The Carrolls, who once raised cattle, decided three decades ago to raise Christmas trees instead. The trees take seven to 12 years to mature. Courtesy of Claybrooke Farm hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Claybrooke Farm

Around the Nation

Christmas Tree Farmers Invest Long-Term In The Holiday Spirit

Americans buy 25 million Christmas trees every year. They are slow-growing crops, but the trees can be a smart investment for small farmers like the Carroll family in Louisa, Va.

Pope Francis salutes the faithful during a meeting with members of the Pope John XXIII Community association in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on Dec. 20. The first pope from the global south wants to reshape the church for the contemporary world. L'Osservatore Romano via AP hide caption

itoggle caption L'Osservatore Romano via AP

Parallels - World News

Pope Francis And His Gift For Blending The Spiritual And The Political

Despite detractors within the church, the pope's emphasis on humility and mercy has won him strong support worldwide. He has addressed thorny issues such as the Vatican's finances and clerical sex abuse.

A poster for The Interview, which will open in nearly 300 theaters on Christmas Day. The movie is also being shown on streaming services. Jim Ruymen/UPI/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Jim Ruymen/UPI/Landov

The Two-Way - News Blog

'The Interview' Gets Nationwide Theatrical Release

Nearly 300 independent theaters are showing the comedy, which Sony Pictures had originally pulled following threats. The studio is also streaming the movie on services such as YouTube.

British and German soldiers fraternizing at Ploegsteert, Belgium, on Christmas Day 1914. World War I was raging at the time, but front-line troops initiated the truce, which they documented in photos and letters. Commanders on both sides were furious when they learned of it. Courtesy of Imperial War Museum hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Imperial War Museum

Parallels - World News

A Century Ago, When The Guns Fell Silent On Christmas

World War I had just begun and the battles were blazing in the winter of 1914. But on Christmas Eve, something strange and unexpected happened. The soldiers in the trenches decided to call a truce.

Need a gift for a 20-something kid about to age out of the family's health plan? Juana Rivera (left) discusses insurance options with Fabrizzio Russi, an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of the Americas in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Shots - Health News

Would You Like Health Insurance With Those Stocking Stuffers? KQED

While shoppers rush to the mall to pick up the last neckties and Transformers for Christmas, health officials are trying to pitch them on an unconventional gift this holiday season: health insurance.

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