Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lightening Up for Chilled Christmas

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lightening Up for Chilled Christmas

Article excerpt

WORKERS laid off during the partial government shutdown were considered "nonessential," a derogatory term when applied to people. However, it's the perfect term for some traditional holiday practices that fell by the wayside this year.

My friend Carol, overworked and overwhelmed, called one evening to say the lovely white pine she had chosen for a Christmas tree was bedecked with tiny white lights - and nothing more.

"We might stop there. Just getting to this point was a miracle," she said. A few days later, she admitted she never did hang ornaments on the tree.

"It's not much to look at by day, but by night, it's a beautiful tree," she said. "Besides, this way, it's much easier to stroke the soft branches. You don't have to worry about knocking off any ornaments."

Barb, another busy friend, checked in a few days before Christmas. She said she was planning a big family dinner. She had decided what to serve and figured out when to shop. She was working on seating arrangements when I talked to her.

"I have decided," she announced with some drama, "that I am using paper napkins. I'll get the big, pretty kind, but I just have to draw the line this year. I am using paper napkins and that's that."

I supported her decision, and assured her that people were coming to her house for dinner for more important reasons than cloth napkins.

"Years from now, nobody will remember you used paper napkins," I said. "Even weeks from now, maybe."

At my house, I jettisoned a few traditions, too.

I had promised to cook dinner for friends coming in from out of town, but I made reservations at a restaurant instead. Also, I usually join the throngs of shoppers at the malls, but this year, I ordered almost everything from catalogs. All the gifts arrived, and I had them wrapped and ready to deliver two weeks before Christmas.

Yes, I had to pay shipping, but not once did I have to drive around looking for a place to park at the mall, and some years, that's worth the price of shipping. …

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