"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
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"Indeed they did," interrupted Father, "but miracles still happen on Christmas Eve."
"And," replied Mother, "do you not remember that only a woman called Mary may put out the candle?"
Patrick said excitedly, "Come on, Kathleen, light the candle! I must go out and make sure the animals have hay for the night. I always like to see the candle burning when I come back from the barn!"
With sparkling eyes, Kathleen slowly and carefully lit the candle. Father watchfully placed the candle in the window.
"Now we will put the bread and jug of milk on the table for any travelers that may need refreshment tonight," said Father. "And, Patrick, remember to leave the door unlatched when you come in, as is the custom on this night."
Patrick went out to take care of the chores in the barn.
The next morning, as the family sleepily came into the kitchen, Patrick hurried to feed the animals.
Kathleen's eyes got huge as she looked at the table."Mother, Father, the bread and milk are gone! And, look! There are fresh roses on the table!"
"What?" asked Mother. "Where in the world did the roses come from? There are no roses anywhere to be found this time of year!"
With wonder in his voice, Father said, "Look, the candle has been put out. And, besides Patrick's, there are tracks in the snow of two people and a donkey."
A minute later, Patrick breathlessly returned to the house."Father, there is a whole barn full of hay! Where did that come from? We had only a few days' worth of feed last night!"
Mother and Father looked at each other with amazement in their eyes."Do you think what I think?" asked Mother.
"It may be," replied Father.
"What do you think?" asked Patrick.
"Only a woman named Mary may put out the Christmas candle. We find fresh roses in the place of our bread and milk. Patrick finds the barn full of hay, and we see footprints in the snow of two people and a donkey. Who do you think came into our home last night?" asked Father.
Kathleen's eyes sparkled as she looked at the roses."Do you think Mary and Joseph were really here?" she asked.
Mother, Father, and Patrick just smiled.
Images: Christmas Roses from All Posters
Ireland's tallest tree
A Douglas Fir at Powerscourt in Co Wicklow has been officially recognised as the tallest tree in Ireland since records began by leading tree expert, Aubrey Fennell. The tree stands at 61.5 metres, or 202 ft, towering above well-known landmarks including Dublin’s Liberty Hall (59.5 metres) and Niagara Falls (51m). It is the first tree to surpass 60m in Ireland and is the seventh-highest tree in Europe. Located along Powerscourt River Walk, the tree is open to the public through annual membership of Powerscourt, and to guests staying at the Powerscourt Hotel. They are very privileged to access glorious woodland trails and Ireland’s own ‘Avenue of Giants’ which rivals all other contenders in Europe.
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March 4, 2011