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Marg-Ins Who Hit Fast Forward?
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The saying around here has been pretty much the same from everyone. What?! How did it become December?

When we last checked the calendar, it was August. Somehow, we all have lost the past couple of months.

Happy to report, however, that I have at least started my holiday shopping already, as opposed to last year when it was literally done at the last minute.

Our office manager has already laid in a supply of 2010 calendars, which in itself is just ridiculous. It seems like only a couple of years ago we were all abuzz about Y2K and my three-year-old daughter was excited to stay up late enough to watch the ball drop and welcome in the year 2000. Now it's almost 2010, my 13-year-old daughter stays up later than me and is all abuzz about entering high school next fall.

As fast as the time goes, there are still some constants that can be enjoyed, especially as the year winds down. Helping out at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner in Escalon has become a tradition for my daughter and I, a way to kick off the holiday season. We usually also do a little shopping together and we will each pick out a gift we want, which the other one gives to us on Christmas. That's a tradition my mom and I shared so it's nice to continue it with the next generation. My mother was so ultra efficient, though, that we usually had the gifts picked out before Labor Day, then wrapped them and put them away and were genuinely surprised when the holiday came because we had forgotten all about them.

Memories of holidays past, especially from childhood, bring about the best 'warm fuzzies.' We were fortunate to live in close proximity to my paternal grandmother and she always put on a Christmas Eve gala that drew a crowd. It was a big family gathering, my aunts, uncles, multiple cousins, mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, siblings; it was a houseful. My grandmother also had one of the longest driveways in the history of the world, or so it seemed when I was a kid. Which made for some interesting slipping and sliding if it was a snowy or sleety Christmas Eve. My dad would often have to go to her house earlier in the day and use the snowblower on the driveway to get it clear enough for the traffic jam due to arrive later.

But what great memories from those Christmas Eve celebrations. There was always plenty of food and fun, laughter, a fire in the fireplace to warm you and lots of thanks for the gifts that were provided.

Old home movies of the big night are also fun to go back and watch later. My sister, being the oldest of the three kids in my family, always tried to be the prim and proper one, oohing and aahing over each gift. My brother, the middle child, was the 'cool' one with his perfectly coiffed hair and me, as the youngest, had to mug for the camera every time it was turned on.

One holiday memory that still makes me laugh is from the year my uncle, living in Pennsylvania at the time, was a neighbor to an older lady who made a lot of handcrafted and sewn items. That year every female in the family, my aunts, grandmother, mom, sister, cousins and I, all got a handmade bonnet, done in a gingham print and color coded by family; red, blue and green. We all had to put them on and pose for the camera. We looked like a strange version of the Ingalls family. All we needed was for Pa to hitch up the wagon to take us into town for Christmas Eve services and we'd fit right in.

As unusual a present as those bonnets were, I would bet you my cousins still remember them, too, and the thought of them inevitably invokes the broader memory of holidays spent with loved ones. Maybe my uncle wasn't so far off base; he made that Christmas memorable. And good memories can be the best gifts of all.

Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.