Frustrations arrive before Christmas joy

‘Tis the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. Well, for a day or so this past week, with the passing of President George Herbert Walker Bush, that was true.

By now we’re back to the hustle, bustle and stress of the Christmas season. I stopped sending Christmas cards years ago, mainly because I am not content with just signing our names to a card; each card must have a personal message and sentiment for the recipient. And that takes a lot of time!

If I started in early November I might have them ready, but I’m not that organized.

I stopped making Christmas cookies even longer ago. When I was young and full of pith and vinegar I made the most delightful sugar cookies in shapes of reindeer, snowmen and bells, all intricately decorated in multi colors. I gifted them to nieces and nephews.

By the time my children came along I’d already lost the desire to be so meticulous. They got sugar cookies with frosting slapped haphazardly on them. Now the only cut-out cookies anybody gets are those that are given to us.

The biggest time consumer, in my opinion, is the stringing of lights on the tree, the fireplace mantle and/or staircase. First on the list of things to do is find the extension cords that will reach to the outlets that are always in the wrong places. My husband thinks of an extension cord as the 50-foot orange covered drop cords that he uses in the garage and for the outside lights.

Every year I have to explain that I do not want 50 feet of orange cord running through the house; all I want to know is where did the nice, white (or brown) extension cords get put from last year. Then the task of plugging in each string of lights starts. Have you ever noticed that a perfectly good string from last year is never good this year? Half the string has mysteriously burned out over the summer. Three burned out lights, or a missing light, will take out an entire string.

And so, we dutifully, in the name of economy, test each light, hunting for the faulty ones, replacing them with lights that were good a minute ago, but now inexplicably don’t light. Three strings for the large tree in the living room; plus the lights for the stair garland; added to the lights on the mantle; and being me, additional lights for the Christmas tree that goes into the family room. Not one tring is fully lit. We have a ziplock bag where we put those lights that have tested positive to use in the unlit portions of strings. Unfortunately, we most often can’t find the bag the next year.

Frustration reigns at our house during the decorating portion of the season. There is no peace or goodwill by the time we get everything lit. In fact, I am contemplating getting lit myself next year and throwing out all the partially working lights and just buying new. Who knows what the tariff on Chinese made Christmas lights will cost? At this point, who cares.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to