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OPINION: A precise time to decorate for Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the Woster household is decorating for Christmas. Yeah, we're stubborn that way. We aren't completely post-Thanksgiving-means-think-Christmas people. For example, Nancy has picked up a few gifts, and we've talked...

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the Woster household is decorating for Christmas.

Yeah, we're stubborn that way. We aren't completely post-Thanksgiving-means-think-Christmas people. For example, Nancy has picked up a few gifts, and we've talked about others. But the turkeys and pilgrims stay out until after Thanksgiving, and we haven't dialed in any holiday music channels yet.

We aren't making a political statement. We've always waited until after Thanksgiving to start Christmas. (OK, as a kid, I grabbed the Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog the minute it showed up at our mailbox back on the farm. But that was about Thanksgiving time, I think, and besides, we had to give Santa time to get our order and plan his deliveries to our farm neighborhood.)

Our first Christmas together, 1967, we put up a tree shortly before Christmas. We didn't have money in the budget any sooner, but we wouldn't have rushed the season, anyway. Nobody rushed the season back then. It was a very big deal after Thanksgiving to go downtown and see the stores with their just-decorated-for-Christmas display windows. Besides, it cost nothing to walk the downtown streets and shop the windows.

We were both paying off college loans that first Christmas together. We had an infant daughter in a crib in the corner and a bill from McKennan on the side table. The tree stood in the corner of the front room. Nancy must have brought a few ornaments to the marriage, because we had some on the tree and they sure weren't mine. I guess we bought a string of lights and a star for the top, although I don't remember that. I know we got the tree at Lewis Drug. We had a portable record player, a two-record set of Christmas songs by various artists and "The Andy Williams Christmas Album." That was plenty.

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Over the years, especially after we moved to a house in Pierre with two stories and a wide, wrap-around front porch to decorate, we collected more ornaments and more decorations, and we found more and more places to decorate. A set of luminaries fit perfectly on the porch rail, and the porch swing held a Santa and Mrs. Claus set. The process of bringing out the Christmas decorations became more and more involved, because the holiday stuff filled one upstairs closet, a shelf in the furnace room and a section of rafters in the garage. It took a full weekend to decorate. Even so, we started only after Thanksgiving. Yes, immediately after Thanksgiving, sometimes with left-overs in the fridge while we were upstairs hauling boxes from the closet.

In the early days, whether in Sioux Falls or Pierre, we always did the family visit to the tree lot and came home with live trees. Our trees always dried out, no matter what we tried. After several years of worrying about setting the house on fire before Santa showed up, we went artificial with our tree. I think the marketing term is more like "permanent." For the last several years, we've had a nine-foot tree, one capable of holding many, many ornaments and lights. The angel at the top touched the ceiling of the living room.

However, we no longer have that home. The new place is great, but it's less than half the size of the old place (downsizing was the point, remember?) and the ceilings are, what, eight feet?

We're standing here looking at our boxes of Christmas decorations and wondering what to do first. The luminaries stayed with the old house. They were meant to be there. The rest of this stuff? A step at a time.

Nancy said the ceiling is too low for the tree. I said we could saw a foot or so off the top of the tree. Nancy said that might look silly. I said we could paint a black circle where the tree hits the ceiling and make it look as if we sawed a hole and ran the top of the tree through to the next level. We are conflicted.

At this rate, we might still be decorating for this Christmas next Thanksgiving.

Related Topics: CHRISTMASTERRY WOSTER
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