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If there is a word for Minnesota, it might be weather – it’s unpredictable. I suppose in reality you could add many more: cold, windy, bright, dull, etc. Minnesota weather: if you don't like it, stick around – it will change!

After our Thanksgiving meal levels off, we can sit back and think about all the things the past year has brought us, both good and bad.

It isn't surprising that our country has increasingly high obesity rates.  All our celebrations and special occasions seem to center around food, and the temptation gets the better of us. Sad to say it is really an excuse, because what we overeat in that day isn't the culprit; it’s all the days we overeat in.

It is interesting to pick up almost any magazine and you will see it has big, big letters on the front in regards to cutting calories, losing body fat, etc. Good attention getter, encouraging people to buy.  Then while looking inside one will find pages of good habits and ways one can eat that will slim you down. Plastered on the next page are the pictures of succulent foods made with all the stuff that made grandmother’s food so good: cream, butter, sugars and such. Oh, we are such hypocrites.  Hurrah for those who stick to a "tease taste" and come away from the table feeling fine. 

So then it is onward and upward to Christmas. For many it has been a good excuse to put out their finest array of lights, flowers, and evergreens, indeed making it the prettiest time of the year. I am glad people enjoy sharing their Christmas decorations with others. It is also a good time to bring out the old Christmas songs and artists like Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole and so on. And before the kids start rolling their eyes at the tradition, advise them to really listen to the words and to the music.

There are health benefits too. Music can lower your blood pressure 26% by triggering the release of brain chemicals that ease tension and improve blood flow. Music can reduce aches and pains by 21% by distracting you from discomfort and help you fall asleep faster by calming your nervous system. 

From the sound of things you can almost buy gifts for the multitude and almost for free if you are willing to stand in line at absurdly early hours in the morning to take advantage of those "killer" bargains on Black Friday. And if you have the right cell phone or camera you can compare store prices by reading the bar code. That takes someone smarter or more ambitious than me.

At any rate, there are more things to Christmas to bring joy and good will. My girls are already planning their cookie-baking day, an event as much fun as Christmas Day. The flour may fly and the sparkles shine, but the girls and the granddaughters do so enjoy their day in my kitchen.

It is a special thing for me. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I delayed the operation because I didn't have my Christmas cookies baked. My daughters came home and we spent the weekend baking cookies and then delivered a great number of plates of cookies to family and friends. We were so busy we didn't have time to think about tomorrow. We laughed and enjoyed our time together and later the thanks from so many. Unforgettable: Mrs. Chris Hammerholt. She was so thankful and appreciative and marveled at the "gift." The gift was ours. Anything that comes from the heart fills the heart of the giver.

Christmas will soon be upon us with more special efforts and care for the people we love. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I feel we have an unbelievable area of people who are incredibly kind.  Everyone feels like family. They are. They share. They creatively think of things to enhance the world we live in, including children who do great things. 

Giving a gift of yourself is the nicest gift anyone can receive, whether its taking extra time reading a special story, singing a song, attending special functions or events, visiting shut-ins, or sending a letter. Yes, postage is up but where can you get more for your money, especially if you take the time to write, even a little bit, and not just sign our name? (It doesn't cost any more if you write a short note) People will know you're thinking of them and it can be done early before the Christmas rush starts. They don't all have to be done at the same time.

My sister always decorates the largest tree in the most extravagant way. Sounds like work when you're just two people and work everyday. It is her way of reliving every Christmas as she puts each bulb or ornament on the tree, as it holds a special memory of the days of her life. She even thought one Christmas that maybe she shouldn't bother to put up her tree, but later couldn't help herself.  Imagine her surprise when one of her neighbors commented how her children looked forward to seeing her beautiful 20-foot Christmas tree decorated and lit when they went by.

Christmas Eve has always had its special moments. My cousin, Barbara, was born on Christmas Eve and has always been special to me.

My mother remembers the things her parents did to make Christmas special for them, when times didn't always dictate big, expensive gifts. My Grandpa made wooden toys and Grandma sewed special things and found "dime store" goods that wouldn't be just a dime today. 

And I remember my Grandma Hanson telling about when she was a kid and the live tree was decorated on Christmas Eve and unveiled on Christmas morning when the big double doors to the living room, which were usually closed to save heat, were opened up.

I will always cherish the story and lesson she told of when she and her siblings hung their Christmas stocking in hopes of getting a special gift. She told how she found an orange in her Christmas stocking, so she decided to try again the next night. When she checked her stocking the next morning she found an apple. The third time wasn't so good; it was the skeleton of bones from the fish they had had for supper the night before!

Remembering rural school programs was another favorite memory my Grandmother shared. Can you remember what you were taught to recite for your school programs? The stage back then was formed using a wire strung from one side to the other of the one room schoolhouse. Sheets were often used for "drapes" and if lighting wasn't available, daylight had to do. They practiced every day and then it was time for the program before the Christmas holiday, which was followed with about two weeks of vacation time. 

Take time to think about your favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday memories and the most memorable gift you were ever given.

Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us. Also if you have an idea for a story that you think would be of interest to our readers, please contact me. 

If you have birthdays and anniversaries you would like include, or news to share please contact me via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; by postal mail, P. O. Box 192, Geneva, MN 56035 or telephone, 507-256-4405.

This week’s birthdays and anniversaries include:

• Thursday, November 13th: Geoffrey Nelson. Abbey Louise Titus, Bill Johnson, Jeffrey Nelson, Diane Brighton, Earl & Janis Klinger, Steve & Pennie Ladlie

• Friday, November 14th: Brickyn Moen, Cassandra Hill, Dakota Tracy, Kaye Larson Allen, Jill Ottesen Kehne, Gloria Tufte Keehn, Dawn Farr, Brandon Grunwald

• Saturday, November 15th: Eli Fussy, Sydney Ann Collins, Greg Riley, John Flor Jr., Daniel Mucha, Lee Waage, Cynthia Callahan, Jacob Douglas Bell,

• Sunday, November 16th: Ross Sletten, Asa Daniel Russell Johnson, Matthew Marcus, Betty Brandt, Ronald Johnson, Fred Schmidt, Miranda Dubois

• Monday, November 17th: Eli James Lutgens, Presley Ann Broskoff, Brynn Routh, Mikayla Sue Brouwers, Stuart Kubat, Nathan Larson, Milton Wayne, Gloria Jensen, Nathan Schmidt, Elvern Holland, David Kasper, Jim Olson, Daniel Ingvaldson, John Nelson, Trisha Cyr, Brad & Donna Borchert

• Tuesday, November 18th: Edrea Marae Kubista, Toni Wayne Smith, LeRoy Peterson, Kim Lehmberg, Ernest Anderson, Paul Groth, Allen Schewe, Gordy & Karol Carroll

• Wednesday, November 19th: Sidney Ellen Schultz, Kolby Dale Boverhuis, Deb Schmidt, Leah Scott, Roger Dulas, Jennifer Kycek, Chanelle McCamish, Darrin Peterson, Mandi Wobschall, William Conley, LaShawn & Gretchen Ray, Jeff & Julie Cornelius

May God bless you with a beautiful year to enjoy!

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