It’s like hitting replay every year. Jim Brawner unloads all the plastic tubs down from the attic and garage and I dig through them. Sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by piles of tangles, I know I didn’t put things away like that in January, so how do they mysteriously end up such a mess. I stare at the bundles like elves will suddenly appear and untangle them. Then I vow and promise to do a better job after Christmas this year. One year maybe I will.

I don’t do well with tangles. They look so impossible. I remember when I was about 10 bringing a wadded up thin gold chain to my dad. In tears I whined, “It’s ruined! I’ll never get it fixed. Every time I try to get the knots out they just get tighter.”

He took it from me and said, “Let’s see what we can do.” Patiently he laid it on the kitchen table and began gently taping on each knot and as it loosened he untangled it. Ten minutes later my necklace was fixed. I was amazed, “How did you do that?”

“It takes a few minutes and you have scrounge up some patience, but you have to go after one knot at a time,” he smiled.

When life itself gets tangled and messy, I consider what Dad said. Every time I yank and pull trying to straighten things out, the knots just get tighter. Then it usually dawns on me that it’s mostly likely going to take some time and patience.

So when the plastic tubs come down this week and the elves don’t show up again, I’ll make a cup of coffee and take on the strings of lights one knot at a time.

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