The Winter Break

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Rachel Yates
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Defining Moves

The Winter holidays have begun in earnest, and the Other Half is seized with a frenzy of DIY. Usually obsessed by endless unintelligible spreadsheets on his laptop, he has finally broken the mold and is actually spending some of his vacation time away from the screen. Thus attention previously gripped by scheduling is now turned to the general household chaos, and he has found a new hobby - optimizing the lights.

For  most of us, this would be a pretty black and white operation - you notice a lightbulb has blown, you rummage through the box labelled 'lightbulbs and candles' and you install a replacement. You flick the switch; if the light illuminates you smile and walk away and if it doesn't you repeat the process twice before abandoning it.

The OH has a far more Big Game Hunting approach, however. He roams the house, restlessly flicking switches on and off until he finds his prey. He then seeks out a ladder from the depths of the shed - no making do with a kitchen chair for the highly trained illumination officer - and after consulting the official Health and Safety Guide for Ladders, he informs the household of impending ladder usage and correct behavior, cones off the area, confines the dogs to their kennels and finally ascends the ladder to remove the offending bulb. This is then transported, carefully wrapped in kitchen towel, to the local DIY store, where a replacement options are considered and finally purchased, along with a Snickers bar to replace lost calories from ladder use.

On return, he reascends the steps, installs bulb and tests the switch. This results in one of two reactions. In the case of successful illumination, the entire family are assembled to watch as the switch is repeatedly flicked on and off, and gasps of amazement congruent with the sighting of an angel throng are expected. If unsuccessful, swearing ensues, and the phrase "Oh, that one's broken" must be forever used to explain its darkness. If he was in charge of the Star of Bethlehem, the Wise Men and Shepherds would still be wandering the lands, and the Baby Jesus would have remained resolutely gift-less.

After two days and three lights, he has now run out of projects, and has turned to the kitchen cabinetry. The Feisty One, however, is keeping a weather eye and a cynical heart on things. Yesterday, she bounced into the room to inform me that "Dad has been really busy!".

"You know that cupboard in the kitchen with the door that doesn't close properly?"

"Yes - has Dad fixed it?"

She's a shrewd one, my daughter, and has excellent attention to detail, and a somewhat cruelly honest nature. Her reply?

"Well, he's been poking it with a screwdriver, and it's not any worse."

It's our own little Christmas miracle.