Another Day in the Country
Getting in the spirit
© Another Day in the Country
We were exhausted, having spent a day in Salina running errands. It’s what we call a hunting and gathering expedition. It wasn’t really intended as shopping because of the to-do list Jess had in her pocket, but it turned out to be fun.
Living in the country, we try to be efficient on our trips into town, assembling a list of things to be done so we can accomplish a lot when venturing 30 or 40 miles from home.
For Abilene, the list includes “go to the library,” “get groceries,” “exercise,” and “get gas” at minimum.
For Salina, the list expands with things like “get chicken food,” “order new glasses,” and “check office supplies.” We often eat out at a favorite restaurant or go to a movie at the Art Center Cinema before we head home.
All of this makes for a big day, and we were happy to be done and heading back towards Ramona.
“You know,” my sister said wearily, “I don’t think I’m even going to decorate for Christmas this year.”
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. She’s always big on decorating for every season — as I am, usually, though we’d just come through an eventful Thanksgiving affair that took extra energy.
“For sure, I’m not doing a tree this year,” I said, “at least indoors. Maybe this is the year to decorate the Charlie Brown tree in the front yard.”
Since my mother wanted that tree planted in her front yard, it’s been a pain in my neck.
First, it wasn’t the kind of tree she thought it was going to be — a tall, elegant, evergreen with sweeping, graceful branches. It’s a crooked, weeping tree that won’t grow up straight even after I for years inserted poles to strengthen its backbone. I finally gave up when its height exceeded my reach.
For years, I told my kids that the first year they all came to Ramona for Christmas, I would cut down the tree and bring it indoors for our Christmas tree. But they never came. At least, they never came on Christmas Day; that was the bargain. I always ended up going to California for the holidays.
This year, for whom would I be doing Christmas decorations, anyway? We just had a bigger than ever holiday for Thanksgiving, and it doesn’t seem all that long before I’ll be heading to California.
That was the tone of the conversation all the way home.
I dropped her at her door and proceeded to my house to unload groceries and Christmas gifts I’d found.
Then, I got a text from Jess: “I decided to get out the Christmas decorations. You can come over if you want. I’ve got carols playing.”
That didn’t take long for her to get into the spirit” I said to myself as I walked across the road and through the crop circles in her backyard.
On the way, I noticed our neighbor had some Christmas lights up. He’s often the first in our end of town.
It was beginning to happen — these silent messages of peace and goodwill that we send out to everyone in general as we hang up Christmas lights and decorate our trees.
Those lights beam hopefulness and loving kindness to loved ones and strangers equally.
Christmas carols were playing as I watched my sister picking up figurines and special dishes, table arrangements, and ornaments.
She already had a tree decorated by the time I got there, but where should the Santa go?
Would these poinsettias be pretty on the table or the china cupboard?
I sat listening to the music while my little sister filled her environment with beauty and Christmas joy. Her living room looked like a Christmas card.
I came back home that night and started toting in boxes of Christmas decorations from the garage.
Which ones will I use this year? All these decorations deserved to be seen again after a year of hibernating. Well, maybe not all, but at least some of them.
I knew I couldn’t go three more weeks into December without putting up Christmas decorations.
Over the weekend, we decorated that crooked tree in the front yard. I bought a whole lot of red plastic baubles on sale last year. Now was the time to use them. Up went the lights. On went the timers. Now I’m starting on indoors.
It’s so much fun seeing the Santa Clause figurines I’ve collected come out of storage. They are like old friends. Some of these decorations date back 30, 40 years.
I remember the year we all got angel figurines for Christmas — even the ones who weren’t all that angelic.
And here was the family of wild geese dressed up in Christmas finery. Where should I put them this year?
The holidays are a marker in time, time that we’ve spent together, on another day in the country.