December — in my dreams, anyway — is supposed to be a time to breathe deeply and reflect.
A time to think quietly about the year nearly past and the fresh year to come.
A time to notice the crunching sound your shoes make when you walk through fresh snow on the sidewalk, and the puffs of your warm breath in the cold morning air.
A time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family.
But that’s just in my dreams.
In the real world, December is a time to go nuts, in between trying to wrap stuff up at work; finishing end-of-season household chores, like raking the last leaves of the year; and trying to shop, cook, neaten and otherwise prepare for holiday entertaining at month’s end.
Thirty-nine years ago, that seems to be where my grandparents were.
Let’s see if we can figure out all those tasks crammed into the top of the calendar:
Christmas Fair 6 & 7 - Guessing this is a church or community event. Probably, my grandparents and great-grandma were in attendance. Maybe one of them manned the raffle ticket table or something. Not a major stressor, but an obligation nonetheless.
Art Apropos - No idea what this means, though “Art Apropos” would be a wonderful name for some fictional character — like the crusty, salt-spattered head of Stamford’s Department of Public Works.
(Google suggests there is an Art Apropos Stamps & Papers company in Spokane, Wash. No idea if this has anything to do with them, or whether they even existed 39 years ago.)
Fiston – Again, no idea. This has an X next to it rather than a check mark, suggesting that this particular item might have been canceled rather than completed.
Recycle glass and papers - I wonder how often my grandparents recycled their glass and papers in those days? I assume it was a haul-to-the-dump deal; I doubt Stamford was that far ahead of the curve in terms of recycling bins.
Winterize mower - I’ve written about this task before. In 1975, my grandpa winterized his mower as early as Oct. 13. That struck me as wicked early; December might be a little late, but it makes more sense.
(I just winterized my mower earlier today — it happens to be Nov. 23 as I write this. One less task to hang over into the busy days of December.)
Paint gutters - Seems like an unusual, out-of-season task for December. Maybe it was a touch-up job, rather than a full-on repaint.
Rx Refill - I don’t know specifically what my grandfolks had to refill, but I’ve written about their pharmaceutical regimen before, as well.
For all we know, that might only be half of their special to-do list; there’s another chunk of writeable space to the right of “DECEMBER” that’s not captured in this photo.
As you can see, my grandparents couldn’t really tackle any of these jobs until Dec. 3, as my family was in town for a Thanksgiving visit through Dec. 2 (as previously referenced at the end of this post.)
My grandparents weren’t working in December 1974, so the holiday rush was probably a lot easier to take.
Plus, their approach to holiday gift-giving was always intelligent and conservative; they were not people to either drown you in gifts, or spring for big-ticket items. For them, Christmas shopping was probably a simple matter to be handled in a single afternoon, rather than a spiritual and philosophical quest.
I think I will do my best this year to have one of their kind of Decembers. Busy, but sane; with time enough to fulfill all my responsibilities and still enjoy the crunch of my shoes in the fresh snow.