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Published: Sunday, 12/30/2012

COMMENTARY

Christmas is a wrap, but memories are forever

BY MARY ALICE POWELL
BLADE COLUMNIST

The 20-gallon red and green container is standing by ready to be reloaded for another year. Another container may have to be purchased to hold all of the Christmas decorations.

You know how it goes. It’s easy to add things if you hit a good sale or if someone gives you a poinsettia. I don’t like the traditional Christmas flower unless it’s growing wild in Hawaii. It needs a lot of watering attention and dies a horrible death, one petal at a time that falls on the tabletop.

This was the year I had decided not to decorate. The reasoning was sound. You only have to remove and store everything after the holidays. For me, it’s not a matter of showing off any artistic talents for guests because no one ever comes here. Neighbors don’t just drop in as they did in the good old days and I failed to issue special invitations. Besides, cats like things just the way they are. They don’t like change. Geranium, Hemingway, and Lydia are creatures of habit.

But the spirit of the season changed my mind about not decorating.

When two Toledo men came to look at the house last week after seeing the weather-beaten For Sale by Owner sign, one of them remarked, “Oh, you are all decorated for Christmas.” I wanted to say “And why wouldn’t I be?” It’s the perfect old house to put Christmas joy into with an open staircase, a fireplace, and grandma’s sideboard.

I conducted the $1 tour, which is twice as detailed as the 50-cent trek, because they seemed especially interested when they asked for a drink of water to inspect the taste. That was a first as was taking the top off the toilet tank and peering into it to check iron content. They scored the water high. My impression was obviously more than theirs because their sincere thank you when they left to look at four other properties was our last conversation.

My traveling Christmas tree that has had many debuts in Florida motel rooms and bars only made it from the attic to the living room this year. It does look lonely compared to all the attention we got the last two years from people who couldn’t believe my luggage included the little tree under my arm and an electric cord to be sure it would spread joy in the location. Lonely people find each other over Christmas and my little lighted tree helped them connect.

Remembering the origin of decorations as they are placed is part of the fun. The tree was $2 at the closing sale at Especially for You in downtown Adrian. Two days after I put the tree on my best cherry table a card and letter from the shop owner Judy LaPlant, her husband, Jeff, and Judy’s mother, Nancy, arrived from Cave Creek, Ariz. I admire people who can pull up deep roots, as they did in Michigan, and move cross-country. They love Arizona and Cave Creek, even when it’s 112 degrees in August. That’s somewhere near Phoenix and I intend to find out ASAP.

The stuffed snowman on the dining room table was a centerpiece at the annual Brandywine Auction. It is as jolly as the 30, or so, women who work tirelessly to produce the auction that benefits families challenged by hemoglobin needs. It’s like WTOL’s Jerry Anderson, who served as auctioneer, said as he was mustering bids on a handmade wreath, “Little do the people who benefit from this auction realize how hard these ladies have worked to make it happen.” At that, bids grew.

Just as I wasn’t going to decorate this year, I decided to skip sending cards, but that soon changed when Anne Galloway’s card arrived. The Toledo friend’s card arrived on Dec. 1. It is always the first one and a perfect incentive to jump into the holiday mode.

My plans for today include re-reading every card that I received and reflecting on the people, or person, who took the time to send it and studying the photos of the beautiful children included in several cards. Tomorrow I will start putting the decorations away, and Tuesday I will worry how to stay awake until midnight and wish all of you a 2013 with goals and dreams that come true.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com



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