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Retirement means finding opportunities to be busy

December 4, 2011
By SANDY MICKELSON , Messenger News

There's magic in the very name of Christmas.

Oh, how I wish I'd written that line.

Well, I did write it just now, but I didn't create it. Creation is the greatest thing when it comes to a simple thought such as "There's magic in the very name of Christmas."

In retirement, I don't create as much as I thought I would. Still putting out fires, trying to get stuff done so retirement can be fun. When a friend of mine sent me some retirement quips, it was as if she watched my life through a back window.

Stuff like how many days are in a retiree's week? Six Saturdays, one Sunday. When is a retiree's bedtime? Three hours after she falls asleep in her chair. How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but it might take all day. And, what do you do all week? Monday through Friday, nothing; on Saturday and Sunday, I rest.

That's when my sister called to say she was putting up her holiday village at her quilt shop and I could come help if I wanted. I finally had something to do that I didn't have to think up. She'd already taken 95 percent of the stuff out of boxes, so I didn't have much of that to do.

We worked from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., stopping only for lunch and supper made by her husband. When I left, the scene took up a space about 8 feet by 10 feet. She said she had a bit more to add the next day, but I had plans and didn't get back until almost 5 p.m., to find her sweeping up errant make-believe snow.

She doused the overhead lights so I'd get a better look, and when I opened my eyes, I could barely breathe. It was as if I were sitting in the clouds overlooking an entire town, right down to a city square with carolers in period costume singing for anyone who would listen.

I wanted to be so eloquent when describing this village. I wanted to write something like there's magic in the creation of this small village. But nothing I can think to say can tell you what I felt when I looked at this scene. It's 12 feet by 14 feet, by the way, taking up as much space as my kitchen.

I had to sit down. I just couldn't take it all in. Bears in the back country. A ski hill with working gondolas. A sheep farm. And a dairy farm, sitting conveniently close to a cheese factory. The school yard sits under a bluff, where a gravel road carries a horse-drawn wagon full of straw bales.

I'm not giving in to sisterly sentiment when I say this is something you should see. But give yourself plenty of time because, honestly, you'll be amazed. Your kids and grandkids won't want to leave.

It's magic, that's what it is. It's the kind of magic a person needs at Christmas.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Sandy Mickelson is the former lifestyle editor of The Messenger. She is retired. She may be reached at



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