I spent yesterday morning doing the Christmas cards -- around forty of them. It's always been a pleasant task -- sending good wishes to folks. But more and more it's also a kind of bittersweet day of memories as I leaf through my address book and see all the names crossed out due to death, the changes of address due to downsizing or divorce.
MaybeI should start afresh with a new address book and save the old one to peruse on All Souls Day. It would be a fitting exercise. But I suppose it's good, in this season of programmed jollity, to spare a few moments to think of those folks in my book who've suffered losses . . . or to savor the pleasant memories of those who I've lost track of. That's probably why I hang on to the old book.
The house is inching into Christmas mode now -- Great Great Aunt Georgia's red and white quilt and Great Grandmother Alice's red, white, and green one are up and Christmas lights and such are everywhere. Only the tree and the greenery are missing but that will come next weekend.
Next comes the wrapping of the presents. Most of the ones that need to get in the mail are ready to go. The ones for under the Christmas tree are waiting -- the hard part here is coming up with the clever clues that are our nerdy tradition. (No, Josie won't be expected to play our game.)
Snow is falling as I write this Saturday night. Anywhere from two to eighteen inches is predicted. Or maybe more. We're ready for bad roads and power outages. Claui and Josie are supposed to return on Monday but, depending on weather conditions, they may have to delay their return.
If we don't have power, we don't have internet so if I don't post, that's why.
Preparing for the worst . . . hoping for the best.
Changes on Main Street -- pretty much the only street -- in our little town. The building that housed the local paper when we moved here forty-some years ago and has sat shabby and vacant for maybe thirty years is being refurbished. It's the latest of many tasteful renovations that have changed the face and the feeling of our rural county seat.
In the mid-Seventies, Main Street had, in addition to this newspaper office and the county courthouse, two florists, two banks, a drugstore with a lunch counter, a dime store, a post office, a library, a funeral home, a small grocery, two hardware stores, a store selling furniture and appliances, a beauty parlor, a café, two dentists, some lawyers, and a small department store.
Over time, some of these businesses closed; others moved to the by-pass where parking and occasional flooding aren't a problem.
Today, the courthouse, the department store, one of the hardware stores, one of the florists, one of the dentists (a new guy-- the old one, our buddy Bob retired,) the post office, and the café (in its latest incarnation) are still there, joined by a popular coffee shop, two rather upscale eateries, a couple of galleries, a bike shop, a thrift shop, an antique shop, a tattoo parlor, and probably a lot more that I'm unaware of.
It's a different place now. I miss the quaintness of the little town where a man with a push broom swept the street in the early evening. But that town was dying slowly and I'm grateful for the new faces and the new energy that are resurrecting Marshall.
Colder weather, along with this beautiful pot of amaryllis and paperwhites (an early Christmas gift from Claui's folks) and a whole raft of brightly wrapped gifts from Fay in Virginia (she's always beforehand with gifts, doggone it) are telling me it's time to make the shift from autumnal colors to reds and greens.
Time to toss out the pumpkins and decorative gourds (the squirrels and other critters will enjoy them) and begin bringing out the Christmas odds and ends too. Maybe I should bake something with cinnamon to make the house smell holiday-ish.
They're giving snow for this weekend (as my older neighbors used to say) so it'll be easier to begin to get into the Yuletide spirit. No tree though, till the 16th -- that's the time we've appointed for the traditional stringing of the popcorn and cranberry chain and decorating the tree.
I look forward to Josie's reaction. She'll be able to 'help' -- we have lots of unbreakable ornaments for the lower branches.
And I look forward to watching these bulbs grow and bloom -- a fine antidote to the gray skies.
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