Retirement starts with a bang for Bartoo

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When Amy Bartoo throws a retirement party, she does it up right. Her husband, Gary, was feted at a celebration of his 40-year career in physical therapy on Sunday afternoon at the Lake City Center. I’m not sure the occupancy limit of the center but I’m sure that the standing-room-only crowd was maxing out the space.

Gary was good-naturedly roasted and toasted, with his one-time boss and longtime friend Joe Morris serving as master of ceremonies. We heard funny and touching stories of how Gary’s passion for the work transformed lives, but we also heard stories from high school friends, colleagues and community members. It was a joyful gathering for one of the really good guys.

As we all listened to Gary’s humble and grateful closing remarks, I couldn’t help but think that the only thing missing was Harry Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life” showing up in uniform and offering a toast to Gary Bartoo, the richest man in town.

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Taryn Thompson was having one of those Mondays which was capped by an experience while shopping at Michael’s. Says Taryn, “I kept hearing this god-awful screeching like someone squeaking their wet tennis shoes along the floor or nails on a chalkboard. I was thinking maybe it was a cranky baby with a hoarse throat. Maybe the batteries were dying in one of those animated holiday decorations. Nope.”

(I should insert here that Taryn has what she describes as an irrational fear of birds ever since watching the horror classic, “The Birds.”)

Back to Taryn: “Do you know what it was? A bird. I turned the corner into an aisle and almost ran head-on into a lady with a parrot-looking bird perched on her shoulder. A bird. In the craft store.”

Taryn wonders, as do I, are therapy birds now a thing?

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For decades our house was one of the most brightly-lit and decorated in the neighborhood. My husband was a good sport to make it a wonderland for me and our daughters. Every year on the day after Christmas, I’d hit the sales and buy even more lights and outdoor decor that I’d spring on him the next year. Our neighbors would give Bert a hard time about making them look bad if they didn’t up their lighting game.

Now, unless one or more of the daughters and their families are here for Christmas, we are noticeably minimalist with our outdoor lights. Only a simple border of lights around our front living room window and a wreath on the front door gives a hint of the season.

We have a new family with young children living next door and chuckle to see the dad up on a ladder stringing lights on the house and adorning the shrubs and trees. There are two big holiday inflatables by the front porch.

We were tempted to gift him with the giant plywood candy canes and gingerbread men that surrounded our yard for years, but now just gather dust in the storage shed. But who knows, one of these years Bert just may get nostalgic for a holiday house and yard that rivals the Griswolds’.

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Holiday Things to Do:

Decorate festive Christmas cookies with Mrs. Claus at the Rathdrum Public Library Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Call for information on registering, (208) 687-1029.

Traditions of Christmas opens Friday at 7 p.m. at the Kroc Center. Shows continue weekends through December 31 with matinées and evening shows. www.traditionsofchristmasnw.com.

Breakfast with Santa at the Boys and Girls Club in Coeur d’Alene on Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. 100 percent of proceeds go to the Christmas for Kids program.

Fourth Annual Reindeer Run 5K, Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., registration 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. The festive 3.1-mile run is a flat out-and-back course using McEuen Park, City Park and the “Dike Road.” A portion of the proceeds and any donations will go to Idaho Community Action Food Bank. Cost is $22. First 150 participants receive a Reindeer Run pint glass! Registration available in person or by phone at Fleet Feet Cd’A.

The Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association, First Presbyterian Downtown, and Trinity Lutheran join up for a Live Neigh-tivity! There will be a live animal petting stable, manger scene photo booth, carolers, hot chocolate and gifts, all for free at Sherman Square Park from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hauser Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s 32nd Annual Shalena’s Breakfast With Santa at the fire station. Breakfast prepared and served by the firefighters, auxiliary and their families. Photos with Santa, raffle. www.hauserfire.org

The annual Sounds of Christmas event featuring the NIC Cardinal Chorale directed by Max Mendez, and the NIC Wind Symphony directed by Bryan Hannaford. 2 p.m. in Schuler Performing Arts Center in Boswell Hall on Sunday.

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Happy birthday today to Kathy McDowell, Melanie Chun, Jocelyn Stott, Jennifer Hawkins and Kylie Allen. Thursday Nathan Smalley, Dean Opsal, CJ Deacon, Catherine Cronin, Rhonda Newton and Randy Duncan take another trip around the sun. Friday Tammy Schneider (60!), Kelly Ferguson and Becky McIntire Bufeuillet are blowing out the candles. Tammie Peacock, Lori Isenberg, Cecilia Fehling, Cheri Banta, Melissa Williams and Cindy Jarnagin celebrate on Saturday. Dick Wandrocke, Shannon Clark, Richard Carlson (60!), Matthew Lemieux, Gavin Broadwater and Donna Cushman put on their party hats on Sunday. On Monday, Christina Petit, Kathy Hughes (60!), Stephanie Hunter, Michael Matt, Katrina Mayer, Kym Hamby (40!), Shawn Gunn, Leigh Sales and Aleta English take another trip around the sun. Twelve is the lucky number for Alexis Davis, Sialas Tripp, Dr. Mary Sanderson, Amy Alderman, John Austin, Mary Finley, Teresa Capone (60!), Mark Orlowski, Konrad Hochhalter, Monte Miller, Richard Stevenette, Colleen Williams, Dave Sayers, Lynn Knapp and Jessica White for their 12/12 birthdays.

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Postscript: If you want to feel rich, just count all of the gifts you have that money can’t buy.

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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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