It’s beginning to look a lot like…

December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory… John Geddes

No, I can’t bring myself to say it. Even post-Black Friday, even with cheery but crowded retail stores, the festive annual music and the holiday just a few weeks away, I can’t yet wrap my head around the approach of Christmas. Where has the year gone? Doesn’t it seem like Hostfest just wrapped up? I swear some friends who fish just put their boats up.

Yet clearly it’s true. Christmas is just around the next corner. Where does the time go?

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a tome of Norman Rockwell art and it’s one of my favorite gifts. I love Americana, particularly that which summons up small town, 20th century living. Every Rockwell work is really a story as one examines even the smallest detail. Hey, I admit being an art lover but it doesn’t mean I am only inspired by things that hang in the Louvre. I could lose myself in a stack of Saturday Evening Posts for a day, come out of a library into the sun blinking and in search of an old-fashioned malt shop or honest-to-goodness barber.

What’s the relationship to Christmas?

Maybe it’s just me, but one of Minot’s chief charms is that at times it reminds me of a Rockwell SEP cover – obviously one of the higher compliments I can give. Now, I am from a “town” in Oklahoma so small, it makes us look like Chicago here. Yet nothing about Olive, OK, which I love, every struck me as Rockwell-esque. But once again last week, strolling down Main Street downtown here, it hit me once again. I wish I were a better writer or maybe just more in touch with my own sentimentality so I could expound on this particular affection. I’ve often wondered if other people feel the same about Minot-Christmas-Rockwell. Specifically I wonder if those of you who have spent your whole lives here ever feel that way. Or does it take someone like me, who made the decision to move here and still sees things through new eyes, to admire this particular charm? I’ve introduced friends to my two distinct hometowns before and been surprised at the things they immediately seem to notice that were, to me, pretty routine – the sound wind makes blowing through pines in Green Country, OK; the fact that you can always somehow feel the presence of the ocean in Miami Beach and thus never really get lost.

So, one may wonder why I resist the idea of our arriving at the holidays even if I am happily in a place that embraces – and embodies – Christmas so well.

Two reasons. One, it means January is looming. So far, since I moved here, it has been around January 25th that my enjoyment of the winter season ends. My Southern soul adjusts easier than my Southern body. I get chided for not yet having the constitution needed for the North Dakota environment. My only defense is that there are regional differences in our tolerances. I don’t have to hide from the tropical sun to avoid sunburn; I have yet to experience a day I consider “hot” here relative to where I come from; and I can almost walk on coal after 30 years of general shoelessness. I wonder if I get to keep both benefit packages after another few years here and adapt to the cold resistance most of you have? I’d be the four-season tire of the editor world!

Yet it is reason number two that most gives me anxiety about the arrival soon of Christmas.

See, I enjoy anticipation. If I am having my favorite meal for dinner on a Friday night, anticipating that will make my entire week better. If I am zipping south to see my family for a week in April, that anticipation will enthuse me for months ahead of time. And I subsequently miss that anticipation when all is said and done. My overt enthusiasm for the holidays is about what leads up to them. It’s the feeling the other day on Main Street. It’s what Sertoma does with Oak Park. It’s the enthusiasm of all of the people in performing arts with seasonal programs. It’s the church events, and it is the charitable efforts. It’s the light and the laughter and even the energy in the mall on the 23rd when… oooops… you forgot something. Then comes Christmas Eve and then the big day – the one day a year I want snow (although, a soft, pleasant one – and no wind!). Next… it’s all over. I’m far less sentimental when it comes to New Years.

Really then it isn’t that I don’t want to acknowledge the approach of Christmas. I just wish there was more time to anticipate it. That seems better.

In the office

Several times before I have written about the slow news cycle that is the holidays. Yes, I don’t like slow news cycles even if I do enjoy the extra time to chat with the few callers I hear from, or catch up on email, etc. But it’s not all about the news cycle. I wish all of our readers could have a glimpse of the Minot Daily News office this time of year. A chance to see the paper as not an entity, but as a team – a family – made up of your neighbors, would be revealing.

It’s festive around here. It is fun and funny; it is light and laughter; it is food (oh a lot of food) and friends. It probably looks a lot like other businesses in Minot.

Because that’s how it is here.

Kind of like a Rockwell illustration.