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Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas has exploded all over the house.

This past weekend all Christmas broke loose at the Fisher farm. I had an agenda when I woke up Sunday morning because I knew things were only going to get busier before the big day and if I didn’t get a move on the lights would never get up. It’s not like they can put themselves up.
So, I found the ladder and the long hooked pole that the Farmer had rigged up for this very purpose. I got the box of lights out of the basement, spent half an hour untangling them and stretching them out across the front lawn, then I fastened the end of the string of lights to the end of the hooked pole. Wielding my instrument like a super-long fly-fishing rod, I cast up toward the top of the huge pine tree. And promptly got the entire apparatus stuck there.
I got the pole back and the end of the lights are sort of up at the top of the tree. Almost at the top. Good enough. A man on a galloping horse would never notice, as my mom says.
I brought the pole to the barn and got a garden rake out instead. Armed with that, I repeatedly pushed the string of lights up onto the branches as I moved my ladder around the tree. Almost tipped over a few times, and I imagined the boys watching me from the house. I was stubborn, didn’t ask for help, and decided halfway through I didn’t need it anyway. I got the job done.
Back in the house, I decided I would let the men go find me a tree while I dragged boxes of decorations out of the attic crawl space. I found the balls and the stars, the angels and the ribbon that I wind through the branches. I tested the strings of white lights and hung the stockings all over the living room. Then I started getting the house ready for Sunday dinner and waited for the men. I had given them less than an hour to find me a tree before we had to start cooking dinner. I hoped they would be lucky.
I remember one Christmas a few years ago when I challenged the Farmer to find me a tree on the property. We drove the ATV out back over deep snow and I pointed at the top of a huge tree. He climbed up and sawed the top five feet off. When it fell down to the ground and rolled over I burst out laughing. The back of it was just a bunch of brown twigs. My poor husband was covered in sweat from his tree-climbing and sawing efforts. We just left the poor thing there in the snow and went to visit the Johnson Brothers instead. And that’s what we have done every year – gone to a tree farm to pick out a perfectly trimmed and cultivated Christmas tree, like the cityfolk.
Well, this year I decided I wanted to try again. And the Farmer is always up for a challenge. Within an hour I heard the ATV returning, a beautiful round tree on the trailer and our two Chinese students dangling their feet off the back of the ride.
It wasn’t until they unloaded their bounty that I was told it was actually two trees tied together. Leave it to the Farmer to come up with that little feat of engineering. Bringing it into the house was a bit of a challenge, and so was finding a space for it in the living room. I got the lights and ribbon, ornaments and candy canes on it before our guests arrived and even snapped a picture or two. John and Jerry pronounced it beautiful, and I have to agree. It’s the best tree we have ever had.
Our beautiful double-barreled Christmas tree tried to fall into the room once during Sunday dinner, reminding us to tighten the screws in the base as well as tying it to the curtain rods on both sides. Now it is secure. It should make it through the holidays, as long as I remember to lock the cats in the basement before I go to bed at night. ‘Cause if they get into it, the song will be “oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, your ornaments are history…”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Give to The Salvation Army so they can give all year long.

It’s that time of year again. Most grocery stores and shopping malls are manned by a Salvation Army bell-ringer this month, collecting cash for people in need. If you do as Nickelback says and “donate every time you’re asked,” you will have given a sizeable amount by the time Christmas rolls around. Pace yourself!
I have volunteered my time as a Salvation Army bell-ringer for a number of years now. I do this for a few reasons. First, it reminds me of when I was growing up and really puts me in the Christmas spirit. Second, I love the smiles I get from people during my shift – even those who for whatever reason don’t put any coin in the kettle. How can you not feel good about getting a steady stream of smiles? Sometimes I see people I haven’t seen in years. Or meet someone I have only previously met in conversations online. And finally, I donate my time on the kettle shifts because I don’t have a lot of money to donate. I know the Salvation Army needs bell-ringers. Without them, they cannot do their Christmas fundraising.
If like me, you cannot afford to give a lot to the needy but would like to help your North Grenville neighbours who don’t have enough this Christmas, consider donating a few hours of your time. Call The Salvation Army office at 613-258-3583 and get yourself signed up. They will assign you a two-hour shift, at one of our local retail stations. You just need to look people in the eye, smile, and wish them a Merry Christmas and thank them if they choose to put something in the kettle. And if you have as much fun as I do, sign yourself up for another shift, and another. My first kettle shift at the LCBO this year brought in close to $600 in two hours. Think of that. Without a bell-ringer, the Salvation Army would not have that money to give back to the people in their community programs. They are short of volunteers and really need your help ringing the bells this year. You don’t have to commit to anything. Just do one two-hour shift and see how you like it. And I thank you, in advance. The money you will bring in during your shift goes directly back into the programs that help the needy in North Grenville, this Christmas and all year long. The Christmas Kettle campaign is the Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser of the year. This Christmas, they hope to bring in over $50,000.
The Salvation Army in Kemptville has a new team this year. Calvin and Erin Wong have the training and resources to help people in need, and they certainly have the heart. What they need is for people to sign up. If you or someone you know is in need this Christmas, please contact them. Last year close to 130 Christmas baskets were distributed through The Salvation Army in North Grenville. This year, just 40 families have signed up to receive this program. Yes, you need to fill out some paperwork and have an interview regarding your situation in order to qualify for this program. But that is just due diligence and an important part of being good stewards of the donations that have been entrusted to them by the community. If you need help this Christmas, contact them. They want to help you. Maybe you don’t regularly need help but this month in particular is going to be extremely difficult. Give them a call. They are here to help.
STAR 975, your community radio station, is partnering with The Salvation Army on Friday, December 6th, to assist in this year’s Christmas campaign. Please consider calling in at 613-258-0467 and donating what you can to help. I would like to challenge those in our community who have been blessed, who have more than enough. Please call in and donate what you can for this worthy cause. To our local business people. If you have had a good year, please share it with those in need. And if you have been helped by The Salvation Army in your life, please call and share your story with us, or come to the station and let us put you on the air. This is important, and we need to do what we can. Because need knows no season. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.