It's December and everyone seems to be rushing in circles, heading toward Christmas.
I don't rush as much as I used to. Bob never rushed. He left that to me.
After our children grew up there weren't many reasons to scurry through the month. Stockings aren't hung for St. Nick's Day here anymore. I was always late anyway, getting my dates mixed up. If you missed it, like I used to, it's Dec. 6, meaning you're supposed to have stockings hung on Dec. 5. Our personal St. Nick always came a day late, but that didn't bother our brood too much as long as they found filled stockings eventually.
Shopping isn't much of a problem for me, either. We choose names from the adults in our family and only purchase one gift each that way. Of course, that doesn't include little children. They are the ones who make a haul. It is much more fun buying gifts for them.
Our first real preparations came on Thanksgiving Day. No, we didn't go shopping. We used the beautiful day to put up outside lights. It wasn't a great start, though.
Before stapling lights around our front porch, Bob and I checked to see that our old strands lit. Most did. The ones that didn't were set aside and we started arranging the special icicle strands just like last year.
They were up, but when the electricity was switched on only half of the lights lit - and, for sure, we had tested them first.
Bob and I were totally frustrated. He only does this kind of work to please me. If it was up to my husband, there wouldn't be any decorations for Christmas.
We tore those first lights down off the porch - Bob grumbling the whole time. The lighting problem even ruined my holiday spirit.
Two less impressive strings of lights came out of our collection. They went around our window and the porch swing. This setup wasn't as festive as we had planned, but at least we had something that would look a little like Christmas.
Another strand went out by our light pole in the center of the yard. It lit. Of course, I had bought that one new at the end of the season last year. Lights are always a bugger.
Okay, we had our lights up. Next came the cards.
I wanted something special and asked if I could use the family photo taken in June at Russell and Cynthia's wedding. They said "sure," and I went to work.
Setting up the photo should have been easy, but every time I put it on a ready-made card I cut people off the ends of our group. The way things were going, Rebecca and David would be missing from our family.
I kept changing the card, trying to fit everyone in. I tried shrinking the photo and made things worse. It was time to walk away from my computer and have a drink ... of cocoa. When I returned, I solved my problem with a card that let me use the whole photo. Hurrah!
I could actually pick up my photo card the very next day. While I waited the 24 hours, I wrote up a little newsletter to stick in with the card. Since most of our life is written in this column, I didn't have a lot of news to include, so I added more family photos.
One afternoon, Bob and I sat down to put the cards, newsletter, stamps and envelopes together. Another glitch occurred! The envelope for the photo card was about a half-inch shorter than a regular business envelope and my newsletter wouldn't fit. We had to trim every one.
I folded each newsletter and drew pencil lines where to cut. I then handed it to Bob, who did the trimming. Stuffing into the slightly-too-small envelopes with the photo card wasn't a problem after that. Later we addressed, stamped and sealed the cards.
Our family should now have our beautiful group photo displayed in a place of honor.
Because of a bargain I got when I purchased our photo cards, I bought extra to send to readers. So if you want a Manzke photo card and a trimmed newsletter, send a card our way and I'll mail one to you. Better hurry before they are all gone. Susan & Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165.
And don't forget to come to Sissy's in Seymour on Dec. 15 from 3-5 p.m. to purchase books from Colleen Sutherland, Wade Peterson, Colette Bezio, and me. They make great gifts.
Happy St. Nick's Day.:///:///