It’s Friday

Published 3:59 pm Monday, December 3, 2018

By Peggy Walker, R.D.

Decorating for Christmas is a multi-stepped, never ending process for me.  I’m somewhere between steps number 24 and 55 on this last Friday of November… I lose count.

Step 1:  It’s like get ready… and I usually think I am. By the 30th of November I’ve been listening to Christmas music for over a month.  It was tradition for Nicholas and me to see who could hear the first Christmas music on the radio, and then call the other one.  He usually won.  So, the holiday music plays right through Thanksgiving at my house and in my car.

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I’m pretty staunch though about delaying Christmas decorating until after Thanksgiving (besides the fact that Thanksgiving is at our house).  Christmas decor would be wrong, but this year I did get a few poinsettias.  It was impossible to buy mums when the poinsettias were prettier and cheaper.  And always by now, I’ve scoured back through my saved issues of Christmas Cottage magazine, mostly while riding down to Starkville to see the Bulldogs play.

Step 2. Holding back. I work on Thanksgiving preparations for weeks and it takes a minute to get it all put back up. But I couldn’t have done it any faster with family here, ballgames to watch, leftovers to disperse, laundry to do, beds to remake, not to mention that DW and I went to see the Grinch with Mack and Laura before the turkeys were all corralled and packed up.

Then I sat down with the December Southern Living magazine, my reward for a busy weekend.  I felt no inclination to get up and decorate Sunday night as I sipped warmed-over cider and immersed myself in the holiday issue.

Step 3.  Finally. I got up Monday morning ready and set to go. DW brought the red holiday tubs down stairs, I opened all 42 of them (actually eight) and looked inside and began randomly placing items around the house.  Because this is only our secondTennessee Christmas nothing yet has a traditional place to go. It’s a process.

In the Christmas magazines seems some lucky people hire this job out to professionals.  But that’s why I peruse the magazines! Ideas are free for the price of the magazine.  After spreading and scattering most of our decorations around the living room floor I realized that I was standing there holding a stale donut (albeit a chocolate glazed one) and drinking lukewarm coffee.  So, step 4.

Step 4.  Make a pot of fresh coffee, throw away the donuts and start over.

Steps 5 – 15.  Refocus: finish the laundry, unload the dishwasher, put the sheets in the dryer, wash blue jeans, make the beds and get dressed.  I doubt the homeowners of the Christmas cottages decorated while in their pajamas doing laundry.

Steps 16 – 37.  Consider why I have so many holiday kitchen towels and where to place them.  They’re all so cute, and I remember where each one of them came from.  But I don’t think I saw even one holiday towel in the holiday kitchen magazine pictures. Imagine that. No stale donuts either.

Steps 38 – 65.  Put up the garland, lights, ribbon, and bows…another process.  I’ve always done this by myself, but this year DW gets to participate in the fun.  We’ll see how this goes.  Step 66 will be to let DW find the lights that are burned out and #67 is to vacuum up the needles that fall off.

Step 68.  Find the ornament hooks, usually lost in the shuffle, before DW goes back to Mississippi (which will account for at least another 25 steps) to get us a fresh Leyland cypress.  Then we’ll call Mack in to help us decorate the Mississippi tree, another multi-step process, and we promised him.

Steps 101+.  I’m not sure how many more steps to go at this point, but Mack issued me a challenge stating that he had 118 Christmas trees at his house, so I’m going all out!  If I count the Christmas tree salt and pepper shakers, the dirty Santa tree made of coat hangers, the MSU tree adorned with cowbells, the Christmas tree pillows, the sunroom tree, and at least six kitchen towels with trees, I’ll have 106 to go. Though I do think Mackster used his speed method of counting to get that number, his challenge is accepted.   

Final step:  sit back and enjoy…and maybe make another pot of coffee.

Recipe of the Week

Cannellini & Parsley Soup

Just right for a busy December night served with focaccia bread and sliced apples.

3 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

6 cups chicken stock or broth

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

4 ripe tomatoes, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Place beans, broth and garlic in large pot.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, continue cooking for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add olive oil to large skillet. Sauté onion, celery for 5 – 6 minutes over medium-high heat, until soft.  Add tomatoes and salt and continue to cook for 3 – 4 minutes.  Add vegetable mixture and parsley to beans.  Cook slowly another 15 minutes to meld flavors. Serve with Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6 – 8.