That Christmas moment defines holiday season

  • Julie Muhlstein / Herald Columnist
  • Monday, November 27, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

No Cruising Area. You’ve seen that sign on Evergreen Way, right? It doesn’t warn against cruising for columns, though.

So there I was, on south Everett’s stretch of Highway 99, cruising. Earlier Monday, while taking my boy to school, I spotted a wreath on the front of a Subaru. I hardly find time to stick a wreath on my door, let alone on my minivan. But that’s another topic.

The Subaru wreath was a sign in itself, telling me it’s time to look for my Christmas moment.

"It’s never too early for gift certificates," says a readerboard on a Highway 99 tire business. I’d argue that it can be too early, for gift certificates, tree trimming, sending out cards or baking sugar cookies.

But it’s never too early to notice a single moment that makes the season bright.

A friend of mine, an arts editor, brings it up every year, as I do with him. "Have you had it?" we’ll ask each other. "Have you had your Christmas moment?"

We’re kind of kidding, but mostly not. The holidays have become this big ball of wax. What gets lost in all that effort to do it all and buy it all is a sliver of time to enjoy it all. That we have to look for Christmas moments at all is proof of our adulthood.

I think we recall past Christmases fondly not because they were better when we were kids, but because we savored them. Remember lying under a Christmas tree staring up at the lights? When was the last time you did that?

From Everett to the King County line, Highway 99 is peppered with signs of the season.

"New Year Eve tickets on sale," a fraternal organization announces in readerboard letters.

"Eggnog is yummy," a sign at an Everett coffee bar proclaims.

"Holiday rugs are here," a home interiors store advertises.

"Snowflake latte," says the sign at an espresso stand.

"Trade in your turkey," advises a used-car business. (Being the not-so-proud owner of a turkey of a Ford Tempo that my daughter drives, I found this come-on pretty tempting.)

"Holiday breakfast $2.99," a pancake house reports.

"Pumpkin and eggnog Blizzards," says the sign at a fast-food place.

Ah, Christmas. It’s all about fast food and used cars, right? My friend’s annual question reminds me to tune all that out.

Sometime in the month ahead, there will be a moment. Pay attention. In years past, I’ve found it in the music of a school program, in reading Christmas stories when the kids were little, and in the 2 a.m. goofiness of a gift-wrapping marathon with my late husband.

The moment comes, every year. A hint: Don’t look for it where they hide the big stuff, new skis or diamond earrings. It’s never there.

I pulled into the Rose Motel parking lot on Highway 99, where they’re selling Christmas trees in November.

Linda Collinge, manager of the Lynnwood motel, said owner Searle Vermedal began setting up trees Wednesday, and by Thanksgiving night customers were itching to buy.

"We sold seven trees Friday, five Saturday, and one in the rain on Sunday," Collinge said Monday morning.

Too early for me, I told her.

Still, I spent quite awhile in the lot. I stuck my nose between moist branches and breathed in evergreen perfume. In my fragrant forest, I didn’t hear the cars racing past.

It wasn’t my moment, but it was a start.

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