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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Originally published December 10, 2010

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

The more the merrier at the holidays, I always say.

So when houseguests stay longer than expected, like the painters at work in my house, I try and make the best of it. The painters are completing a renovation that was supposed to be done before the holidays, but as these things go, they’re not quite finished.

Treating the painters like family, same as I do all my houseguests, makes having them around a little easier. When I hear strains of “Feliz Navidad” coming through the walls from the painters’ radio, I call out “Can you turn the music down?” (It’s what I’m always asking my kids.)

When coming for a visit, painters bring a lot of stuff, but I’m learning to work with it. Their white drop cloths, which are underfoot everywhere, have taken some of the effort out of holiday decorating. I no longer worry about dribbling pine needles all over the floor, while adorning tabletops and mantels with greens. It only takes a couple of shakes of the drop cloth out the door, instead of multiple laps with the vacuum. Also, the drop cloths simulate snow nicely, giving the house a seasonal something extra.

With painters constantly around, I don’t ever have to be alone with my thoughts. So when I’m in the kitchen debating whether I prefer the rugelach cookies I baked with apricot preserves or the ones without, I have a painter taste them and give me an opinion. (I’ll be baking more without apricot for the holidays.)

Lucky for me, there’s always an extra pair of hands. When I can’t quite manage opening the door, while balancing boxes of gifts I’m taking to the post office, a painter nearby steps in to help. As I turn to go, I say to him, “Can you lock up behind me?”

When setting up for a holiday gathering, the painters are also a big help in figuring out party flow. I note whenever they head from the living room to the dining room, they take the roundabout route through the center hall. It makes me think that’s where I should set up the drinks table.

The biggest challenge during this hectic season is getting time to myself. The painters have an uncanny ability of finding me, even when I lock myself in the bathroom to take a long winter’s bath.

But if I didn’t have so many guests in the house, it wouldn’t feel quite like the holidays. It always feels like a big let down, when things quiet down in January

This year, however, things might be different. I’m not sure the painters will be done by Christmas.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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