The Point Arena Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse on the West coast of the United States. It is located on a sharp promontory in a narrow peninsula, on the northern California coast, close to the small city of Point Arenas (38°57′17″N 123°44′26″W).
The first lighthouse here was built in 1870, but it was severely damaged by the devastating earthquake that struck much of San Francisco and surroundings on April 18, 1906. The lighthouse lies along the tectonic San Andreas Fault, and a new lighthouse was built here to withstand any future earthquakes. The new design featured steel reinforcement rods encased in concrete, and was the first lighthouse to be built in this manner. The new lighthouse began operation on September 15, 1908, nearly 18 months after the quake.
The 115 ft (35 m) cylindrical white concrete tower had a first-order Fresnel lens until 1977, when the lighthouse was automated and a modern rotating light system replaced the original one. In 2008, major renovation work was done at the station and the tower was reopened to visitors in February of 2009. The lighthouse features a small museum, a gift shop and the historic keeper's houses are available as vacation lodging.
The United States Post Office issued its first Christmas stamp in 1962 and since then, the postal service has issued two stamps for the holiday: a religious stamp (typically featuring a Madonna and Child, as portrayed by a medieval artist), and a secular stamp (featuring items such as tree ornaments, evergreens, or nutcrackers).
The 41¢ Christmas stamp issued on October 25, 2007 features an oil-on-panel entitled The Madonna of the Carnation by Milanese painter Bernardino Luini. Dating to around 1515, the painting is now part of the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
In 2006, the chosen painting is attributed to Peruvian artist Ignacio Chacón - an oil-on-canvas painting entitled Madonna and Child with Bird (dating to around 1765). The 39¢ stamp was issued on October 17, 2006 and the original painting is currently on view at the Denver Art Museum.
The 2009 Christmas stamp features Madonna and Sleeping Child, a painting by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi, more commonly known as Sassoferrato. The painting is currently in the collection of Hearst Castle in California. The 44¢ stamp was released on October 20, 2009.