All decked out for the holidays

Linda Wyatt gets an early start
on the upcoming season by
decorating before Thanksgiving
Sunday, November 21, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:44 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The light taps of a hammer break the silence in the front yard of Linda Wyatt’s Hallsville home.

She and three of her children line up beside the white front porch, piles of garland in hand. It’s 2 p.m. on Halloween, and the family is already putting up winter holiday decorations —12 boxes of tiny white lights and 13 strands of thick, forest-green garland.

“We always decorate before Thanksgiving,” says Linda, 63, as she divides garland strands. She hands sections of the plastic evergreen branches to her children — a few of the 91 children she has adopted or raised through foster care.

Decorating the Wyatt home became tradition, and this year, Jessie, 21, and Sky and Katie, both 15, continue the monotonous yet rewarding task.

Five-year-old Blake, the lone boy in the group and Linda’s grandson, hands nails to the young women.

Each inch of garland is carefully laid along the fence. Linda’s helpers work diligently in their designated spots next to the porch. Katie wraps her delicate fingers around and through the rough garland, adjusting each branch’s wire into the shape of a perfect evergreen.

“Katie, are you still working on that same strand of garland?” Sky jokingly asks. Katie giggles but continues working.

The entire porch begins to look like a seamless green drapery lining the edges of the home.


Sky Wyatt, left, relaxes on the porch with her mother, Linda Wyatt, after two hours of hard work. More garland lies near Sky’s feet waiting to be hung around the outside of the home. (Debra Gulbas/MISSOURIAN)

Linda then brings out a tangled web of green electrical cords with tiny white lights. Sky, Katie and Jessie work in unison to untangle the lines.

Just as the lights are untwisted, Blake taps Katie on the back, teasing her into a game of tag.

As Blake gives chase, Katie rushes across the front lawn.

For now, work time is over.

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