Home on the range

Twinkle envy

Home on the Range

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They have Santa and carols and presents under the tree. We have potato pancakes. I'm good with this division of revelry.

Except for the lights. Lights are pretty. They're twinkly. In the cold, dark season, they offer pretty, twinkly cheerfulness.

It occurs to me that I, too, could string up pretty, twinkly cheerfulness. After all, it's not a tenet; it's a tradition. A tradition as old as cold and dark, as comforting as campfire.

So, while cruising Home Depot, I steer my cart to the twinkle department. There are pastels and brights, stars and garlands, elves and mammoth flashing reindeer, poised midleap. There are subtleties: LED, solar and "commercial grade." An elf tending his own flock of reindeer shows me around. I choose a simple white strand.

I spend the next three hours standing on my porch, trapped in 297 feet of green cord and white bulbs. There are untangling and wrapping and hooking up. Revealing lights that won't light. Followed by unwrapping, unknotting, swearing and searching for the scissors.

At dusk I plug in my potted plant and it glows with 150 poorly dispersed dots of commercial-grade, small, white light. My shrub and I shrug.

Fortunately, I can quit now. While they're trying to shimmy down the chimney and fell a tree and sing in tune, I get to order Thai takeout and flick on a flick. Maybe I'll pick a DIY title from Home Depot. They must have one that explains the trick to twinkle.

Thai-style crispy duck

Prep: 10 minutes
Wait: 1 hour
Cook: 25 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:
1 boneless duck breast (about 1 pound), skin-on
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small chili pepper, chopped
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