesterling, with
the area's most gifted voices and musicians joining
together with pieces from Handel's Messiah and other
The Middleburg Players, one of the country's best and
renowned amateur troupes, had their Christmas party at
restored Buchanan Hall in Upperville, 10 miles west of
Middleburg up John Singleton Mosby Highway, where
Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and Santa Claus regaled a
packed audience with Christmas songs and witty banter.
As all of us this time of year with Christmas looming,
I´m wrapping presents, listening to traditional
Christmas music, sending out Chrissy cards, making
chicken soup, mince pies, Christmas pudding, and
loving kitchen smells preparing treats that family and
friends will enjoy on December 25.
Middleburg is the town where President John F. Kennedy
and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy rented Glen Ora Farm
to get away from the Nation´s Capital an hour away by
car so Mrs. Kennedy could ride and go hunting in the
nation's premiere foxhunting community -- which People
for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) folks don´t
mention in their trampling of people´s rights to hunt
It´s ironic that Elaine Broadhead, daughter of Mrs.
Raymond Tartiere, who rented Glen Ora Farm to JFK and
Jackie in 1961, has used the farm she inherited from
her parents over the past several years to host a
guerilla warfare training center for the Ruckus
Society folks who show up at all the World Bank
meetings everywhere to stage violent demonstrations
and protests against free enterprise and economic
The Ruckus folks are intolerant of free enterprise and
business generally, even though their wine-sipping
leftist sponsors and supporters (such as Elaine
Broadhead) are rich and live in luxury because of free
enterprise and capitalist business success.
So we have first-hand evidence in this small colonial
community formed before the Revolutionary War --
over-populated by deer who get pranged by cars on all
our roads at huge expense to insurance companies
because of stupid governmental hunting restrictions --
that people eat their own while the fox goes to ground
and escapes the hounds as deer have taken over our
meadows because hunters with rifles are not allowed
Despite a few ideological zealots, Middleburg is a
most friendly, lovely town, where I grew up after
parents moved from England 50 years ago, and it
remains a horse-centered community where people train
their animals and Olympic-oriented riders train and
prepare to ride the circuit that ultimately leads to
selection for the U.S. Equestrian Team and competition
at the Olympic Games.
So as we lead up to Christmas in historic Middleburg,
must visits are to the Fun Shop -- that´s its name --
started by Nancy Allen 50 years ago, where one finds a
huge assortment of gift cards, china, crystal, every
classy product imaginable, lovely clothes -- even
stuff to clean silver. (Howard Allen, Nancy's
professional photographer husband, took some of the
best pictures of JFK and family and Jackie riding
around Middleburg) -- and to Penelope Wisdom's Gallery
on Madison Street, around the corner from Linda
Tripp's Christmas Sleigh near the stop light on the
main road through town, called Washington Street.
At the corner, in the old Middleburg Bank Building, is
an organic butchery owned by Sandy Lerner, clever and
environmentally-committed gazillionaire founder of
Cisco Systems, who raises organic beef, pigs and
vegetables at her nearby Ayeshire Farm and also runs
the Hunter's Head Inn in nearby Upperville -- the
closest thing we have to a real British pub with great
brews, shepherd's pie, bubble-and-squeak, and
I found wonderful horsey and religious Christmas cards
at the Fun Shop and Wisdom Gallery. Then to the local
Post Office next to the Fun Shop to get stamps. They
were out of Madonna and Child stamps for a few days,
so I had to settle for snowflakes. Norris Beavers, the
wonderful Middleburg postmaster, quickly got more
Madonna and Child stamps to meet the huge demand for
religiously-oriented Christmas postage.
Religious faith believers have been victims of
intolerant attacks on religiosity and Christmas by the
leftist American Civil Liberties Union (how´s that for
a name opposite of what they do to deny civil
liberties); People for the American Way (huh?); and
the Rev. Barry Lynn´s Americans for Separation of
Church and State -- which really work to separate
religion from everything possible and attack people of
faith in a most intolerant way.
Ben Stein, highly successful entrepreneur and
broadcaster -- son of the late chairman of the White
House Council of Economic Advisers for Presidents
Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford -- recently wrote in his
"Today´s World" column a marvelous piece that ripped
the secularist anti-Christmas parade:
"Herewith at this happy time of year, a few
confessions from my beating heart: I have no freaking
clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover
of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog
biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at
the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and
Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my
life if I know who they are and why they have broken
up? Why are they so important?
"I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do
not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.
"Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and
asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no
clue who Nick and Jessica are.
"If this is what it means to be no longer young, it's
not so bad.
"Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of
my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me
even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit
up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel
threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's
what they are: Christmas trees.
"It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry
Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me
or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I
kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and
sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It
doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene
on display at a key intersection near my beach house
in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine
with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
"I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew,
and I don't think Christians like getting pushed
around for being Christians. I think people who
believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed
around, period. I have no idea where the concept came
from that "America is an explicitly atheist country. I
can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it
being shoved down my throat.
"Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea
come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and
we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?
"I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.
"But there are a lot of us who are wondering where
Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we
knew went to.
"In light of the many jokes we send to one another for
a laugh, this is a little different: This is not
intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended
to get you thinking.
"Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early
Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let
something like this Happen?" (regarding Katrina).
"Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful
response. She said, "I believe God is deeply saddened
by this, just as we are, but for years we've been
telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of
our government and to get out of our lives.
"And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has
calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us
His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave
"In light of recent events -- terrorists attack,
school shootings, etc., I think it started when
Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body
found recently) complained she didn't want prayer in
our schools, and we said okay.
"Then someone said you better not read the Bible in
school . The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou
shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.
And we said okay.
"Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our
children when they misbehave because their little
personalities would be warped and we might damage
their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide).
We said an expert should know what he's talking about.
And we said okay.
"Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no
conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and
why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their
classmates, and themselves.
"Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough,
we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to
do with "We reap what we sew."
"Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and
then wonder why the world's going to hell.
"Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but
question what the Bible says.
"Funny how you can send "jokes" through email and they
spread like wildfire but when you start sending
messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about
"Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles
pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion
of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
"Are you laughing?
"Funny how when you forward this message, you will not
send it to many on your address list because you're
not sure what they believe, or what they will think of
you for sending it.
"Funny how we can be more worried about what other
people think of us than what God thinks of us.
"Pass it on if you think it has merit. If not then
just discard it. No one will know you did. But, if you
discard this thought process, don't sit back and
complain about what bad shape the world is in."
God bless Ben Stein. Happy Christmas and Happy
Hanukkah to all.