Deadlines. We all have deadlines of sorts. Deadlines for bills, deadlines for "honey-do" lists, deadlines for homework and so on.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Deadlines. We all have deadlines of sorts. Deadlines for bills, deadlines for "honey-do" lists, deadlines for homework and so on.
Trish Morgan deadlines are always looming, sometimes extended, yet always surrounding everything I do. For example, as a writer, I have to meet my deadlines for my editors first and foremost. But, then there are always the deadlines for the numerous fundraisers and events that I promised to meet.
There isn't more than one of me, and sometimes there needs to be - especially at this time of year! One of me could handle the writing and my extracurricular activities, and the other of me could walk downstairs, open the closet in the rec room and pull out all of the boxes of Christmas decorations - and get busy!
There are definite advantages to living in the home that my family built in 1969. I know every crook and cranny, and all of the places I felt comfortable and safe. There is, though, the "creepy closet" - shhhhhhh, don't tell - but that's the subject of another column LOL. Today, it's another closet.
There's nothing more beautiful than a house filled with a beautiful Christmas tree, nativity scenes, candles and lots of Christmas lights. My favorite, though, is bringing the outside of my home to life - as if to say Christmas lives here, and we celebrate the love that baby Jesus brought to the world.
Sounds wonderful, but decorating has not yet begun. Ideas have been swirling in my head as to what I would like to do for decorating this year. I know all of the things that live in the closet, and once I set my mind to it, bringing all of the Christmas decorations out is always like seeing them for the first time.
This closet holds all of the treasures that I have gathered throughout my entire life. There are my favorite Hallmark ornaments that I have collected since 1978, and purchased each year to designate important milestones that year.
The closet keeps my collection of numerous nativity scenes - each with a different story to tell. One nativity set, which happens to be one of my most cherished, is one that was designed and dry-brushed exclusively for me by Eleanor McRobie.
Back in the early 1980s, money was very tight in my household. My husband and I were new parents, and we had to watch every penny coming in and going out. I worked for Eleanor in a little grocery store/restaurant called Food-O-Rama in Piedmont,  and I learned a lot about cooking, baking, the value of hard work and customer service. I grew to love Eleanor dearly - not only as my boss, but as my friend.
Eleanor knew things were tough for my little family, and when Christmas was coming she knew of my love for nativity scenes. I saw a set that she made at ceramics class for herself, and it was the most beautiful set I had ever seen. I asked her how much a set like that would cost, and I decided that between then and Christmas I should be able to pay her for a set of my very own.
I can still remember how much the set cost, and $75 was a lot of money for me back then - Eleanor even discounted the price for me. I had made payments on it all through December while I was working, but Christmas was almost here and I still owed her $40. There was no way I was going to be able to pay her in time for Christmas, and telling her was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do.
Being the sweet and generous person that she was, she told me that was problem. She knew I would pay her as soon as I could.
Then, the most wonderful thing happened! I worked for her a half day on Christmas Eve, and when I was ready to leave for the day, she presented me with the box - filled with camels, wise men, lambs, cows, angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and a manger. She told me I could go ahead and take it home for Christmas, and pay her throughout the month of January until it was paid off. No one had ever done that for me before. It was meaningful - and I have never forgotten that lesson in generosity, compassion and genuine kindness.
Eleanor is no longer with us, but I know that there are many, many people who have been the recipients of her kind, servant's heart. She had a way about her - a way to make people feel special, extraordinary and loved - no matter their walks in life.
Each year, that nativity set takes a prominent place in my home - a set that now has chips in the pieces, a missing camel, and a shepherd who can no longer stand on his own. This nativity scene means the world to me, and this weekend when I go into the closet, it will be there - with each piece delicately wrapped in paper towels and gently placed in a box - waiting for me to unwrap and place the pieces for all to see.
Isn't it wonderful to remember the most beautiful people who have memorable places that our hearts? I try never to forget those who made a difference in this life. People like Eleanor.
The baby Jesus. This piece of my nativity set is a favorite of mine and all of my grandchildren. I had always wanted a nativity set with the baby Jesus separate from the manger - just like one I remembered that my mom had while I was growing up. My grandchildren have played with baby Jesus through each Christmas season, always taking care to put him back into the place where he belongs when they were done playing with him.
We almost lost him last Christmas when Ava forgot to put Jesus back, and we searched and searched and searched. Then, Ava remembered that she had put baby Jesus in her play oven. Hilarious!! Another wonderful memory of Christmases gone by.
Soon, the lights will be twinkling, and the house all aglow, and baby Jesus will take his rightful place - "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed..."
Now Trish - to the closet you go!! There are marvelous trinkets of tradition and glorious memories awaiting.