Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

I haven’t had a real tree in years. It’s really a lot of trouble and let’s face it, you can get that wonderful smell from a Sentsy and not have to vacuum pine needles for six months.

Growing up in Missouri, a few days before Christmas we went into the woods and chopped down a cedar tree to decorate. I can remember fragile glass ornaments—some shaped like bells—glass bead garland, and plenty of silver icicles hanging from every branch. One year we strung popcorn to make a different kind of garland. It looked okay, but I would have rather eaten the popcorn with plenty of butter and salt.

I can remember ribbon candy, peanuts in the shell, chocolates, orange slice candy, and apples and oranges. I also remember that when we had mixed nuts, they didn’t come in a can, they came in a sack from the grocery store. Each of us was responsible for cracking and picking any nut we planned on eating. I always like the filberts, or hazel nuts, although it seemed redundant to buy them when we each fall, we had our fill from the bush behind the house.

Another thing that stands out in my memory is how worried I would get when it didn’t snow on Christmas Eve. I was just sure Santa wouldn’t be able to make it to our house. I understood sledding, and just didn’t get that flying through the air part. Our sleds had to have snow and I figured Santa’s sled wouldn’t make the trip without a smooth layer of snow to glide through.

Eventually, we had an artificial tree at home. It was one of those silver trees that were popular in the late fifties and then were worth a fortune at flea markets many years later. I’m sure it was the nostalgic value and not the actual value of the trees.

It’s hard to believe how Christmas trees, at least for the most part, still look the same, but have also changed. I now have a fiber optic tree. I don’t spend hours decorating it, I just pull it out of the box and fluff it up, plug it in and let it twirl with its multi-colored lights and sparkling ornaments.

At least when Christmas is over, I don’t have to remove the ornaments (and million icicles) before I haul it back into the woods. Nope, I just unplug it, cram it back into the box and take it downstairs until next year. With the Sentsy candle, I can smell Christmas year round, if that’s what I want.

Copyright © Dec 2010 L. S. Fisher

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Doesn't Have to be Crazy

A few of the advantages of being a grandparent—you don’t have to worry about how much noise a toy makes or whether there is room for it in the Toy Room. Geeze, I remember when my kids had a toy box, but now kids need an entire room for the toys they get from Santa, their parents, their grandparents, various aunts, uncles, and family friends.

As the grandkids multiply so does the expense. More important to me is the time it takes to decide what to buy, where to find it, and the fine line between getting it soon enough that it is still in stock and not before the last marketing campaign causes a change of heart.

Several years ago, based on my kids’ pleas to not buy so much for Christmas and my own practical nature that tells me they already have too many toys, I decided to put my money in educational CDs for my grandchildren.

I buy the grandkids a few small gifts, but I don’t find it necessary to get too indulgent. I give the older kids pre-paid VISA cards so they can use them for something they really want and give the younger kids a few toys.

The major part of my shopping is done once I make the phone call transferring money from my account to purchase CDs for the grandkids' accounts. I avoid the pushing, shoving crazed shoppers, and my grandkids will each have several thousand dollars for education when they graduate high school. That money could have been spent on long-forgotten or broken toys.

We celebrate Christmas this Saturday. It will be a fun time to get together and, of course, eat. Christmas day will be a day to kick up my feet and relax. A few changes in our tradition has really made Christmas with my family more enjoyable and a lot less stressful.

Copyright (c) December 2010 L. S. Fisher

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Name is Linda—And I’m a Baby Boomer

I went to a small school when I was a kid, but my class always had five girls named Linda—and one year we had six. That was nearly half the girls in the class. One year a teacher decided that since we all had different middle names, the problem was solved. So for one school year, the teacher called me “Sue.” I wasn’t crazy about sharing a name with four other students, but never liked my middle name at all.

“Why did you name me Linda?” I asked my mom.

“Because it’s such a pretty name,” she said. “I didn’t want you to have an odd name like mine.” Her mother named her Lula. I thought her middle name, Ellen, was beautiful and I would have been proud to be the only Ellen in our class—heck, maybe in the whole school.

I notice that most women named Linda, like me, are baby boomers. This morning, curiosity got the best of me and I discovered that social security has the most popular name listed for the past 100 years. Well, not to my surprise Linda was the No. 1 name from 1948-1952 when it dropped to No. 2 for a couple of years. Still, it was in the top five names from 1944 through 1963: a solid contender for most popular girl’s name for boomers.

The same thing happened with Jennifer in the '70s, Jessica in the '80s, and Emily in the '90s. Someone hears one of those names and they can pretty well guess what generation you belong to. One of the timeless names is Mary—the most popular girl’s name of all.

“Linda” seemed to go out of style after 1963. Someday, it will make a comeback as our great, or great-great granddaughters inherit the name. Then, the naming cycle begins again. Except for Mary, and that never goes out of style.

copyright (c) December 2010 L. S. Fisher