January 3, 2024

Just My Opinion - By Mary Kilen

So Much Less Fun
Dale and I spent part of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day taking down all of the Christmas decorations. It is so much less fun than putting them up.
Putting up Christmas decorations at our house is a multistage event. This year Dale got an early start on the outside decorations taking advantage of the warm weather before Thanksgiving. It was hard not to use those 50 degree days to put them up. It was much better than those years when the snow was already on the ground and temperatures were below freezing. It has often meant a ladder standing on ice as well, which is terrifying.
You would think he would be done, but over the next couple of weeks there were a few things that went up one by one. There were a few new decorations bought to fill in those blank spaces. Finally, it was where he wanted it.
The same thing was going on inside. We got the tree up and my village and nativity were up on Thanksgiving. However, I didn’t decorate the tree for the longest time. Then decorating followed the usual procedure. First the special ornaments go on. After that I have to sit back and make sure they are in the right places before I start filling in with other ornaments.
We even had a really late addition this year. Dale had seen some lights online that he thought he wanted for outside along the gutters. He ordered them around Halloween. After ordering and finally getting the first shipping  notice, we realized they were coming from Sweden. Shipping notices would follow about every week after that and then nothing. They were supposed to be somewhere in Ohio, but they never seemed to arrive.
They finally came a few days before Christmas. Imagine my surprise when they came in two very small boxes. With the outside lights already up, Dale put one of the strings around the ceiling in the living room. They will change into multiple colors, run in all different directions, speeds and color schemes. They will also run in time to music. The kids had great fun with them while they were here over Christmas.
Anyway, on Sunday Dale decided he would start taking down the outside lights. He started bringing them into the garage to defrost. Lights and the associated things like stakes to hold them in the ground were going into a new tote. Cords, timers and things like that went into a second tote. The hope is that will make it easier next year when it’s time to put up lights again.
I took down the nativity and village and some other things in the house.
On Monday we finished taking down the outside decorations and the tree. Everything was stored away for the year.
Now my living room seems empty and dim. There is no more glow you could almost see from outer space on the outside of the house.
It is never as much fun to put it all away as it is to put it up. We take our time when we put them up but become people on a mission when it comes to taking them down. As I write my column on Monday evening, I’m tired from all of the trips up and down the stairs both at the house and the office that come with putting things away.
We took a swing at the lights and decorations in the office on Monday, too. I’ve gained back all the space on my desk, but it seems pretty dim there too.

Goals For Heading Into The New Year
I saw this one on Facebook a couple of times this past week and I really like the message behind it.
Consider the following labeled The Charles Schulz Philosophy:
Without using Google
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.
How did you do?
The point is none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields.
But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. 
Achievements are forgotten.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here’s another quiz. More personal this time:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
Was that quiz a little easier? The point? The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money ... or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most.
Let that be what you strive for in 2024. Be one of those people.