Anna, my best friend since I was twelve, has managed to trick me and our mutual friend Jodi into visiting her house on the day following Thanksgiving every year. My friend Gerry joined our group after we graduated high school. In other words, this was not a typical party. To be clear, we did not spend Black Friday in a mall. No, we weren’t in the cinema. No one was being called a boy. No, we weren’t playing with a Ouija board and calling upon the powers of darkness to annihilate every male who rejected us. No. For the holiday season, we were sprucing up Anna’s home. In this case, there were parameters and standards. Notebooks and check lists were available. Anna’s father, Big Vic, followed by her brother, sister, and lastly herself conducted the final rounds of inspections.
The tree served as the initial catalyst. The seven-foot monster at the door required bright, clean illumination. It’s safe to say that he’s not white. It’s unclear. Brilliant illumination. At least a hundred in each outpost. The tree was equipped with its own fuse box. We meticulously covered the entire branch with LEDs so that none of the natural hue was left to show through. All of the lights were left on nonstop beginning on Black Friday and ending on January 6th. She could hear the boats approaching her home and docking right in front of it. A number of attempts were made by helicopters to land on her roof. During one year, I saw her dad’s power bill and it was more than I made working three jobs combined. The lights had to be turned on first, serving as beacons to any space travelers looking for a landing spot, before the decorations could be hung. Decoration balls, 350 of them. A total of 63 feet of garland, split across 4 varieties. There are 84 treasured ornaments in the collection. There were no empty places or clumps of the same color. Villagers congregated beneath the canopy of the tree. The sledders slid down hills fashioned from white tree skirts and cotton stuffing, and ice skaters twirled on a mirror lake, all in this little, battery-operated hamlet. Naughty or nice? Santa’s sleigh and his nine tiny reindeer dangling from a tree limb by a fishing line. In morse code, Rudolph’s nose flashed “help” I believe he understood how miserable we were. After the tree was in place and serving as a beacon for ships on the Delaware River, we went on to the recreation area. Just as well we were working on the Fifth Avenue window display at Macy’s. Each cubby got the same amount of fake snow since we weighed and measured it with kitchen scales. We utilized flour sifters to ensure a consistent coating. When asked who scrawled “I loathe Christmas!” next to the Franklin Mint Godfather commemorative chess set, I take the fifth. It was then time to install the guardrail. Bannisters stretching 500 feet. One kilometer of ribbons. Lighting at a height of 2,000 feet. We relied on rulers to guarantee adequate spacing. There were three stories of steps that had been decked out for the birth of Jesus. Three sages arrived, mistaking the bright lights from the mansion for a star. They presented me with an I Roc Z and five pinky rings, as well as Blu-ray copies of all three “Godfather” films. It wasn’t a pro bono effort on our part. A bowl of Anna’s penne spaghetti in vodka sauce was my downfall. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Mama didn’t gain weight by skipping meals. The pasta used to be so good. That condiment is what I really long for. When I’m alone, I long for company. I love that second sun of a tree so much in my best friend’s living room that I would willingly sacrifice even more of my eyesight to it.
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