Category Archives: Kate Loves…

The Season of Lists

Old St. Nick has one, and so do I. His list deals with who is “Naughty” or “Nice”.  Mine is my own form of self-torture that I’ve honed over the years.  All of the “should-do’s” and “have-to-definitely-do’s” are on it.  Christmas decorating, baking, gift buying, and the dreaded Christmas card conundrum.

I love the whole experience of decorating for Christmas, and I’ve cut back on how much I’ve decorated over the years.  At one time, I had ten Christmas trees with different themes in various sizes throughout the interior and exterior of our home.  Now I am down to one medium-sized artificial tree and four miniature trees.  I used to have a minimum of one tree in each of the main rooms of the house, each bedroom and in the upstairs hall.  Now the trees are in the living room and on the front porch.

My SantaIMG_5491 collecting days are over, and I’m content to limit its total number to thirty Santas.  It’s not the largest Santa collection — I knew a woman who had over 1,000 Santas, but it is enough for my home.  I’m not one for a lot of outdoor lighting either (in the whole Clark Griswold of Christmas Vacation movie fame kind of illumination), but prefer a single candle in each window.

When my sons were little, we’d bake cut-out sugar cookies and gingerbread people decorating them with lots of colorful icing and sprinkles.  The mess in the kitchen was worth the fun.  Afterwards, I’d play some Christmas CD’s, we’d drink hot chocolate with plenty of mini marshmallows floating on top and decorate the largest tree together.

This year I’m almost finished with my Christmas gift list, having a few stocking stuffer items to purchase and a couple hard-to-buy-for people yet on my list.

So, what’s on the agenda now?  The dreaded Christmas card list.  Should I write a chatty newsletter to the people I know, make my own cards with my scrapbooking expertise or send off to a company for a photo greeting card?  Frankly, I did the fail-safe option and bought a couple boxes of old-fashioned Christmas cards.  Despite my card choice, the newsletter dilemma is still looming over me.

It is so easy to get caught up in all of the tasks and lists insteadimg_5352 of enjoying the finer moments this time of year offers to us–Christmas caroling, holiday parties, Secret Santas, watching the little ones as they sit on Santa’s lap or unwrap their gifts.  The wonderful Christmas stories and movies I enjoy year after year.  Eggnog! (It gets its own sentence, LOL!)  Midnight masses crowded with parishioners, the choir’s voices reverberating through the church, and participating in the sacred traditions with millions of people around the world.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday season.  Just try to remember the simple pleasures and try not to worry about the lists.

 

 

Small Town Holidays

I love living in the tiny village along the Mississippi that I’ve called home for over twenty years!

I don’t miss the traffic, the noise and the lines found in larger cities.  I can walk through our streets without feeling threatened anytime day or night.  I get to soak up the beauty of my surroundings without driving anywhere.  In fact, I can walk from one end of the village to the other a couple times without tiring.

Thanksgiving weekend is a popular one here.  The population increases dramatically as all of the children and grandchildren return for the holidays.  Not only is it the start of deer hunting in the area, but there is an alumni basketball tournament at the school over the weekend.

My oldest son has played in it since he graduated, and it has been a tradition for over a decade.  The players reunite with their high school teammates to play against both younger and older teams.  Generations of family members come to cheer on the teams.  At halftime break of each game, the court overflows with children dribbling basketballs and shooting hoops until the teams return for the second half.

I sit in the stands greeting the mothers and fathers of my son’s team.  It’s a bit of deja vu from days past when our high schoolers ran up and down the court.  Our hair has more silver and our faces a few more lines now, but the enthusiasm and goodwill are still abundant.

In the evening, a Christmas parade with lighted floats, fire trucks, horses, music and Santa is followed by fireworks over the Mississippi River.  It is a fitting end to our weekend.

I saw a post the other day where someone wrote that they didn’t understand why Americans had a “day” of Thanksgiving.  The tradition is one of being thankful for the harvest, especially in the rural communities so dependent on a good harvest before the long winter.  It is also an acknowledgment of our country’s early beginnings, and how the generosity of the local Native American tribespeople helped the early settlers survive their first winter.

But, Thanksgiving is about more than remembering to give “Thanks” on one specific day.  For me, it is a time for gathering as a family and a community.  It is a time to realize the shared blessings of being a part of something so much larger than yourself.  It is a time to reinforce the importance of giving of my time, talents and resources to those less fortunate and to those I care about.

Our small town holiday weekend reminds me of what is good in the world and how crucial it is to be an active participant in the world around me.  To recognize and speak out against inequality and injustice while doing my best to be a positive force in the world.

This work doesn’t happen on just one day, but every day.  It all starts with you, your family and your community.  Make efforts to improve each of these areas and the blessings will continue to spread.