Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Dec. 6, 2013

Moving on

I have a hard time bidding good-bye to Thanksgiving. While most people I know have begun - or are already done - decorating for Christmas, our dining table is still cluttered with serving bowls and platters, a centerpiece of mini-pumpkins and gourds, turkey-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers and a painted clay turkey from Mexico. Our daughters' hand-made turkeys from their grade school days are still hanging on our louvered doors. I can't bear to throw out the pumpkins and colorful gourds I collected at a local nursery before Halloween. I know I should just "let them go," but every night when I hear that the temperature might go below freezing, I bring them inside. I suppose I could paint them silver and gold so they'd be more Christmas-y and keep them another month ... or more.

I have made some progress, though. I washed, dried and folded the Thanksgiving tablecloths, napkins and place mats. I finally put the turkey roasting pan and coffee maker away. And I'm at least thinking about beginning my Christmas decorating this coming weekend.

Every year, I ponder why I drag my feet when it comes to moving along into the new holiday season. It's probably a combination of several things: I'm stubborn and I don't really want to "go with the flow" of what everyone else is doing; I'm an introvert and it takes me awhile to switch gears from one thing to another; I'm tired and just don't want to think about it; it's just not as much fun as it used to be when our daughters Mariya and Katie were living at home.

I have a feeling the last one is what really gets to me. When Mariya and Katie were little, they always got me into the holiday spirit. They decorated their bedrooms, putting up their own little Christmas trees, hanging silver and gold garlands from their windows and doors, and adding holiday touches to their dollhouses.

They brought home from school hand-made ornaments and wreaths made from plastic bags and they helped bake and decorate cookies. They even put up with holiday crafting ideas I found in magazines - cutting out and weaving together green patterns of their hands to form wreaths; putting together a felt/cork/pipe cleaner nativity set; making snow people of white socks stuffed with lentil beans... Oh, yes, those were the days!

But, as husband Art says, these are now our days and we need to realize that the girls have their own lives. They spent a lot of last weekend decorating their own apartments for Christmas - putting up their trees, hanging lights around their windows, adding other holiday touches here and there. Katie said her place had experienced a "Christmas explosion."

Art also likes to delay the onset of the Christmas season, but for a very different reason. His dad Tom had the contract to haul the mail between the trains and the post office, and around Thanksgiving, the mail volume grew dramatically. Often Tom and the men who worked for him labored longer hours. On very heavy days, Art helped out.

Art's grandfather handled Christmas trees and from Thanksgiving on, there would be trips into northern Wisconsin for trees. Members of the family received free trees, but had to wait until the "good ones" were sold. So their trees never went up earlier than a week before Christmas. That was okay with Art's mom, who was not into "house beautiful." She was happy when Art took over decorating the tree.

But this all fits well with another of Art's quirks. He frequently mentions that he enjoys reflecting on good times more than anticipating them. So after he's produced the Thanksgiving meal, he feels it is time to sit back and leisurely reflect on the day and enjoy the leftovers. Christmas is the same. His growing-up experiences cause him to see the days before as a busy time, but the time after as a time to relax and enjoy what has transpired.

So, I guess it all works out. I'm slow to let go and he likes the time after the holiday better than the time before. Marriage often requires compromising, but none is needed in this area.

Mariya, age 9, left, and Katie, age 3, with their Christmas decorations.

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