Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 9, 2013

Cathie Shaffer: A little less holiday: 12/10/13

Cathie Shaffer
The Independent

ASHLAND — In case you’re not keeping track, there are only way-too-few days until Christmas.

I do have a teeny tiny tree up and the presents I’ve purchased so far are wrapped. But I’m waaaay behind again this year.

Instead of getting out my entire Christmas village, my intent this year is to leave the buildings in the boxes and use treasures from my late mother’s collections instead. The prize among these is a Nativity scene she made during her ceramics phase.

And there’s also what I thought was a candle holder and found out was a collectible wine bottle (minus its contents when I got it.) A pretty piece, it features a sculpture of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus and will look nice on my dining room table.

Of course, those pieces are still out in the storage shed. And as we all know, it snowed during the weekend. Snow not being my favorite thing, I decided to wait a little before trudging out and prying open the door.

My change in decorating plans stems as well from the critters in the house. I’m used to cats and know where to put what so the decorations aren’t bothered. But this year we have Carmyn, the young yellow lab, who will be celebrating her first yuletide.

Maggie, my older Sheltie, knows all about Christmas. When she grred at me, I warned her with “Santa doesn’t bring presents to bad girls!” and she calmed right now. She knows all about Santa and the wonderful gifts he brings, such as squeak toys and cans of dog food, the only time she gets that fancy stuff.

While she’s taught Carmyn a lot since the puppy came to live with us, apparently she’s neglected to inform her about the holiday and the need for good behavior. Carmyn is hovering on the edge of permanently residing on the naughty list.

She’s left the presents alone since I’ve put them in a big holiday bag in an out-of-the-way place. She can’t quite reach the shelf holding the miniature tree, but she did get into the bag of decorative gold-painted pine cones and scatter them throughout two rooms.

Carmyn has also learned about stick-on gift tags since I had to yank a blank one off her side the other day. And she decided as I wrapped those gifts that rolls of fancy paper are fun to run away with.

One thing the dogs can’t do is open and rewrap those pretty packages. I spent a lot of years trying to hide gifts where my kids wouldn’t find them yet they didn’t seem surprised to get that stereo they wanted or the boots they’d been longing for.

Why? Because they’re sly and managed to undo the package enough to peek and then close it back up perfectly.

I went away from tall, real trees and to 4-foot artificials when the grandgirls were in the crawling stage. The tree went on a table; its supports were held in place with duct tape and covered with a tree skirt. Those trees might have wiggled from time to time, but they never tipped over.

And now I have a 2-foot prelit laden with nonbreakable decorations and guarded by small wooden nutcracker soldiers. I figure that in a few more years, I’ll have the same sort of Christmas decorations my maternal grandmother put up every year of my childhood: a small ceramic tree on top of the television and a wreath on the back door.

CATHIE SHAFFER, editor of the News-Times in Greenup, can be reached at (606) 473-9854 or cathieshaffer@zoominternet.net.