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Friday, Dec. 23, 2022

I know that not all of you reading this will be celebrating this weekend, but for those who are — Merry Christmas! As you finalize plans and make last minute preparations, I’d like to invite you to read a pretty special story today. It’s from a woman named Mithrellas Curtis who has lived for more than a decade at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.

Mithrellas wrote this story herself. It took many hands to bring her story out: We partnered with the Prison Journalism Project, and the essay is part of our First Person Charlottesville series with Charlottesville Inclusive Media. That local partnership includes us, Vinegar Hill Magazine and the In My Humble Opinion talk show.

Mithrellas’ story is about what Christmas means to her while incarcerated. Rather than summarizing her story for you, I’m going to pass the mic, so to speak. This is how Mithrellas begins her story. I have a feeling, once you’ve started reading her words, you’ll want to finish.

A one-story complex with green roofs, pictured with a blue sky and puffy clouds.

“Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright,” I sang softly, harmonizing with my mom and sisters.

About 20 years ago, in Saltville, Virginia, Silmarien, Gwynniel and I sat huddled around our mother on a sagging couch. Even in the dinky apartment, they looked like a trio of angels, bathed in the soft blue glow from the fake, white Christmas tree in our living room.

My sisters and I grew up singing in the Church of Latter Day Saints in Richmond, Kentucky and Sugar Grove United Methodist in Morgantown, several hours west of Richmond. That night we joined our mother, belting out literally every Christmas carol in the book. If I had known that would be the last time I would share those cherished Christmas rituals with them, I might have told them how much I treasured that moment, and all the times we came together to create magic out of thin air.

Read: My 14th Christmas in prison

Doing this work, to bring more perspectives into local news, takes resources! We’re in the last days of our year-end campaign. If you subscribe and haven’t yet contributed, now’s a great time to support local news!

Thank you for getting us $129,000 to our goal! Want to keep helping us get all the way? Share this campaign with a friend or neighbor. It takes a community to build up local news!

Charlottesville Tomorrow is 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For questions about a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA or a gift of stock, contact Michaux Hood at mhood@cvilletomorrow.org.

Of course, after Christmas comes the New Year. That makes this a perfect time to remind you all to get your reusable bags ready! Beginning Jan. 1, both Albemarle County and Charlottesville begin imposing their plastic bag tax. The 5 cent tax will apply at all grocery stories, pharmacies and convenience stores.

A person carries three plastic grocery bags in a parking lot, photo shows just his lower half.
Credit: Tristan Williams/Charlottesville Tomorrow

Ready the reusable bags: City and county will start taxing plastic bags Jan. 1

Also, it’s going to get really cold over the next few days. Multiple agencies have put out information about how to stay safe, here’s some tips from the City of Charlottesville. If you or someone you know is without a place to stay over the weekend, there are a handful of organizations that can help. The Haven, just off the Downtown Mall, is open during the day. PACEM operates a congregate night shelter. So does the Salvation Army.

From now until Jan. 3, we’ll be sharing stories from this year that you might have missed — be sure to open up those emails from our editor-in-chief next week! Our reporters will be resting and celebrating with those they love and I hope you all are doing the same. We’re working hard on our year-end campaign and are still available to answer your questions about how to support us at this crucial time of year. Simply reply to this email.

Personally, I’d like to take this moment to thank each of you for your support and interest this year. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in this newsroom and all you have done in this community. Next year will be even better!

See you in 2023!

Jessie Higgins, managing editor

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Jessie Higgins

I'm Charlottesville Tomorrow's managing editor and health and safety reporter. If there’s something you think we should be investigating, please email me at jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org! And you can follow all the work we do by subscribing to our free newsletter! Hablo español, y quiero mantener a la comunidad hispanohablante informada. Si tienes preguntas o información que debo saber, por favor, envíame un correo electrónico a jhiggins@cvilletomorrow.org.