Captain Stinky Foot

Once upon a time, beside the Caribbean Sea, there lived a young pirate named Stinky Foot. Stinky Foot’s feet smelled bad. Flowers wilted when he walked by.   Stinky Foot’s feet smelled so bad that girls held their noses when he entered a room. Stinky Foot’s feet smelled so bad that tough sailors cried, and fishermen buried their heads in bait buckets. Stinky Foot’s feet smelled so bad that even his own mother would sometimes make him wear shoes to bed and sleep with the window open. Even in the winter! One day Stinky Foot invited Toothless Tina to share his squid sandwich. She told him to go away and not come back until he smelled better. That night Stinky Foot snuck out his window. At the docks he found a leaky boat. Turning his back to the village,...

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The Cure for Grumpiness

The Cure for Grumpiness

Do you ever feel grumpy? Mona the monkey was feeling that way. She didn’t want to cuddle or let her mother pick itchy bugs out of her fur. She didn’t want to play catch-me -if you-can, or jump from tree to tree by the river. Mona was a miserable grump. Sometimes, we get grumpy too and that’s okay. . . if it’s just for a little while. But if we hold onto our grumps they can make us cranky. Cranky leads to crabby, and no one likes to hang around with crabby crabs. Mona’s best friend, Fern, knew the cure for grumpiness. “What you need,” she told Mona, “Is a Whatever.” “What’s a Whatever?” Mona asked with a grumpy frown. “I bet if we look together, we can find one in no time,” said Fern. With a loud sigh, grumbling,...

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Eating a Special Food on New Year’s Day?

Eating a Special Food on New Year’s Day?

by Sandra Merville Hart When I was a little girl, my dad insisted that I eat at least one spoonful of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. It was supposed to bring good luck. I didn’t like them. Eating even a spoonful seemed like a high price to pay for good luck in the new year. Folks from the southern United States eat black-eyed peas on January 1st. Cornbread is another favorite in that section of the country. Eating green, leafy vegetables, supposed to resemble money, bring prosperity. Citizens in Spain eat 12 grapes at midnight. Each grape represents one month of the year. If the fifth and sixth grape taste especially bad, for example, May and June might be a little difficult. Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians—among others—eat pork on New Year’s....

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I’ve Brought Some Corn for Popping

I’ve Brought Some Corn for Popping

by Sandra Merville Hart This line from the beloved Christmas carol “Let it Snow” started me wondering when the tradition of popping corn began. People have known how to pop corn for thousands of years. Ears of popcorn were found in the Bat Cave in New Mexico that are about 4,000 years old. Found in 1948 and 1950, a penny is larger than the smallest of these ears while others are about 2 inches long. Popcorn remnants discovered in Mexico have been dated to around 3600 BC. One-thousand-year-old popcorn kernels found in North Chile still pop. Aztec Indians in the 16th century used popcorn for ceremonial headdresses and necklaces. Young women danced a popcorn dance wearing popcorn garlands on their heads. Pearls or Nonpareil were names that the kernels were sold...

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Oh, Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

Oh, Bring Us a Figgy Pudding

by Sandra Merville Hart We sing the familiar Christmas tune, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” every year. If those early carolers refused to leave until they received a serving, it must be delicious. When did folks originally sing this song? The song is believed to date back to England in the 1500s. Carolers sang to their neighbors with greetings of the season. They hoped wealthy citizens would give them a treat, such as figgy pudding, to thank them for singing to them. The song, “Here We Come A-wassailing,” asked for a drink from rich neighbors’ wassail bowl, an invitation to warm themselves around the fire, and maybe a pork pie. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” specifically requests Figgie Pudding. The tradition of making this dessert at Christmas...

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First Children’s Christmas Party at the White House

First Children’s Christmas Party at the White House

by Sandra Merville Hart President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams didn’t have the warmest of homes at the White House in 1800. Their Pennsylvania Avenue home, built near a swamp, was drafty and cold. Large fires crackled in thirteen fireplaces to warm their home. In 1800, as Christmas approached the President and First Lady decided to host a children’s Christmas party. Their four-year-old granddaughter, Susanna Boylston Adams, lived with them and they wanted to honor her. Greenery was hung to decorate the East Room. Government officials and their children were invited to the party. A small orchestra played while guests munched on cakes and drank punch. They sang Christmas carols and played games. The party was a great success with one exception. One of...

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