Join with others at 6 p.m. tonight, Dec. 5, at Saline Creek Pioneer Village in Harrisburg to celebrate the lighting of the Christmas tree. Walk the lighted grounds, listen to Christmas music, bring the kids for a visit with Santa, and enjoy cider and cookies. The Lights Parade will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, down Main Street to the Lions Club. The weather should be nice.
It is halfway to Christmas. The Grinch has been on TV, and now we just need the old version of "Miracle on 34th Street" and my spirit will be as good as it gets. Sister says I need to get some poinsettias. They make a home look festive without having to drag out all the other decorations. I bought some today and she is right. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
National Poinsettia Day is Dec. 12. Red is the traditional color, but there are more than 100 varieties of poinsettia. New hues include gold rush and Christmas beauty marble. Saw several that were pumpkin orange. More of a Thanksgiving decoration than Christmas. Since I like red or white ones, it just didn't look right to me.
In Mexico, poinsettias aren't just for Christmas; they're grown year round and can be as tall as 16 feet. I have seen pictures of some that size in gardens in Florida. When I lived in Algeria, I would buy them as cut flowers. At first they would last just a day; the sap would bleed out and they would wilt. When I learned to burn the cut ends, they would last for a couple of weeks or more.
My Colorado sister-in-law makes cards -- beautiful, scary, funny, etc. -- for every occasion. When we were together, at least one day was spent with material spread over the dining room table with ribbon, glue, sequins, paper of all description. I didn't get out of the work.
This fall, we sisters went to a card-making class. Very simple. We discovered that we were not good with ink stamps, even when they were clear, to see if the designs were centered. Half the time, they weren't. We each came home with 25 handmade cards. It took us three hours and a lot of help from the instructor so we could get out on time. I am sending one to Joyce for her birthday, the one-and-only Elizabeth-made card she will ever receive.
Have read about goldfish swallowing. The thought makes me queasy. Pies, hot dogs, doughnuts all lend themselves to contests. Some bring the winner more than a ribbon. Big money is sometimes the prize. Students at high schools and colleges, including Georgia Tech, University of Minnesota, Duluth and San Diego State, have started a new extracurricular activity -- lettuce club. Members gather to see who can eat an entire head of iceberg lettuce the fastest. Most winners finish in less than five minutes. Leafy green veggies are good for us, but I don't think they are eating for health. At the price of lettuce, parents might wish their kids would go to the bait shop for minnows.
In this busy season, we often find that soup and grilled cheese is the lunch of choice. A friend told me how to make a great sandwich quickly and just the way you like it. It takes a toaster and microwave. Toast the bread to the crispness desired, spread one side of each slice with spread of choice. Place cheese, pickle, apples, whatever, on one slice, cover with other, zap for 30-32 seconds. Cheese melts, bread stays crisp and just takes minutes.
If you feed the birds all winter, remember they also need water. Time to peruse the garden departments for a heater to keep the bird bath from freezing. I don't leave mine out. Too far to run electricity. I took the top in this week and remembered to wrap the threads against wet and rust. I'm not sure why I bothered. The birds didn't seem to like it, though I kept it full all summer.
Saw a blue jay in the magnolia tree. He isn't a flitting-about bird. Just sits and surveys all he can see. Cardinals are also out and about as are the little birds.
• Elizabeth Woodworth is a weekly columnist based in Saline County.