I just forgot!  I actually forgot about the Christmas tree.  I am a Pastor, how could that happen?  It is not that I forgot about Christmas.  I just forgot about the tree business.

Up until yesterday, the thought had not crossed my mind that there was something missing in our plans for Christmas.  We have been shopping.  Plans are made for the family gathering and celebrating Christmas on Sunday, the 20th, since that is really the only convenient time for our crew to get together.  (I have absolutely no idea what we will eat that day.)

I have even done the massive decorating of the outside of the house.  The decorations are unbelievably dramatic and terribly time-consuming to put up.  I will give you the details of how the decorating of the outside of our house is done.  First I open the garage door.  Then I walk over to the shelves in the garage and take down a box.  From that box I retrieve two artificial wreaths, each with a red bow on the bottom.  I take the wreaths outside and gently place one around each of the sconces on either side of the garage door.  What an undertaking!!! I am exhausted just thinking about it.

I feel like Pastor Scrooge when I drive through the neighborhoods to look at all the outdoor lights decorating houses and yards and then drive up to our house afterward.  Mary Ann would have loved having outdoor lights.  I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It is not some sort of theological statement about the real meaning of Christmas versus the decorations.  I am fine with people doing whatever brings them joy as they celebrate the holiday season.

I suspect that part of the reason I have not gotten into much in the way of elaborate Christmas Decorations is that before I retired, this was pretty much the single most demanding time of the year.  Admittedly, Holy Week and Easter are up there with it.  I was so focused on work, and so overwhelmed with all the preparations that I could not muster the motivation to carve out time for decorating the house.  Some of it is that I am far too easily frustrated when trying to take on new tasks and figure out what to do and how to do it.  I needed no added stress at such a busy time.

I don’t really know what other pastors do.  I suspect we are as varied as the general population in the area of decorating the house for the holidays.

We did always put up a tree and do some indoor decorating.  Mary Ann saw to that.  She did not say anything about the tree this year, and I just didn’t think of it.  Now in case someone reading this is getting depressed for us about the tree and indoor decorations.  Now that I remembered, the tree is up.  It has no lights or decorations yet, but it is up.  There are a few things on the mantle.

I have to admit that the motivation for getting the tree up is the fact that our Children and Grandchildren will be here next Sunday.  I suspect they would all be bummed if there were no tree.  Having talked with other folks our age and older, it seems that I am not alone in the lack of interest in putting up the tree.  Mary Ann, on the other hand, would probably not tolerate going through the Christmas season with no tree.  She has always loved the lights and ornaments.  Many years ago we put tinsel on the tree each year.  We had the classic difference in technique.  I would meticulously lay each strand of tinsel over the branches, and Mary Ann would toss handfuls of tinsel on to the tree.  It is a marvel we will be married 44years on Friday.

Mary Ann’s day today included a lot of sleep.  We both slept in.  It was about 10am before we woke (other than the commode trips). I got her dressed, gave her pills and breakfast.  There was an urgent trip to the bathroom, including a couple of substantial fainting spells.  Then when I took her out to the Living Room, she asked to turn around and go back to the bedroom to lie down.  She napped for a couple of hours.

This afternoon after she got up and ate a sandwich, I got the tree up from downstairs.  Then all of a sudden, she got up and headed off.  When I asked where she was going, she said to the kitchen to make something.  I became frustrated with the fact that I was mid stream in getting the tree up, and her actions were demanding that I stop, leave the tree parts in the box on the Living Room floor and help her in the kitchen. I insisted that she give me time at least to put the tree together and get the box out of the Living Room.  I had already moved the furniture to accommodate the tree in our small town home.

As soon as she said that she was going to go to the kitchen to make something, I knew what it was.  The last time we were at the grocery, Mary Ann insisted on getting some of what we have come to call “Lisa’s Cereal.”  In fact we phoned Daughter Lisa while standing in the cereal aisle at the store.  We disagreed on what cereal it was.  We bought two boxes of Quaker Oats Squares.  There is a wonderful pecan crunch made with the cereal, pecans, brown sugar, butter, Karo syrup, vanilla and baking soda.

After the tree was put together, we headed into the kitchen and made the pecan crunch.  Mary Ann sat at the little ice cream table that resides in the kitchen eating area, while I followed the recipe, without ad libbing, and prepared that decadent and very tasty snack.

After church tonight, we picked up some food that Mary had prepared for us, Lavonna’s beans, a couple of containers of spaghetti, and Mary Ann’s favorite green Jello with cool whip and cottage cheese.

Mary Ann is in bed, but the signs are that this will not be a good night for sleep.  I hope I am wrong about that.

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