By LIZ VERLEY, Staff Writer
Carolyn Oswald has been blessed with many talents. From cooking to quilting and decorating for the Christmas holidays, her talents are appreciated by family, friends and acquaintances.
Oswald said, “I used to take off a month before the holidays to do my decorating and baking, now I only take off two weeks.”
A variety of Christmas trees are found in her home. Each one has its own theme. In the corner of her dining room is her friendship tree, which holds decorations given to her by various friends and relatives.
Although small in size, the friendship tree is filled with ornaments, and next year plans call for a larger tree to take over duties of the present tree.
“It takes a while to put up the friendship tree because each ornament brings back a special memory,” said Oswald.
Another tree in the center of her kitchen island is filled with miniature cooking utensils and kitchen accessories. From tiny rolling pins to tiny aprons and frying pans, it is a challenge to count the various decorations that adorn the tree. Underneath the tree are a variety of gift wrapped boxes. The whole tree is surrounded by a train she bought last year which is on display for the first time.
“I love to be in the kitchen; that is how the kitchen tree came about,” she said.
Although she enjoys all her decorations and collects them throughout the year, Oswald said, “My favorite decoration is the manger scene. That is what Christmas is all about. I have two that are on display year around in my curio.”
Oswald and her husband, Andrew, live on a dairy farm near Swanville. She has worked as a cook at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls for the past 23 years.
In April, the couple, who have two children and six grandchildren, will be married 42 years.
Oswald said, “I began decorating the first year we were married and still have some ornaments from that time. I have always collected something. I started with Precious Moments nativity scenes and it just keeps growing.”
She is already planning a new tree for next year which will be decorated with burned-out decorated Christmas tree lights.
Besides the various trees, Oswald also has displays of snowmen and Santas throughout her home.
While decorating for the holiday is a passion, Oswald also loves to cook and bake. This year, along with a sister-in-law, she baked well over 2,000 cookies which will be given away to friends and family.
An example of the variety includes peanut crackers, mocha balls (a family tradition), peanut butter bonbons, chocolate chip cookies, macadamia nut cookies, fudge, pizzelle, salted nut rolls, buckeyes and molasses.
Oswald keeps herself busy all year long, not just during the holidays.
She said, “My mother always said, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.’ I keep busy baking, sewing, quilting but my first love is stitchery. I love to embroider, do counted cross stitching or doing anything creative with my hands.”
Oswald plans on continuing her decorating and baking Christmas treats for many years to come. “Everyone seems to enjoy it,” she said.
For the present time, though, Oswald is looking forward to visits from her children and grandchildren during the holiday season. “It is such a happy time of the year. I hope everyone will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”