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Hart Beat

Lighting up my little corner of the world

It's time for Sunnyside's annual Lighted Farm Implement Parade. I can tell because everywhere I look people are in a decorating frenzy, hanging up strings of colored lights in their front yards and on anything that doesn't move.

A person can't turn around without seeing evidence of over-eager holiday decorators who've spent hours festooning the exterior of their homes with colored lights.

A would-be holiday decorator myself, I admire those who have braved the cold to stand outside in order to be the first on their block to "light-up" for Christmas. Kudos to you.

But it is my theory that if you're the first on your block to get the outdoor decorating done, your neighbors will try to outshine you by stealing your ideas and adding a few of their own. After all, everyone knows that holiday lighting is a competitive sport.

Well, maybe not, but it sometimes feels like that, which is why I always practice by first doing my home's interior.

I've nearly always made myself sick engaging in my annual extreme indoor holiday make-over. I start on the day after Thanksgiving. I begin by dragging out my massive assortment of holiday ornaments and tangled strings of burnt-out lights, all jammed haphazardly in Rubbermaid canisters.

This year, for reasons I'm still not clear about, I pre-sorted all my decorations by categories. I created quite a mess in my living room organizing numerous piles of snowmen angels and Santas. Don't even get me started on the untold number of piles of odds and ends of other holiday ornaments. What a mess.

Daughter Sarah lent a hand by generously offering to detangle my tree lights. She even separated them by color for me and tested for burnt out lights.

This year, I seem to have a lot of red lights, which prompted me to threaten to buy a bunch of blue lights for a patriotic theme in the front yard. Sarah is holding me back, encouraging me to get the inside done first.

"Wait," she tells me. "You can do the outdoors next Friday night or Saturday morning.

"It's too cold right now," she tells me, like it might get warmer later. Yeah - in July!

Still, I took her advice. And after two days of sorting, I agreed to limit my efforts to distributing the ornaments and my trees around the house.

Still, it's a complicated process for a woman who only has five rooms to decorate, if you count the laundry room. The way I go about it, a person might think I was planning on decorating the White House.

Armed with my trusty step stool, a hammer and a couple of nails, I set out to load each room of my little cottage with tabletop vignettes and ornament-covered trees. No bare spot is left uncovered. Even the bathroom is hit with my decorating mania, being transformed into a crazy Christmas Mardi Gras theme.

But after more than 20 hours of stepping on and off my little step stool, I noticed something quite uncomfortable.

I can't get out of my chair without groaning and grimacing in pain. My collection of aches are furthered complicated by the onset of December's usual dreary weather. And blast it all, I've yet to put the coup de grace on my humble abode.

I just hope by Saturday night, the muscles in the backs of my flabby thighs and calves will have returned to normal.

I'd sure hate to have my neighbors mistake my admiring "oohs and ahhs" for "moans and groans" as I admire Saturday night's lighted parade entries.

Hope to see you there. I promise to make all noises sound like enthusiastic approval.

Oh, and if you happen to drive through my neighborhood, please honk so I'll know my efforts also pass muster.

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