Being a good husband takes common sense

Being a good husband takes common sense

“Maybe,” my wife said, “we won’t decorate the house this year.”

Her unexpected remark flopped there, like a dying fish wriggling on the dock, and I struggled to formulate an appropriate response.

Instead, I headed back to the stereo room where I listened as Notre Dame blew a late lead and lost to Ohio State, just another dismal moment in a weekend that started off badly and simply got worse.

Why, I asked myself, would the woman in my life suggest something so antithetical to the way we’ve always handled the holidays? What could be her possible motivation?

It didn’t take me long to formulate a cogent three-pronged analysis.

First, there’s a very good chance the house we’ve rented since arriving here in Eastern North Carolina in the fall of 2000 will be sold in the spring. It’s something we’ve known might happen for some time, but recent events have made it much more likely.

Then there’s the matter of my health. Although a series of blood and urine tests seem to have eased worries over my enlarged prostate, my “long COVID” — if, indeed, that’s what I’m dealing with — is a nasty condition that isn’t going to abate anytime soon.

And finally, there’s the whole idea that we have been kicking back and forth for a while, the one that suggests it’s probably time to head back home and pick up our lives for the next chapter. I mean, after 23 years, it’s not going to appear as if we didn’t make a stand.

The ocean, in particular, pretty much jumped the shark this summer, if you’ll pardon the pun, inasmuch that between the rip currents, the deadly heat and problematic people who always seem to show up exactly where we decide to decamp have combined in an unholy alliance to make nearly every trip to the beach a hassle.

I know what you’re probably thinking.

“For goodness' sake, Mike,” I hear you saying, “do you know how many of us haven’t seen the Atlantic in years and years? And you and your wife can just hop in the car and go anytime you want!”

You take a breath and add, “What in the world’s wrong with you?”

And I get it, believe me, I do.

But you have to understand something. Too much of a good thing — be it steamed oysters or walks on the beach — can grow tiresome.

When I was back home last month for my 50th high school reunion, I marveled in the mundane minutiae of small-town life that I’m fairly certain passes way under most folks’ radar, things like the sweet aroma of freshly mown grass or the sound of a high school band practicing on a summer morning, the percussive strains of “Hang On, Sloopy” reaching your ears as you savor the sensation.

There was something deeply reassuring about knowing that at any moment, someone might recognize you as you walked in places you hadn’t been in five full years. I’m telling you, that was grand.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s my fault I haven’t made many friends in the 275 or so months I’ve called North Carolina home. I tend to rely on old habits and familiar routines, not a lifestyle that lends itself easily to feeling anything but alienated.

Also factor in the truism that no matter how long you may have lived in the South, you’re always going to be considered an outsider, a never-native, a Yankee, just an intruder from up North.

Again, I’m not complaining. I’m just telling you what it’s felt like.

And now it’s fall and time to begin dragging those plastic crates full of Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations from the garage into the house, an annual event that had never seemed like an odious chore up until the minute my wife suggested we just don’t even bother this time around. That threw me for a loop.

But when I looked at it from her point of view — Good Husbanding 101 — I understood what she meant. My job is simple — haul in the boxes — while hers is immensely more complicated, something that involves removing many items while replacing them with more seasonal things, all the while using a superb decorator’s touch.

No wonder she’s thinking about deep-sixing the whole ordeal.

And it’d only get worse early in December. We have fully five times as many plastic tubs crammed with snowmen and Santas, Dickens characters, “Peanuts” figurines, nativity statuettes, Notre Dame keepsakes and a “Polar Express” train that runs around the sunroom floor, not to mention the hundreds of souvenir and sentimental ornaments that hang on seven separate Christmas trees.

I try to be as helpful as I can during the house’s transformation each year, but it’s clear my wife is a maestro and I play a kazoo.

What I can’t forget to describe, however, is the ethereal beauty and sublime calm that bathes our home when the job has been completed and you realize that for the next two months, you’ll be able to bask in the glow of thousands of lights, inside and out, knowing that even if no one else ever sees it, the two of you will.

There is love in that, my friends, and I don’t want to give that up.

Mike Dewey can be reached at and 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC. Join the fun on his Facebook page.

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