It’s gotta hurt so good to be real

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. – George Eliot

At the risk of looking tacky, I'm thinking about putting up my Christmas lights in October, while temperatures are pretty close to perfect.

With the mercury rising to about 65 degrees by day and dipping to only 48 or 50 in the evening, I could decorate the whole house in Bermuda shorts and a sleeveless shirt.

Since the sun does not set until 8 p.m. or so, I'd have all day to twist garland, tie bows and string lights, while sipping lemonade and wiping sweat from my brow.

Why not? Retail stores are stocked for Christmas, and I heard holiday music on the radio the other day. I even thought I saw jolly old Saint Nick on TV. No, wait a minute … that was former Senator Tom Delay in his jump suit on Dancing with the Stars.

Every year at this time, as each day slips by, I think about how I should be dragging out boxes marked "XMAS."

But then I wonder how will I get into the spirit of Christmas if I have to douse myself with bug repellent before venturing outside.

It's just that stringing holiday lights in the warmth of long harvest days seems way too painless for me.

In my opinion, it has to hurt to be genuine holiday decorating.

When is the right time to decorate, you ask? Well, let me count the ways.

You know it's time to put up outdoor decorations when…

You anticipate spending four hours or more fumbling around in cheerless darkness searching for every gosh darn plastic wreath and all those little hooks to hang lights from the eaves.

You put on three or four layers of thermal clothing, you can hardly walk, fall down, can't get back up and cry for help.

Your Christmas cards shatter when you accidentally drop them.

Your nose is running and it takes four blocks to catch it.

A glacier begins to pass by your house.

Your grandmother's dentures chatter all by themselves.

You actually don't mind spilling your cup of coffee all over you lap.

And you immediately regret waiting until the cold dark reaches of December to decorate.

Even after all of this, you know for certain it's time to put up your outdoor decorations when you have an unexplainable feeling of peace as you string lights, tie bows, hang wreaths and so on….
 
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.

2009© Paula Damon

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