Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Perfectly Prepared for Christmas

The tree is up and decorated in our downstairs walk-out family room. Left-over pies from Thanksgiving were thawed for Gerry, who could not be here that holiday. Final Christmas cards are in the mail, the ones I did not have an address for. In the old days, one could look in the phone book for local addresses, and that is what I did unsuccessfully in this day of cell phones. It finally dawned on me that I could look up addresses on the Internet, so I did. I even got the bags of plastic bags to the Salvation Army store since they appreciate them especially during this busy buying season.

I made a quick decision last Friday not to put up the living room tree this year. I planned to, but suddenly the thought of not having to unearth it and all its decorations sounded good to me. Then, best of all, the thought of not having to take it back down and store everything again sounded even better. So in a weak moment, I made the decision; and for the first time in 15 years, there is no tree in the living room in this house. Yes, I miss it a bit, and I am resolving to be better organized next year. On the other hand, maybe this is a fine new tradition.

Reading the latest issue of Springhouse, my favorite regional magazine, I had changing emotions when I read my friend Dixie Terry's usual column. First I was mad at myself. Then I decided I was angry at Dixie for making me mad at myself. Then I corrected that thought knowing I was just jealous. Then I found myself amazed and admiring her extreme competence even though I have always considered her a very talented person who seems to do more than any one person could.

She had me going all right until I came to her punch line after she had described the beautiful decorations, the completed baking, and all the Christmas preparations she had accomplished early in December. While I was still shaking my head and telling myself that I could surely do a little better if I started earlier next year, her next phrase stopped my whirling brain: “IN MY DREAMS,” she said. Ah well. That was better. I am sure her house is more decorated than mine and that she really has done all kinds of food making, none of which I have done. Nevertheless, the perfect preparation she described was only in her dreams! Now she could still be my friend!! It was that perfection we all only dream about that had made her untouchable and unreal. Thanks for the laugh, Dixie—something you have often made me do when you have written about your busy life.

Another fascinating Springhouse article was about Mark Motsinger, whose father Virgil received the Crab Orchard High School Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 after an outstanding coaching career at Southeaster Illinois College. Mark's grandparents were the late “Copper” and Irene Motsinger in our village. Mark is now teaching history in the high school at Carrier Mills, but back in 2000 after a successful 16-year career coaching the Lady Falcons, he was one of several people laid off at SIC, and he spent the next year teaching in a Christian school in Senegal. On weekends he helped out in a nearby village, where he actually bought land and helped establish a church. He experienced much we don't see in Crab Orchard. If you don't already subscribe, you might want to pick up a copy at some area businesss who handle the magazine, or just subscribe for $35 to Springhouse, 8250 Level Hill Road, Junction, IL 62954. If you ask for the current issue with Mark's story, I bet Brian DeNeal would send it to you.

I am also reading the new local book my brother Jim and his wife Vivian sent me: The Law and Judge Lynch: 200 years of murder in Johnson County, Illinois by Ed and Diane Annable. They had received a copy before I knew about the book because Diane is is Vivian's niece. An interesting good pick-up-and-put-down book, it is quite revealing of past times and attitudes. I have read a couple other books recently in addition to finishing the second volume of Lawrance Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. (I had recently re-read the first volume, and now I am on the third.) So I have had time to read even if I did not feel I had time to put up a second Christmas tree. But then, of course, I can read sitting down. (It feels good to have some time to read lately, except I am likely to fall asleep in my chair.)

Gerald and I also took time to go see the annual musical at the Marion Civic Center last weekend. I so enjoyed the beautiful music, the many quickly alternating attractive sets, and the brightly colored costumes as well as finding out what Tiny Tim did after he became an adult. What a great gift to our community from the First Baptist Church! We appreciated the Saturday matinee, so we could still get home early. It was pouring so hard when we got out that we changed our plans to eat in town. We did not even want to go through a drive-in with wind blowing rain inside the car. As it turned out, we had three grandkids drop by who have all finished final exams and were hanging out together. So we let everyone choose from our supply of frozen sandwiches that we keep on hand, and with the help of the microwave, everyone had a bite to eat.

Our Oregon grandchild, Geri Ann, arrived with her parents Gerry and Vickie from Texas just after midnight Tuesday night. Because of their late arrival, the Glasco breakfast gang very graciously committed to an 8 a.m. breakfast time at the local Cracker Barrel. That was late enough and close enough even I was willing to get up and make it! A dozen of us lingered for way over an hour talking, laughing, and taking photos. Three of us old generation (Gerald, me, and Keith), six of the second generation, two of the third generation, and tiny Gentry (wearing spurs no less) made it a four-generation event. That night the Taylors joined us for a supper of store-bought frozen lasagna and salad—one of the easiest meals I know of.

Since Gerry and Geri Ann are involved in two softball clinics and Vickie is helping with her mother who is recovering from surgery, we are not going to see as much as we'd like of them, but it is nice to have them in and out. Vickie is also busy taking care of her new puppy Gage, who is in Gerald's shop along with Chloey and Chance. She makes sure they are let out to scamper about every few hours. (The Archibalds couldn't come so they are taking care of Nelly.)

Our one tree is twinkling brightly right now while Gerald watches a basketball game. It is not piled with gifts beneath as in the past. I not only went very lightly buying gifts this year, but they were wrapped and mostly sent home with family members either at Thanksgiving or since then. Shopping is a more difficult chore than I want to experience, and I don't like mailing packages either. I have found time recently to do my long-neglected leg exercises that I never should have stopped, and I think I am already walking a bit better. If I keep that up, maybe I will be able to be better organized next Christmas! In the meantime, I am blogging to you and wearing the very bright sequined sweat shirt that Mary Ellen made me many years ago when she was a young single editor down in Tennessee. I always get lots of notice and compliments when I wear it in public. I am looking and feeling festive and am relaxed since I don't have to achieve Dixie and my dreams of perfect preparations.

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