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Standring column: Holiday laughter: Lights, camera - no action

Suzette Martinez Standring
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Cheboygan Daily Tribune

Columns share an author’s personal perspective.

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Here’s another knob on the rutabaga that was 2020. Christmas lights and decorating are very early this year. “I just need some extra cheer,” said a neighbor in November. It took a pandemic for the world to catch up with me.

Since 2017 my house was fully tricked out by mid-November. Why? Because I’ve hosted a holiday party for a community club in early December, held right on the heels of Thanksgiving.

Therefore, our tree and windows were twinkle-ready on a ridiculously early schedule. Whenever David tested the lights, I’d hiss, “Turn those off! Do you want our neighbors to give us the stink-eye? It’s Nov. 15 for crying out loud!”

But in 2020 people were stringing lights with pumpkins still on their porches. No party to plan for made me Old Bess, bringing up the rear, with not even a wreath up by Nov. 28, which felt ridiculously late.

Time to resurrect the tree and trimmings. I gather ornaments, garlands, and holiday hoopla, a minefield of good cheer that fires up my allergies.

David fetches our 8-foot prelit tree. It’s three separately lit sections that must be plugged into one another. But after dragging it upstairs, David drug his feet. “I’m watching the soccer game.”

Meanwhile, I spread out its boughs. It’s a strange ritual, isn’t it? Every year, millions make a fake fir look real, as if it grows naturally where the dog crate usually is.

Two days pass. How much time does it take to plug in the sections? I threaten to do it, and my reputation for breaking, toppling and shorting circuits sparks action.

“No, no, Suze, I’ll do it.”

Voila! Followed by oh-oh.

The white lights are black in the middle. “No worries, Suze, I’ll string some lights there,” and David “fixes” the problem.

Now the leafy dark belt of the tree is wound with motionless colored lights. Above and below, tiny white lights twinkle. It’s like a badly designed Christmas sweater.

One may ask, like my husband did, “Pretty good, right?”

As in seasons of yore, I hiss, “Turn those off! Do you want our neighbors to give us the stink-eye? No, no, no!”

He argues the merits of originality.

My mind flashes to Glenn, our interior designer friend of impeccable taste. I imagine his arched eyebrow.

I reply, “Let me ask you this. If Glenn were here, do you think he’d steal your design idea?”

David pauses. “I’ll go buy more white lights tomorrow.”

Ugh. Another day of bins and boxes strewn across the living room.

“Well, at least, let’s get the window lights up,” I say.

Last year, we had two lighted window “nets” but one died.

So up it goes. We stretch the net of tiny bulbs across the window. We secure and adjust it “just-so” and voila!

Oh-oh, it’s dead. We threw the wrong one out last year!

Keep laughter in your heart this season.

Email Suzette Martinez Standring at suzmar@comcast.net.