Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)
TITLE: Tis The Season
By Deborah Engle
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The fresh, aromatic Douglas Fir was beautiful, if slightly crooked. Candy canes, ornaments, and garlands were all set aside until the most essential task was accomplished; the very first items to go on the tree had to be the lights, for what is a Christmas tree without any lights?
Strand after strand emerged from the box. New bulbs were needed here and there, but the spare ones were nowhere to be found. My ‘quick’ trip to the store soon became an extended quest for the only bulbs that would do. Triumph turned to dismay when I returned to find that Whiskers and Patches had ‘pitched in’ during my absence, stringing Christmas lights all through the house. Shedding my wet boots, I ventured forth in shock, and my unsuspecting stockinged feet discovered loose… “OUCH!” …er…broken bulbs scattered across the floor. Under tables and over chairs, I found mingled streams of lights where lights should never be found-even wrapped around poor Whiskers.
After freeing the little imp, I impatiently retrieved every line, and my peeved fingers went to work tugging at and bullying away the tangles, unmindful of chafing or pain. My scowls did nothing to discourage the four-legged hooligans. The abrupt ending of their game had not pleased them and they lurked nearby, hoping for more in spite of my stern rebuke.
Many minutes later, the confusion of lights was tamed, and the tedious process of positioning them in the tree began. It was slow work to get the spacing just right. Once around, twice around, three…but what was that? Vibrations like that aren’t natural, even in wobbly, lop-sided Christmas trees. Confused, I looked up from my work to see a pair of glowing green eyes, just as Whiskers leaped out of the tree onto my shoulder. His attempts to reclaim the lights combined with my attempts to regain control of them only resulted in a juggling act that sent the strands of lights twirling and bouncing in every direction. Behind me, Patches responded without hesitation to the irresistible temptation. When I stepped back to regain my balance, his unseen presence sent me sprawling to the floor, with the tree following close behind.
When I could breath again, I opened my eyes to see two furry faces intently watching, as if awaiting my next performance. Two against one really isn’t fair. “You delinquents are going to the basement-as soon as I get out from under this tree!” Extricating myself from the tangled web of lighting, I looked about for the defiant duo, but they must have been offended, for they were both scurrying away. Catching a glimpse of a fluffy tail, I approached the kitchen. Patches was settling underneath the table, but Whiskers was nowhere to be seen. “Well, if that’s the way you’re going to play, so be it! One at a time it is,” I fumed.
Patches seemed more than happy to put some distance between us, and willingly ran down the stairs when I opened the door. Whiskers didn’t cooperate as easily. When I finally found him, he led me on a frantic chase through the entire house before I cornered him in the bathtub. “To the basement for you. I’ve got several hours of work ahead of me, and you and your sidekick are not going to help!” My explanation for his banishment did not satisfy him.
Outside, the wind howled as the snowstorm raged. Inside, Christmas music and a crackling fire, together with a fully decorated Christmas tree, made for a cozy setting on this December evening. Curled up on the couch, a mug of hot cocoa warming my hands, my eyes were drawn to the entrancing sparkle of the lights reflecting off the ornaments. With Whiskers in my lap and Patches at my feet, the tranquil beauty and peace renewed my spirit.
Back in the corner, I caught sight of an overlooked box, and I smiled over my new purchase. The label on the box read: One 7-Foot Tall, Pre-Lit Douglas Fir Christmas Tree.
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