Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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November 26, 2012

Cathie Shaffer: Time is slipping away: 11/27/12

GREENUP — Twenty-eight shopping days until Christmas.

Or so an e-mail message told me yesterday. Well, it was 29 when I got the e-mail but even with my limited math skills, I know we’re 24 hours closer to the Big Day.

While I start to freak out about all things that absolutely must happen before we can celebrate Christmas, there are children out there breathlessly anticipating the turning of the calendar page so Santa’s arrival is one day closer.

As a realist, I know that the world will not end if the tree doesn’t go up until Christmas Eve, my holiday village never gets unpacked and all my friends and relatives get gift cards from the local gas station rather than gifts I carefully selected for each of them.

As a traditionalist, I absolutely cannot allow any of those things to happen. As soon as Thanksgiving was over I began rearranging my living room to accommodate the tree — which will have only plastic ornaments, thanks to the kittens — and trying to decide where to hide the presents from snoopy eyes this year.

The world may be going to wrack and ruin

around us, but doggone it, it’s the holidays. Saturday, after loading up on doughnuts and coffee, the church choir I’m part of will have its final rehearsal for Sunday morning’s special service.

Are there things to worry about there?

Sure.

The sound system, of course, and whether any of the speakers get stage fright at the last minute. And of course, since the children are singing two numbers, there is always the concern that either none of them will sing or they’ll all sing loud and off-key.

Not that it matters. No matter what they do, little children in red robes singing “Away in the Manger” are just plain cute.

I’ve already begun chastising the dog when she acts up with “Santa doesn’t bring presents to bad girls.” I swear she knows what that means because it always brings a positive change in her behavior.

Although I was blitzed with emails promoting first Thanksgiving Day sales, then Black Friday specials and finally Cyber Monday, I kept my weekend shopping to a minimum. I like doing it to closer to Christmas, when the season is at its fullest.

My dearly departed Hubby had two traditions: outlining the eaves with strings of lights and putting his gift buying off until Christmas Eve.

Inevitably, he’d find new lights for the porch each year. We’ve had chase lights with multiple patterns, strings that offer a dozen repeating Christmas tunes and a string of pearl lights that were bright enough to make our street a landing strip.

Since ladders and I have an unpleasant relationship, the lights will be along the porch rail this year, just plain old lights that twinkle. There will be no inflatables, no giant wooden Santas, no discs shining scenes against the side of the house.

Unless, of course, some elf shows up to arrange all that.

My intention is to enjoy the season with moderation this year. If my cookies are slice-and-bakes instead of made from scratch, it’s not a big deal. I don’t expect anyone will notice if the usual tabletop displays aren’t unpacked or I don’t put antlers on the dog for the family dinner.

But if they do, I have a great explanation. Limping to my easy chair and favoring my arthritic hand, I’ll put on my best “poor me” face and explain that some day they’ll be old, too, and then they’ll understand.

Which I hope will raise enough sympathy that I’m allowed to sleep past 6 on Christmas morning.

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