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So much about things at The Mom’s involves straightening out and untangling. There are so many things that get bunched up and put away wrong that it’s impossible to list them all. However, at Christmas, it seems the decor, and strings of fairy lights, are by far the biggest offenders.

I saw, at some point before Christmas, one of the big supermarkets here, I think it was Tesco, was hiring for someone to come and be their fairy lights untangler. I know not if this was a joke, though part of me hopes it was, another, bigger part of me hopes it was not. Because that is a real service we need. And one that cannot be provided by an app or the internet.

I imagined this poor soul, who would’ve been paid minimum wage at best, arriving at work on his or her first day to a mountain of a mess of electrical wires. This person would be tasked with something like Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and in fulfilling their job requirements would somehoww manage to cleanse all of us of our Christmas-related sins. Imagine what a gift that would be.

What I’d also like to imagine is that if this was a call-out service. And one that The Mom might avail herself of.

This poor person would turn up at her house to find The Mom near tears of frustration, probably with a bottle of wine to hand.

“Hello, Ma’am, how can I help?” the untangled might ask.

They would then find several old plastic shopping bags thrown at their feet, with strange bits of wire poking out, and a funny crinkling noise (which would, of course, be the sound of the lights and their plastic encasements hitting the hardwood floor and breaking, like the sound of a million Legos hitting the floor).

“This!” The Mom would shout. “Fix this!” She would then crumple to the floor and weep.

The untangler would move slowly and quietly. “Okay, I’m just going to take these to another room, shut the door, and emerge only when the strings of lights can be put outside. Or on your tree. I don’t suppose you know how I might tell the difference between the indoor and outdoor ones?”

The Mom’s answer would be something in a yelp and a sob.

The untangler would simply nod and back away. This method would be covered extensively in the training, I assume.

Some days later, this poor soul would emerge, pale, thin, and broken with a few strings that have been untangled and a bag full of lights that are impossible to deal with.

The lights would be thrust in The Mom’s direction, the unusable ones in their old shopping bag thrown at her feet, and the only sound would be that of the untangler’s feet running away and the door slamming behind them.

Then, The Mom would be left to put them up herself. She would be thrilled to the point of cooing, as she happily strung up the lights (and not herself).

The problem would arise of course when she decides to take them all down. Some years she doesn’t take the outside ones down because she figures she’ll only have to put them up again, so really, what’s the point? These are the better years. It’s when she’s overcome with the desire to take them all down that things go truly pear-shaped. This is because she only ever wants things done quickly. And refuses to go to the hardware store to see if they have some nifty new device that might help.

I’m usually around on the day she decides to undecorate. I’ve learned that this is a day I ought to make myself as scarce as possible. I’m happy to help her out around the house, and see it as the least I can do when I’m home. But I draw the line at the Christmas lights. It’s too much for me. And I have only so much patience.

This year, I was too ill with cold to leave the house, and so I watched her do the dirty deed. We have a fake Christmas tree and it finally dawned on me what the best solution would be: just don’t take the decorations down from the tree. Or at least the lights. This would make everything so much easier. She used to take the whole tree apart but now just wraps it in a sheet and puts it in the basement. Surely it would be much easier to just keep the lights on. Then, next year, all she need do is take it out, stand it up, and plug it in. Everything else can be added around the lights.

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