Sandy Turner is the specialty publications editor for The Examiner. Reach her at

The whining, the complaining, the endless questions of why and where. It’s the same routine every year when I tell Dad I’m putting up the Christmas tree.
For a person who says he doesn’t want to decorate for the holidays, he sure fools me as he’s the first to rummage through the boxes of ornaments and the last to say enough is enough.
Mom purchased one of those trees with lights permanently attached and after six years of Dad and me dragging it up the stairs, with plenty of mishaps along the way, I’m surprised when it actually lights up again.
As Dad busies himself with strategically straightening each and every branch, I browse through the ornaments that were mom’s favorites and with each piece of décor it brings a special memory.
I’m sorry that Dad lost those memories of Mom and how she would decorate the house with trimmings in every nook and cranny, from snowmen to angels – it was her favorite time of the year.
As soon as it turned November first Dad turned up the furnace, whether it was needed or not. His dog (as you may recall I refer to him as the fattest dog on earth) started digging holes outside to lie in. I actually think he dug the hole so it would be nearly impossible for Dad to make him come back inside. It has to be at least 85 degrees in the house and if I’m hot that dog is probably sweltering.
This extra activity of putting up the tree must have generated some body heat for Dad because halfway through he stopped, looked perplexed and said, “my neighbors are going to think I’ve gone crazy putting up a Christmas tree in the middle of summer.”
After I explained to him that it was nearly the end of November (having to prove myself with the date on that days’ newspaper) he finally conceded that maybe the furnace was turned up a bit too high.
With the finishing touches on the tree, I left a box of assorted Santas for Dad to disperse however he wanted, but was anxious to get back the next day to see what he came up with.
Two battery-operated action Santas, one with a candle waving side to side and another whose head bobbles as he ho-ho-ho’s, were sitting on the dining room table, doing their thing, when I got there. Two rows of Santa figurines had been lined up on the coffee table, looking more like they were getting ready for a firing squad than heading to the North Pole.
Laughing to myself at Dads’ décor decisions I noticed that there was a Santa placed right beside his bed. The red felt suit has faded, the black belt is missing in places and part of Santa’s beard is a tangled mess. I’m sure this Santa isn’t next to Dads’ bed because of its good appearance. It was the Santa that Mom made years ago.
Dad may have lost memories of Christmas past, but not of the woman he shared them with for 57 years.