What’s your advice on holidays, decorations?

By Carrie T. Brazeal, CFCS


QUESTION: I will soon be taking down my holiday decorations. How is
the best way to store them?

ANSWER: Many of our seasonal decorations represent a great investment
in time, money and fond memories. They deserve proper care and storage
and should be cleaned and organized each year in a way that will best
preserve them.

According to Linda Adler, Extension Specialists for Home Furnishings,
look decorations over as they are taken down from display. Some
washable decorations, such as tablecloths, should be laundered before
storing. Dusty ornaments or other decorations should be wiped clean.
Tree lights should also be wiped clean but be sure to disconnect any
electrical items before doing so. This is also a good time to check for
and replace burned-out bulbs.

Since many holiday decorations are fragile, be sure they are well
packed and stored properly. Use large, sturdy cardboard boxes for
storing bulbs, ornaments and lights. Select boxes that are fairly
shallow but large enough so that two or three boxes hold all tree

Wrap fragile bulbs and ornaments in tissue paper. Stack the remaining
ornaments (from heavy to light) on layers of tissue paper. Angel hair
and tinsel can be stored between ornaments for added protection. Remove
hooks and hangers from each ornament and store them separately in a
small box or envelope. Gather strings of tree lights carefully to avoid
tangles. Wrap loosely around a large, flat piece of cardboard. Store
the tree stand in its original box.

After the boxes are packed, clearly label the contents on the outside
of each box and then fill the box with the same items from year to year.
You will consider the time used in carefully packing the boxes as well
spent when you get the ornaments out for the next holiday season.

Designate an area in a closet, attic or garage as holiday storage and
use the same space each year. Clean the storage area thoroughly each
year before returning the decorations to it. Keep boxes off the floor to
keep moisture out. If stored in an attic or outside garage, be sure
that extreme temperature and humidity changes will not harm any of the
items in the boxes. Your holiday candles will not survive a summer in
the attic – trust me!

QUESTION: Why do Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day?

ANSWER: Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s has been a Southern
tradition for over a century. There are countless tales explaining the
reason for eating this cream-colored pea (actually a bean) with a
black-eye in the center. One theme runs throughout all the folklore:
the pea is supposed to bring good luck. The early stories center around
post-Civil War days when a band of Sherman’s Northern invaders left
most of the South’s countryside bleak and bare. Many a Southern
family considered themselves lucky to have black-eyed peas, cornbread
and a bit of hog jowl. Folklore also promises that a person will earn a
dollar for every pea that he eats on New Year’s Day. At this rate,
even if you ate a dozen tablespoonfuls, you would only earn $1000 per
year. When this tale started, many a Southern planter would have been
glad to have this type of annual income.

Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer
Sciences for Texas AgriLife Extension Service-Collin County. She may be
reached at c-brazeal@tamu.edu or 972.548.4233 or metro 972.424.1460,
Ext. 4233.

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