There is a bible verse that says, “To everything there is a Season.” It was in the middle of October when I wrote this column, and I was just plain disgusted. I am not a ‘shopper’ by anyone’s definition. I get what I need and get out – because I do not like shopping, period. As a long-standing member of the rural agriculture community, I’ve never had much money to spend on ‘stuff’. Yes, we do spend money on newer equipment and supplies as we care for the land and our livestock, but not a whole lot of cash goes for extra ‘stuff’.

I made a trip to the ‘big city’ a few days ago and decided that I wanted to stop at one of those big box stores to pick up a few things for my critters (two dogs and three mouser-type cats). I almost dropped to my knees when I walked in the door and saw the big room full of Christmas displays staring me right in the face.

Trees of all colors, garlands and lights, huge displays of ornaments of every kind, shape and size and toys, toys – and more toys. As I continued to walk through the store, I saw all kinds of Christmas clothes, all sorts of Christmas decorating stuff, even for bathrooms. You name it, they had it.

It wasn’t even Halloween yet for heaven’s sake, and although I’m not a big fan of Halloween – I never did like ghosts and goblins and flying witches – I did like the candy folks put in our paper sacks.

The costumes of today are not to be believed and they are pretty pricey – $20 for a plastic cover-up thing that probably won’t even fit again next year. We always made our own costumes from old sheets or Dad’s shirts and Mom’s old skirts that were destined for the ‘rag bag’ so it didn’t cost the family much money.

Halloween pumpkins, fall garlands and wreaths were all on sale at closeout prices as were the other goodies, except for the candy. That was full price in the aisle in giant bins. You can get a bag of 125 pieces of what we called ‘penny candy’ for $8.00 and a bigger bag for $19.95 (500 pieces).

It appeared Thanksgiving had been tossed in the dumpster this year. I didn’t see anything resembling turkeys or any Happy Thanksgiving decorations.  If I remember correctly, Thanksgiving is a time of sharing food and friendship with family and friends, as a celebration of the Harvest completed.

All this, so the Christmas items could be put on the shelves. There were already all manners of pre-packaged, pre-wrapped ‘ready to go’ gift items and some of them even had gift cards stapled to the ribbons. All one has to do is grab a cart, toss in the pre-wrapped gifts, write the names on the packages, toss them in the closet and get on with life until Christmas Day. Have we become so busy making a living and getting on with life, that we have forgotten how to live?

Personally, for me, Christmas and the months before it, are about making memories with family and friends. Years ago, when I was still at home, my mother and I would bake Christmas cookies and my little sisters and brothers would have a grand time smearing frosting and putting sprinkles on the cookies, which went on a paper plate and were taken to relatives.

Our neighborhood used to have a Christmas tree cutting day at a neighbors place. We all gathered in the pasture and every family cut down their tree and gathered some branches to decorate front doors and make wreaths.  The kids took their sleds and had fun all afternoon sledding down the snowy badland banks with their friends.

For years, a special little girl (she was born on my husband’s birthday) came to our home right after Thanksgiving and we helped her assemble and decorate a big gingerbread house with white icing and all kinds of sprinkles, candy canes and other items.

Unfortunately, kids grow up and she’s long past the stage of coming here and spending the day decorating not only the house, but herself, the floor and anything else that got in the way of the frosting. She always took her gingerbread house home to her parents to be used as one of the Christmas decorations. And then, after New Year’s, the birds had a feast in the yard as they devoured the stale gingerbread.

As I said – Christmas is about making memories, and not always the gifts.

–Paula