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With the holidays comes the perfect time for generosity

November 30, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

About this time every year holiday decorations go up at my house.

Depending on time and inclination, that's been everything from a skinny, ugly 2-foot Christmas tree borrowed from the we-don't-want-to-ever-see-this-again box in The Messenger newsroom to my 25-year-old artificial tree complete with hundreds of lights and whatever ornaments I can find. I have a lot of ornaments.


In boxes.

In my basement.

So whatever I find, I pretend those are exactly what I'm looking for.

This also is the time my sister builds a town. A glorious town with banks and bakeries, churches and restaurants, mansions and barns, even quilt shops - in her quilt shop. I don't have time to see it all. Not because I don't have time to stop - I don't have time to see everything when I do stop. Seeing everything would take hours and hours and even more hours. But those are hours worth giving, so I try.

I once helped build this town when she lived in Mallard, but she's a hard task master. It fell to me to unwrap the trees and find the people, but even that's a good job to have. I get to be part of the party without being responsible for the outcome.

While in this instance, that's an OK thing, there are problems with not being responsible, and I've been thinking a lot about them in the past few weeks, especially with Thanksgiving just gone.

A couple weeks back, pastor Martens - that's Matthew Martens at Grace Lutheran Church - started his children's sermon by setting a timer for one minute, then having people call out their favorite foods for that minute. When time ended, he turned off the timer, looked up and said, "In that minute, 20 people died of hunger."

That will push thoughts of turkey and stuffing right out of your mind.

And of those 20 people, he added, 13 were children.

Last week was the ELCA - Evangelical Lutheran Church of America - World Hunger week, a time when people are asked to donate money as a world hunger offering, but also a time to replenish the shelves of the local Lord's Cupboard so people who need help can get it.

Our church passed out big brown paper bags from Hy-Vee, thanks to Todd Narber I expect, and those were hauled back to church full of nonperishable food items for the Lord's Cupboard. Money is always a good thing to give, too.

People in my sister's holiday town don't raise money, but they could. You can almost see it happening.

This is fantasyland at its Christmas best. A remarkably stunning miniature town, an artist's creation. And I say that not because it's my sister's miniature town, but because it's remarkable, stunning (and as big as my kitchen) and I'm not given to using nicey-nice adjectives when I talk.

Really, you've got to see this. You don't have to be a quilter to stop by, and this is something you'll never see again. The town changes every time she puts it up.

Seeing the town when it's almost dark outside might be the most fun. She turns off the shop lights and turns on the lights in each little building in town. She even has street lights, but like a lot of street lights in Dodge, they don't always work.

She doesn't charge a thing to look at her town, but she likely will have a place to drop a little money into a pot, and that will go to the Lord's Cupboard. So, you see, people in her town can raise money for a good cause.

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

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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