The oversized ornaments have been taken down.
So has all the garland. And the giant wreaths. And, finally, the spotlights.
Christmas 2005 at the Smith house - save the large nutcrackers - has been wrapped, boxed and stored away in the insulation-filled attic of our home.
I'm always a little sad at this time of year. I would like to celebrate Christmas year 'round - if for no other reason than everything looks so pretty. (Not to mention it would save my wife and I from battling the decorations - and each other - as we pack away the mementoes.)
But back to pretty. Take for example, The Depot and the surrounding buildings that are topped by lights. The lights went up for Christmas, but remained on after the Christmas tree and other lighted trees downtown had gone dark. I love the outlines created on the night skyline. I think it shows a pride in the downtown area that local leaders have desperately been trying to build.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first foray into the world of being a chili judge last weekend in Harlem. I was one of four judges, including local food connoisseur (and WTHO morning man) Steve Ferguson. There were several entrants with a couple of different kinds of chili - standard chili with beans, venison chili (light on the tomato sauce) and white chicken chili.
Along with the heartburn (and a full stomach), I did take a few lessons from the day.
First, saltine crackers and Diet Coke serve as a great palette-cleanser between cups of chili.
Second, hot to one person is death in a spoon to another.
Thirdly, always take another sample of the first chili you try. You'll be surprised how good it tastes after you've tried all the others. Like most things, your taste buds seem to be most harsh on that first batch.
Still, I hope there's another opportunity for me to do more taste testing. After all, it's probably the one job my physique is best suited for.
The ribbon cutting for Checkers last week brought back a lot of memories for me. The drive-through restaurant was one of my favorite stops back when I was commuting to Augusta every day. I would stop by on my way home and pick up an order of apple fritters and a vanilla milkshake. (Three of those a week does a body good!)
The chain has since gone to larger size apple tarts, but their burgers and fries are still awesome - especially those new loaded fries with bacon, cheese and all sorts of wonderful toppings.
Anyway, kudos to my Mirror cohort Kristopher Wells, who was sworn in as a Dearing City Council member Monday night.
Kristopher is passionate about "his" city, and I know he'll do a great job along with new Mayor Sean Kelley - who, by the way, came in third place in the Harlem chili contest.
Good luck to both of them - and all the members of local boards - in 2006.