Tom Stangl

I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving and were able to spend some time with family and friends. It’s a wonderful holiday that gets short changed, in my opinion.

Now that Thanksgiving is done, the holdouts who have waited to get into the Christmas mode are getting off the bench and into high gear. It is less than a month away, after all.

Decorating for Christmas is a multimillion-dollar business. Between the tree and the trimmings and outdoor ornamentation, there are plenty of “halls” to be “decked” this time of year.

For nearly all of our married life, my wife Diane has been decorating our home. She has a wonderful eye for decorating, color and symmetry. She also loves Christmas.

In the past, we would decorate inside the house as well as outside. The last home we owned in Iowa had a wonderful porch which we would decorate with icicle lights and garland. We also had a fence on which we hung lights and garland. Every year, I would get the lights out to determine what needed to be replaced before hanging them up. Invariably, something didn’t survive and would need to be replaced.

I am a self-confessed curmudgeon when it comes to these tasks and it is a testament to the patience of my wife that our marriage and my body survived outdoor decorating.

When we moved to Wisconsin, we brought a lot of the indoor decorations, but precious few of the outdoor ones. The ritual that is observed each year involves Diane locating the boxes of decorations in the basement, which I retrieve and then get out of the way.  An artist needs space to work and there is precious little that I can contribute beyond moving the boxes.

Diane’s trees are truly spectacular and she spends several hours on a weekend to get things just right. Every year it seems we add something different or change the theme.

That all changed in 2016 when we adopted a cat. Macie was fascinated by the tree and would climb it in the evening when we were home, resulting in some broken ornaments and added stress. Last year, Macie was not as interested in the tree and we had fewer incidents.

We are quite sure about what to do this year. In April, we adopted a pair of six month old kittens, Felix and Willow. The duo are prolific climbers and enjoy all manner of play. We have some feather toys on a string connected to a wand that, when whipped around, sound a bit like a bird. It’s great fun to see them play, taking turns chasing the feathers.

We have no way of knowing how they will react to having a tree with bright lights and all manner of ornaments dangling from the branches. It is extremely frustrating for all to have the tree get disturbed by cats, so I think we will take a conservative approach this year. Diane has a plan to put a tree with lights up to see if the kittens will leave it alone. If that succeeds, perhaps some ornaments will be added.

I hope it works. Christmas without a tree just won’t be Christmas.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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