Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The other night, my husband and I caught the end of a sports commentary show. (When the one you were watching on ETV or PBS ends early, you catch the end of a number of odd shows.) One young man on the panel was sporting a very, very wrinkled button-down shirt. Where was his mother?? What was he thinking?  What was the producer thinking? To what depths have our dress codes fallen? 
We all remember flying in ‘the good days’. We dressed for a plane trip as though we were going to church. Not these days, although I imagine it is easier to go through security checks in slip-ons and flip-flops instead of lace-ups. Flying is certainly more comfortable now that we’ve ditched the suits and ties, the panty hose, hats and gloves, and (egad!) the girdles. Now we dress for flying as though we were going to clean the garage. I’m all for comfort these days, but neat, clean, wrinkle-free comfort. 

We all do it when we’re shopping: we cringe at the dirty underwear showing above a droopy pair of jeans, or the grungy grey bra strap showing from under a tank shirt. We wonder if they really, truly believe they look good. Have you received an email about these folks, or visited The People of Walmart website? Oh, do check it out. You will be amazed, you’ll be truly awestruck, you’ll laugh yourself sick!
All this got me to thinking that maybe that wrinkled young man might have just grabbed a shirt from the ironing pile. Perhaps he was just overwhelmed by all the clothes in his closet, and opted to grab and wear ‘old faithful’. It happens to the best of us. While our dress codes have fallen into the depths, our need for clothes has risen to unmanageable heights. Perhaps that guy had so many clothes in his closet that all of them were wrinkled. Nah! That many clothes would act like a press. Relative to the varied sizes of our homes here, I believe the clothes closet space is quite generous. Ah, you disagree?  Ah, you have too many clothes!

I know of some men who are to golf shirts what Imelda Marcos is to shoes.  When you get this many clothes they become a collection, not a wardrobe. You should be displaying the best ones in your living room! Not ready to do that? Well, it’s time to do some judicious editing.  Start with a big plastic bag or two.  All the ousted items are going to get folded and put directly into a bag.  There are several methods for sorting the wheat from the chaff. There’s the old trick of going through the closet and pulling out anything you’ve not worn in a year or two. There’s the ‘three-piles’ method: first pile for old, beyond repair, never liked, too small, too big (this last one never happens to me!), haven’t worn in ages clothing; the second for ‘maybe I can still get some use out of this’ or ‘I’m undecided'; and the third pile for in-style items, classics, must-keep garments.  Perhaps best of all, there’s the spouse method: stand back and let your partner do the gleaning and cleaning out.
If you are sentimentally attached to a piece - and this applies to all our possessions, not just clothes - why not take a picture of it, and then you’ll ‘have’ it forever. Then get it into that big, black plastic bag.  Go back and tackle the undecided stuff.  Be big, be brave, make a decision. Do the same culling in the shoe, jewelry, undergarments, and accessories departments of your wardrobe. The custom-closet ads can be a bit ridiculous: who can get along with just those small collections of clothes? But they do have the right ideas for organizing and protecting your clothes. Once you’ve gotten down to the best of the bunch, treat them to proper hangers and garment covers or bags where necessary; shoe boxes, bags, or racks; drawer liners, maybe even some sachet? You’ll add length to the life of the clothes you do keep.

See that?!  You really do have enough closet space in your house! Makes you start to wonder where else in your life you can use these same tactics.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Here’s an exercise in creative thinking: what will God have for you to see when you get to heaven?  Over the years I’ve thought of things I’d like to see – places to which I’d have love to have traveled, interesting times gone by, and, especially, loved ones when they were little. I’d like to meet people I’ve never met: my Cherokee great-great-grandmother, my husband’s Dad and grandmother; and some folks I only dimly remember from my childhood.

I’d like to see and follow my Mom when she was around ten or twelve.  I see her, and two of my aunts, in some of the school group pictures I’ve kept.  My Mom is the feisty one in the pictures. In one, she and some of the girls are seated on chairs in the front row.  Only my Mother has her elbows resting on the back of the chair, looking right at you with a “oh really, so what!” attitude.  My aunts are all coiffed and curled, My Mom’s hair is in what she called “a boyish bob.”  I’d like to know that kid.

God is going to have pictures for me of my husband as a little boy.  His father was then Captain on a tug boat in New York City’s Erie Basin.  Before he went to school, and as his Dad said, “forgot everything you’ve ever learned,” he often went to work with his Dad; not every day, but often enough to know all the signal flags and horns and lights.  He kept himself safely tethered to the boat, and even had his own set of foul-weather gear made of that old, sticky rubber stuff.
The cook made sure he ate, and sometimes gave him a treat of “boat pudding”, which was bread, sugar, and milk with some coffee for flavor. He tells tales of hardhat divers bringing up star fish and other treasures from the bottom, and of passing fishermen sending over some of their catch.  He remembers returning in the fog, listening for the echo of the boat’s horn, and being told to keep an eye out because he had “younger eyes.”   He must have been very good on the boat; otherwise he’d never have been there as regularly as he was.  Oh, yes! God will have pictures of that for me.

There are few historical events at which I’d like to have been present or have presented in the hereafter for me, especially knowing what I know now, and having seen so many reenactments, accurate or not, on television.  Whenever I think of these occasions, Lincoln at Gettysburg always comes to mind first and I don’t get far beyond that. It astounds me that the main speaker spoke for two hours and Lincoln, so memorably, for just over two minutes, the crowd hardly hearing him at all.
More than seeing a single event, I’d like to see how things were made.   It may seem strange, but rather than seeing these things as they are today, I’d like to see the building, the sculpting of the Buddhas of Bamyian in Afghanistan, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Taj Mahal, the pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, the Nazca lines, and many of the other wonders in our world. I’d like to know about Atlantis: did it exist once?  Did it relate to Noah and the flood? Was Ezekiel’s wheel really an alien space ship? I’d like to see Moses receive the Ten Commandments.  Was the parting of the Red Sea a natural phenomenon?  God’s going to have a big Show-and-Tell for me. 

What will be on your play list?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


In 1892 an early version of the Pledge of Allegiance appeared in The Youth's Companion magazine. It read: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 

I give a silent chuckle when I say our Pledge of Allegiance, any version, because I am reminded of my husband’s hearing one phrase of it as ‘and to the Republic for Richard Stands.’  He also remembers a sign he saw on the way to a scout camp in the mountains: Walter Aviable. Turns out the sign said ‘Water Available.’ 

The same thing happened to us at the bank where I worked for years. The bank president’s secretary wanted the file on Lester Attabush, referred to in a letter to the boss. We looked high and low for hours: couldn’t find it. Finally, in came one of the old bank hands, the one who taught me a debit from a credit and all things financial in between. He took one look at the letter she held and said: “Kathleen, you dummy, it says ‘see letter attached!’” 

Richard Stands=for which it stands, Walter Aviable=Water Available, Lester Attabush=letter attached. These are what are now called ‘mondegreens’, and I’d bet you’ve seen or heard some at one time in your life. Some are misread, but most mondegreens are misheard words. Merriam-Webster’s now lists it as: mondegreen: word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung - from the mishearing in a Scottish ballad of “laid him on the green” as “Lady Mondegreen.” There are websites devoted to mondegreens, even Mondegreen-of-the-Day calendars.  We all know that “there’s a bathroom on the right,” and “gladly the cross-eyed bear” because “A soft dancer turneth away wrath.”

People like mondegreens because they are a laugh at themselves in what they hear or see.  To have a laugh at someone else you can look up spoonerisms.  Most spoonerisms start out as spoken words. The switching of syllables of a set of words, deliberate or accidental, is named after a Reverend Spooner who was prone to using them inadvertently. As a Warden of New College, Oxford, William Archibald Spooner was a prominent man in Victorian England, so his tendency was widely known.  In reference to the reigning Victoria, he is quoted as saying “Let us glaze our rasses to the queer old Dean” - there’s also a mondegreen there if you really listen.  He is also known to have said “It is kisstomery to cuss the bride” and “Mardon me padam, this pie is occupewed.”

Churchill wrote The History of the English Speaking Peoples, often mistakenly referred to as Peeking Speeples, but who wrote Beeping Sleauty? That was Frederick Chase Taylor, better known on the radio as Colonel Stoopnagle. He would tell fairy tales full of spoonerisms, and Hee Haw’s Archie Campbell would later do it on TV. 

Some phrases such as ‘smart feller’ or ‘shining wit’ are deliberately un-spoonerized, and some, such as ‘bass ackwards’, are spoonerized deliberately.  Shame on them!  Getting into spoonerisms, usually the reversal of first letters or syllables, gets you into the reversal of internal ones: British politician Sir Stafford Cripps was once introduced as “Sir Stifford Crapps.”  From “the Duck and Doochess of Windsor” we go to one of the most noted reversal of syllables: radio announcer Harry von Zell, probably to his eternal mortification, after saying it correctly many times during a tribute piece, referred to our 31st President as “Hoobert Heever.” 

Starrel, starrel little twink, how high up you am I think. I’m not under the alfluence of incohol, although some thinkle peep I am. Verbal blunders, imagined in mondegreens or actual in spoonerisms, are always good for a small dose of a medicinal laugh.

(originally posted March 9, 2011)



Now, are we talking inner garments or outer?   I’d think the founders of this awareness month would be the manufacturers of outer garments: pants, trousers, britches, slacks, or any full-length bifurcated garments of that ilk. No matter what month, and it really should be a winter month, it gives writers like me the opportunity to take off on the subject.

Wouldn’t it be better if women wore pants and men skirts? Yes and no. Yes, because, when you think about it, pants would be more protective than skirts for women, and, in the same area, skirts would be safer for men. No, because it just hasn’t worked out that way. 

The cavemen had the right idea, although they didn’t have much choice.  The Romans had the right idea, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and so on. Those men wore flowing robes and thought the pants-wearing peoples were uncivilized. Much of it depended on where you lived.  Flowing clothing was, and still is, worn by men of the southern Mediterranean, the Middle Eastern countries, in India, and around the equatorial regions of the world.  The Vikings wore pants, all the Arctic region’s people, men and women, wear pants. If you live where it snows - unless you are a Scot and in a class all by yourself - the men wear pants. It just chills me to think of the kilt-wearing Scots in the winter in the Highlands.

The earliest known pair of pants, made of wool in a twill plaid weave, was found on the mummy of a Eurasian who died about 3800 years ago in the desert Tarim Basin of western China. There were many civilizations in the classic ages that sported pants, loose or fitted as the fancy and the fashion dictated. Over the centuries, myriad combinations of pants and toga or tunic-like garments were worn. During the Renaissance the pants became hose. The actual pants part became shorter and shorter and almost disappeared.  That led to things like purpoints and codpieces and other subjects I’d rather not touch.  But back to the hose which led back to close-fitting trousers, as the term is preferred by the British-speaking peoples, and then on, with a stop for plus-fours and Knickerbockers, to what is worn today.

Many of our clergy sport gowns or cassocks. Our western politicians and executive businessmen could go back to togas or gowns, but the men who are toiling to keep the world’s physical plant safe, running smoothly, and well supplied, do need them.  Can you get a visual of a fireman or policeman in a toga or a kilt?  What about artisans, farmers, fishermen, or truckers? It would be inconvenient and, surely, downright dangerous for them to sport skirts around the modern tools of their trades. 

Historically, there were few groups of women who wore pants.  I did see a picture of an Amazon woman depicted in pants on a Grecian urn. Until the last half of the last century, pants-wearing women were few and far between. There were some who were miners, and I’d think that many horsewomen would have preferred them. These days, thanks to the likes of pioneers like Katharine Hepburn and all those Rosie-the-Riveters, we women wear them without much comment from the peanut gallery.  We even wear them, all dolled up of course, to all but the most ceremonial occasions. We’d never wear them to a coronation, for example, now would we?

So that wraps it up for pants as outer garments.  Sometime in the future we may touch on pants as under garments - panties, if you will.  It will be a topic we can treat with delicate care, for there is as much of interest in the history of undies as there was with outies.  I’ll have to look up the month.
(originally posted February 4, 2011)


February is National Heart Month.  All seriousness aside, how did we come to have the heart shape?     : it doesn’t look much like the human heart, and it certainly does mean more than just a representation of it.  I won’t bore you with the details, but there are even mathematical formulas for arriving at various heart-shaped curves.  Well, you just know I had to google it!  I tell you, I’ve yet to find a topic on which I can’t find at least a few entries on Google.  Of the thousands of entries, it turns out that almost everything you wanted to know about the topic is available on Symbols.com. The heart shape has been one of the most common symbols in Western culture since before the last Ice Age. Fascinating!! The shape can symbolize romantic love, passion, and strong emotions. The symbol is of significance, always positive, in most major world cultures and religions.

We may laugh at this today, but from the time of the ancient Egyptians, classical scholars thought the heart was the center of reasoning, thought and emotions.  The Egyptian priests, believing the heart to be the seat of the soul, left it in place and discarded the brains of those they were mummifying.  It seems odd because we all realize that we’re thinking from our heads, so why would they disregard the brain.  The brain has made our symbols - but what is the symbol for the brain?  There it is!  The interrogation mark.  Inquiring minds want to know.

I think my first contact with the heart would have been in association with Valentine’s Day.  February was chosen as National Heart Month because we associate the heart with St.Valentine, patron saint of lovers, whose feast day is February 14.  Hearts on the little cards we exchanged in school, heart-shaped doilies, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. (Me, I’d rather have a Whitman’s Sampler so I know just which ones - the caramels -  to pick first.)  I remember a grade school Valentine’s Day party where the table was decorated with lots of pink and red crepe paper: hearts and flowers, table cloth and all.  Someone tipped over a candle, and the whole thing went up in a moment.  Who wouldn’t remember that Valentine’s Day?

Home is Where the Heart is. Have a Heart. Hard Hearted Hannah. Peg o’ My Heart.  Heart and Soul. With a Song in My Heart.   Idioms, expressions, song titles.  Our lives abound with references to the heart.  The symbol shows up every day.   I New York: that rebus started the current trend back in the 70‘s.  New York tourism took a big boost with the clever idea.  Now everyone is trying to get the same boost,  -ing everything from dog breeds to heart-healthy foods.  
From yester-year’s lacey paper hearts and simple expressions of love, we now have a Valentine’s day so commercialized it includes dozens of long-stemmed roses and heart-shaped diamonds, the more money the merrier.  Well, maybe not for all of us - though we can dream, can’t we?

(originally posted February 1, 2011)


Any day is a good day for a hug, but on a cold, late January day, a good, warm hug is more than welcome.  Thus, January 21st is National Hug Day.  We’re talking ‘official’ now: my research tells me that the day is officially recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A hug is one of the best things known to mankind.  Ecologically speaking, its warmth is a renewable source of energy. Psychologically speaking it is a marvelous mood and morale booster.  Physically speaking, we just love the feel of a good, strong hug.

One of my favorite authors is Anne McCaffrey, and I’ve read just about everything she has written.  Unbeknown to me, I waited on her when I was a bank teller back in the early 60’s.  One day I was telling a fellow employee about one of the books I was reading, and she told me that the author was a good customer of ours and had just moved to Ireland.  Every once in a while I think about the opportunities I missed to tell her how much I loved her stories.  She wrote under her maiden name, so I never realize I’d waited on her. In The Ship Who Searched,  a book she co-authored with Mercedes Lackey in 1992, I learned about wonderful Zen Hugs.  These hugs are a relatively little-known phenomenon and should be more widely distributed. 

We are very fond of hugging in our family, and we are very big senders of Zen Hugs. Zen Hugs are “the hugs that you would get, if we were there, if we could hug you, but we aren't, and we can't.”  ‘Zen Hugs’ and ‘I Love You’ end every phone call, every email, and, abbreviated to ZH, every text message.  Every birthday card and every little Post-it gets the Zen Hug finishing touch.  Sometimes we just call them ‘Zenners’.  As holidays or family ‘state occasions’ come due, we anticipate visits from far away family members by counting the ‘sleeps’ until we get ‘real’ hugs. Meanwhile, the Zen variety are just as heartfelt and welcomed.

I think Zen Hugs are wonderful things to explain to children.  They don’t understand the Zen part, and they don’t have to, but they understand hugs and they like the idea that they can get special hugs over the phone. They like to send them too. Zen Hugs are great to send to college students. They are a special tie to home.  Zen Hugs are thoughtful,  inexpensive gifts that mean you really love the recipient. 

For your family living close by, you really should give consideration to giving lots more hugs, especially at this chilly time of year. Why not just stop by for a quick hug? For anyone you love who is further a field, why not start to cultivate Zen Hugs? But beware: they can be habit-forming. 

(originally posted January 21, 2011)


One thing retirees usually have in abundance is time.  Instead of resorting to television when you find yourself with more time on your hands than you now know how to fill, why not try a good read. I’ve still got a Bil Keane’s The Family Circus cartoon from 1992, which shows Billy talking to his sister Dolly: “I’ll tell you the difference between TV, radio and books…TV puts stuff into your mind with pictures and sound. You don’t even have to think….RADIO puts stuff into your mind with just sounds and words. You make up your own pictures…BOOKS are quiet friends! They let you make up your own pictures and sounds. They make you Think.”  

Author Ann Tyler said: "I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.”  Reading is also a way of making other chances.

An abundance of TV channels offer all manner of diversion from fact to fiction, but you can find an even greater selection, tailored to your own interests, at the library. Unlike TV where you have to watch it then or tape it, books work with your own schedule. Here are some suggestions:

If you’d have liked to have had a different job, what would it have been? Read more on the subject.  What sport do you like? Check it out. Whose biography might interest you? Thomas Jefferson, Abba Eban, Benvenuto Cellini, Henry VIII, and Lou Gehrig come to mind.
What books do you wish you’d read when you were younger?  What classics or former best sellers would like to read?  Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Sea, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Exodus, The Color Purple, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Shipping News. You might even have had, even hated, to read a book for an English Class.  You may enjoy reading it again now that there won’t be a quiz.
Whose books have you always wanted to read?  Agatha Christie, Ernest Hemingway, Conan-Doyle, James Michener, Tony Hillerman - they’re all in the library. 
What period in time interests you? The Roaring Twenties? The Renaissance?  Ancient Greece or Rome?  Pick a time - pick any time - and you’ll find a lot to read.  Try a history of an era, such as Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in which events are outlined as factually as possible; or try some historical fiction. I wish we’d been able to read more historical fiction when I was in high school. Because we are allowed to read historical novels like Andersonville and The Red Badge of Courage, I remember more about the Civil War than other periods we studied 
If you would like a little lighter reading there are many historical romances and mysteries, many written in a series. Find a character in a time you like and follow his exploits.  A popular historical series, the Aubrey-Maturin novels were written about characters in the British navy of the early 1800’s. Michael Jecks has written a series of Medieval mysteries that begins with The Last Templar.  Dorothy Dunnett’s characters lived during the Renaissance.

Purchased or borrowed, make the book new to you. Get up from your easy chair, get out, and get a book - or two!  Then, perhaps on a nasty afternoon, get back into your easy chair and get into a good read.
(originally posted January 10, 2011)



You’ve seen those zany adds that asks “What’s in your wallet?” What I want to know is “What’s in your treasure box?” You do have a treasure box, don’t you? Of course you do. Is it an old cigar box, a cookie tin, or an old hat box? Is it a special box that someone made for you? Why do we save the things we do? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? One never knows, do one?

Both my husband and I have treasure boxes of our own. My husband’s, an elegant brass box with the Tokugawa crest on the lid, contains, among other things, a Swan Vesta match box filled with stones he polished, a Cattaraugus pocket knife given to him by a dear friend, his dog tags, a blue-ribboned Boy Scout medal, a few hand-forged cut nails, a Kennedy half dollar, and an ancient pack of Gillette Blue Blades. “Do you have plenty?“ - no, there are only two blades left from the pack of five.
Mine, a wooden box toped with a cross stitch piece done by my daughter-in-law, holds several different whistles, including one from Oscar Mayer Wieners; a sandalwood fan; a boot-shape piece of rock from Les Baux-de-Provence; a red, white, and blue ribbon rosette given to me in Oslo to wear to celebrate Norwegian Independence Day one Setende Mai, the Seventeenth of May; and a palm-size, bird-shape pillow made of green felt. This was my oldest granddaughter’s first sewing project.

Many parents keep boxes of their children’s things: hospital I.D. bracelets, baby booties, a tress from a child’s first haircut, first drawings, report cards. These things mean a lot to a parent, but little, until later years, to a child. Treasure boxes are a great gift for children aged about four or older. Children love little drawers and compartments. A single-layer tackle box is a great starter box for a kid. The partitions can be moved around to suit their whims, and the boxes are practically indestructible. They can fill the little spaces with all sorts of utterly useless things that they just have to keep.

Children take great pleasure in showing off their treasures to any interested grownup, and they like to have grownups return the favor. We keep some neat stuff in what we call the Nature Box. It too is a tackle box, full of shells, rocks, nuts and seeds, pretty feathers, an arrowhead or two, shed snake skins, plus a few dried insects like a big cicada and some little, emerald-green flies. These never cease to fascinate our younger grandchildren.

I get a bit nostalgic when think about the recording Loretta Young made of the story of The Littlest Angel. Now, along with many an old radio show, it can be found online. The end to the charming tale of the Littlest Angel is that his gift, a humble treasure box, containing a butterfly with golden wings, a sky blue bird’s egg, two white stones, and his beloved dog’s collar, became the shining star of Bethlehem.

(originally entered December 8, 2010)



National Stress-Free Holiday Month - is there such a thing as a stress-free December? Many families have begun to simplify the whole process in several ways, some of which might work for your own family.

An introduction to my first article might be in order here.  This is an article I wrote in response to what I see as the often hectic, even manic, process of getting ready for Christmas - here politically correctly referred to as 'the holidays'.  It really shouldn't be so stressful that once the big day arrives you are ready to collapse. Over the years I've managed to streamline things for myself, and I offer a hint or two to help make the season easier, if not brighter for Seniors - for everybody.

First category on our lists: Gifts! I’m sure that if you are at the base of a very large family tree you are having a hard time just thinking of suitable gifts for everyone on those branches and twigs, much less going out to buy, and then wrap and, perhaps, mail the gifts. It’s no longer fun when it becomes a chore or when the monetary end of it gets out of hand.  Some families stop giving gifts to those married or over twenty-one, those no longer children. In some families they do a grab bag swap, in others the adult exchange gifts under a certain dollar amount. Many families have eliminated gifts for all but those in their own households - after all, is it great fun to open them - and they make instead a nice charitable contribution in the name of the family.

Next: Holiday Cards. Many folks streamline the card process by having them printed with their names, and then use printed labels for the addresses. Good for them! Good for me! I then can streamline my own list by eliminating them from it. When you care to send the very least, without even a hand-written “Hi, how are you?”, it says to me that we must not mean too much to each other. Cards are one of my favorite parts of the holidays. I make, write and address them all by hand, so I am less than appreciative of the shortcuts.
Then there are those almost ubiquitous holiday letters. I read this recently: “Holiday letters are a lot like fruitcake. People either love them or hate them.” Too true! I can love ‘em or hate ‘em, depending on how well they’re done. I’ve retired friends who are great travelers and who send letters filled with wonderful pictures and highlights of their experiences. I’ve other retired friends who regale their readers with pages of the minutiae of their own, their children’s, and grandchildren’s daily lives - boring, to be truthful. Can you guess which ones I keep and which I toss right out? 

Cards or letters, you can make life easier for yourself by tackling the job early - everything begins in January. Update your card list early in the new year (be ruthless!), then save money by buying your cards at the January sales. Begin working on your holiday letter as the newsworthy events occur. Start writing the cards and wrapping up the holiday letter just after Thanksgiving. Sounds easy and, when you start early and stick to it, it is.

Here’s a good topic: Decorations. To do or over-do, that is up to you. When we moved to Sun City, though our house here is bigger, it was the perfect opportunity to cut down on the ornamentation. I passed on their favorite ornaments to our children, and gave away a lot of the extraneous décor. What I kept, for indoors and out, now fits in three 14-gallon totes. This year I may decide to pare down even further, using more fresh flowers because they don’t require future storage! It can be counterproductive to use all your decorative pieces just because you always have. Pass most of them down, cull out a lot, and cherish the very best of the rest. It’s always fun to pull out the decorations, saying hello to old favorites. It’s less fun to have to take everything down, dust it all off, find the right boxes, and pack it up again. Revel in the simplicity of minimal décor and less to store! Oh - that rhymes!

Last, but not least in our hearts: Food!! Are you still cooking the whole meal from soup to nuts? You are either a glutton for punishment or a control freak. Let some of the younger generation start to hone their culinary skills. Pass the torch, and then promise to bring along your specialty - the family favorite appetizer, zesty carrots, or praline pumpkin pie. How’s that for stress-free!?
Many families are choosing to have their major holiday feast cooked by others. Some have it catered and brought to the house - a great idea, but there is still the clean-up to be done. Others go all out and go out. Many like to have a festive restaurant meal on the night before, then rest and recuperate and open some presents the next day. Many must have the main meal on the main day. Either way, you can use Google to search for restaurants in our area that will be open on the various holidays. This is the least work, the least worry all ‘round.

December is a month for all - enjoy all thirty-one days! You can do it!
(originally entered December 5, 2010)