Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Halloween is a fun night for kids and brings back fond memories, but for me the official holiday season begins this week with my all-time favorite day: Thanksgiving.

I am a list maker. I write down everything so I not only don’t forget anything, I can organize my “to do” things in sections. Since we are invited to our dear friend’s house each year for a fabulous turkey dinner with all the trimmings, that list is very small. I am in charge of dessert, and as much as I pride myself as a decent cook, I am the worst baker on the planet. I mess up boxed cake mix. It’s sort of on the same scale as me killing silk plants. There are certain things that are just not in my talent wheelhouse! Two huge Costco or Sam’s Club pies and a can of whipped cream, and that list is done.

Now we get to the numerous Christmas lists. Christmas, I realized this morning, is right around the corner. This year I haven’t really started my shopping, and that is bizarre, because when the grandchildren were little I began in July and was done and packaged with bows by September. I may have been done with the original list by then, but Christmas shopping is just plain fun. By the time early December rolled around, I had added to, expanded and rewritten that list a dozen times or more. I did get two Amazon deliveries last week and, yes, they are both donned in Christmas paper. But it’s a poor showing for my usual number of items by now.

Shopping early is a financial help, but wrapping is easier to do as I go, too. My back and I are not happy wrappers!

I break down the list by recipient and have three stages. First, I write what I want to get, then a check mark indicates that I have it. Finally, a little star shows it’s wrapped and in the closet. Sounds organized, right? Wrong! It starts out that way, but by Christmas Eve the list is crumbled up and finally tossed in the air with frustration. I try. The kids are all older now so the toy aisle at Target and the stocking stuffers at The Dollar Tree were replaced with one special present and a gift card.

This year I planned a shopping day with a few of my older grands. It not only gets them what they like and need, but it gives me special time with each one of them. I put that on my list, too.

Another list tracks what needs to be done to set up our home for the big event. The tree and trimmings, decorations, table cloths ironed (Grandpa’s job), and shame on me if I forget to change the candles and towels in the bathrooms!

Each year I take out less and less. Since we moved to this house three years ago, I have no fireplace to hang the stockings. I tried the first year to prop them up on the floor, but they ended up looking like a pile of sleeping Muppets since they are all Ernies and Grovers. It was just sad. I did buy new Santa and Mrs. Claus barstool covers from Amazon. When they came yesterday, Grandpa and I had a good laugh. Cute as they are, they are also pretty silly.

The most important of all the lists is my food shopping for Christmas Eve dinner. This one is separated by store and the date that I need to have each thing. I make columns and what items I need from Costco versus Safeway versus Walmart. It is all very organized and methodical at first, but I am sure you know what’s coming. Although I say every year, keep it simple, Grandma, it never pans out that way. Main dish, salad, bread, a few appetizers and a dessert are all you need. Requests from family members who enjoy deviled eggs or my special guacamole cannot be disappointed. By Christmas Eve I have sent poor Grandpa to the store several times to add to the menu. It’s how we roll here. Every year I stress over whether or not we have enough food, and every year I lose most of my Tupperware for those doggie bags.

I would say that fall is in the air, but lately the air is filled with ash, soot and the smell of these awful fires. We all are praying for rain and for those who have lost so much. I hope that next year will be a better holiday season for all.

Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with senior care and advocacy groups. Email her at marla2054@aol.com.