Bring on the holidays

On a positive note...

Is it wrong that I have all of my Christmas decorations lined up in boxes in the front hallway, just waiting to be opened and loved again? That’s the closest to decorating that my husband will allow before Thanksgiving.

But come Friday, oh man, it’s throw open the boxes, put up the tree and light up the lights.

I think my love of the holidays comes from my mother, who had an extraordinary hand and eye for making the most festive display possible. She loved Christmas, the music and the schmaltzy television specials. But most of all, she loved giving presents.

Every year she would plan special gifts for all of her friends and extended family members. Some years, it was cheese and sausage shipped in from her favorite Wisconsin cheese house. Other times, she spent hours in the kitchen whipping up batches of her famous fudge or Christmas cut-out cookies or some delicious spritz cookies. Then she would arrange a tray of colorful treats to be hand delivered to the recipient.

Some years, she recruited my dad to make handmade walnut cheese plates. He also made beautiful lathe-turned candle holders using oak, cherry or walnut. And of course, you couldn’t give out candle holders without candles — so Mom found a new hobby. She’d melt down the wax on the kitchen stove and create colorful pillar candles.

In later years, she made pixies — little bendable elves dressed in red and green, toting a little wrapped present, a Christmas songbook or even a little candle holder (thanks to Dad’s fine woodworking). She’d give the pixies as gifts to friends and family. Some of them would snicker a little when they saw them — plastic elf heads atop a burlap-covered body. But that didn’t bother Mom. She just kept making them. She kept many of the pixies and decorated every room in the house at Christmas time.

“You know a pixie in the house means good luck,” she remind us when we chuckled about the over abundance of the elfin men. At one time, we counted more than 150 pixies.

But now that Mom is gone, I’ve gone quite attached to the four or five pixies I have in my Christmas decorations. It makes me happy to think of the joy she took in making those things.

So as I unpack the decorations on Friday, I’ll make sure that the pixies are prominently placed around the tree. That means good luck for us this holiday season, but it’s also a reminder of the warm and caring woman who made them.