Sunday, November 26, 2006


I remember one year, I must have been about 11, I made up a calendar that started in August and had something fun to do to get ready for the Winter holidays for every single day. When I say "Winter holidays" I mean: Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia Day, Winter Solstice, Hannukah, Christmas, Three Kings Day and New Year's Day. That is a whole lot of celebrating.

Madison, Wisconsin is the southernmost place I have ever lived. We have lived here for 10 years now and I still can't get used to not having snow in September! I love the dark, the dreary skies and the cold temperatures. For me, this is a time of year to recuperate, create and share. All of the aforementioned holidays have a wonderful story attached to them. Stories of generousity and hope and the triumph of the human spirit--this time of year renews me for the other 9 months!

Our first significant decorations go up the Friday after Thanksgiving. The decorations are made out of egg cartons and glitter and old costume jewelry, plastic farm animals, crumpled tinfoil and wire nuts. These amazing ornaments were made by my grandpa in 1971 for the winter wedding of my parents. They got married on December 28th and the church was going to have stripped their tree. My grandpa worked for months on these wacky decorations so that they would have a beautiful wedding. If you knew my grandpa you would realize how absolutely crazy it is that he made these ornaments. The mere thought of this man surrounded by glitter is enough to make even the worst humbug crack a grin. A couple years before he died I got my hands on a few of these ornaments. I have always loved them although everyone else in the family had thought them tacky. I put them on our ceiling and called my grandpa. "You did what with them?" He asked incredulously. I could hear him smiling on the phone and could imagine his guffaw when he got my emailed pictures. My grandpa died three years ago this February. When he died I took ALL the egg carton ornaments. We hung 164 of them this year, that is about 1/3 the total. All my craftiness and good deal of my cooking know-how I got from my grandma. She died when I was seven. I absorbed it all before then. I owe so much fof who I am to them and I celebrate and remember when the egg cartons go up.

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