ESCANABA - Whispers, secrets and surprises buzz in the colds night air.
Fresh snowflakes hush all of the sounds. They cover the ground as smooth as an infant's receiving blanket.
Early December dimness gradually brightens as each candle is lite, each decoration goes up and each Christmas tree is plugged in.
Karen Wils photo
With the popularity of email greetings and Facebook messages, Christmas greetings delivered by “snail-mail” are becoming a thing of the past.
Anticipation is what the season is all about. Getting ready for Christmas is steeped in traditions. Preparations included cleaning, cooking, baking, choir music, tree trimming, hair curling and gift wrapping. Over the years, the way we welcome Christmas has changed.
We only have to go back a few generations to see Christmas preparations that begun months before. The pig was butchered and hams were smoked and sausage was made. Spiced apple rings, relishes and pickles were canned for the Christmas supper table.
The floors were scrubbed and waxed. The silver was polished and most rooms were decked out with swags of balsam, mistletoe, Christmas card trees, manger scenes and garlands.
It is interesting asking our grandparents about their very first memories of Christmas. Chances are the Christmas tree was cut just a day or two before Christmas from behind the house. Santa brought most often one unwrapped gift for each child. Venison meat pie or homemade potato sausage was the main course. Neighbors, family and friends stopped by during the Christmas season to see one another's tree and share cookies, coffee and eggnog.
Everybody had to wear their Sunday best to church on Christmas. Shoes were polished and dresses were ironed.
Today, getting ready for Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning. The shopping starts way before Thanksgiving. Tired couples plunk down in front of computers after working all day to order online gifts for the family.
Most of the festive foods are ordered before the holiday. The tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving. The home is not so much the center of the holiday magic anymore. People are on the go during the holidays. And unfortunately churches are not one of the places they go as often as they did back in our grandparent's day.
The fashions and the hair care are so much easier now. Not many of us miss the hair rollers, wringer wash machines and spray starch.
Our Christmas greetings are sent near and far instantly via emails and Facebook. Hand written cards are getting to be a thing of the past.
Even in our busy, modern world of today, some of the special Christmas preparations stay the same. The excitement in a child's eyes, the twinkle in a spouse's eye after an exhausting day of wrapping, baking, and snow shoveling, waiting patiently counting the days, and the peaceful, prayerful winter's night, are things that never go out of style!
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.