Marshall Fields
John Norberg, humor columnist s

The holiday season never seems to end.

If we did in our homes what merchandisers do in their stores we would put up our Christmas trees and lights on the house during Labor Day weekend.

Kids would grow up confused about whether Santa arrives on Halloween or Christmas.

But with the arrival of Thanksgiving weekend we are officially into the traditional holiday season. So itís time to take a moment right now to remember the importance of moderation.

I believe in taking all things in moderation. I especially believe in moderation when it comes to taking things in moderation.

This is the season to eat, drink and be merry for in January we diet. And February. And March. And April. I donít know why it takes twice as long to loose the weight as it does to gain it in the first place.

The one thing I will certainly not take in moderation during the holidays is tradition. This is the time of year when we like to do everything the same, following our lifelong family traditions.

Young woman: "Iím sorry. I love you but we canít get married.íĎ

Young man: "Is it because of our different religions, because I want 10 children and you want one, because youíre a Democrat and Iím a Republican?íĎ

Young woman: "No. We could work those things out. Itís because at Thanksgiving my family eats simple bread stuffing and your family eats oyster stuffing. Canít you see this will never work? Weíll end up spending the holidays every year in a stuffing argument.íĎ

Woe be onto the daughter-in-law who tries to introduce something new when her husbandís whole family gathers at her house for their traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

There are many traditions I hold dear and even sacred during the holidays: The traditional falling off the ladder while putting up the tree; the traditional hours spent untangling lines of Christmas lights that I later discover donít even work; the traditional spilling of tree sap water on the carpet; the traditional having no idea what to buy for my wife.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is a place. Itís a store. And the store is Marshall Fieldís on State Street in Chicago. Donít even bother telling me Macyís bought it and renamed it Macyís. It was wrong for a New York store to rename a Chicago store and I refuse to accept this. Iím upset with Macyís for doing this.

To me the store on State Street will always be Marshall Fieldís. When I was a boy every year our family went downtown to Marshall Fieldís to eat in the Walnut Room beneath the big Christmas tree there.

This is a long tradition. My mother had gone to the Walnut Room with her mother when she was a girl. And in time when my sister, brother and I married our children went there, too. Our grandchildren have eaten Mrs. Herringís Chicken Pot Pie under the Walnut Room Christmas tree, just as people have for more than 100 years. The tree in the Walnut Room today is 45 feet tall and itís artificial. But I can remember the days when it was a real tree. To a young boy it looked 100 feet tall and it was the image of Christmas excitement.

I was at the Marshall Fieldís Store on State Street last weekend and visited the Walnut Room. It was filled with happy families doing just what our family has done. I could see people sitting at tables where I once sat watching Christmas sparkle off the shinny tree in the eyes of our children and grandchildren.

We all love traditions at this time of year because they bring back wonderful memories, memories of places and people, some of them long gone.

Have no moderation this holiday season in your traditions and memories. They are the vanilla glaze frosting that links our past to our future. I started my holiday traditions first thing Thursday morning. I turned on the TV and watched the New York City Marshall Fieldís Thanksgiving Day Parade in front of the Marshall Fieldís Store at Herald Square.

Donít even bother tell me itís Macyís. I know that.

But this is my tradition and Iíll call it what I want.

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