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Clickbait ahead | Five ways to get rid of your Key West holiday guests

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

12/01/2021

Happy Key West Christmas Parade Saturday, my friends. I’m in Des Moines for a few days taking care of a family thing. Rather than skip a week, I dug into the archives and thought this one from December 2019, would work.

Keep your fingers crossed. With a little luck Delta will fly me back to the island just about the time today’s Key West parade kicks off. I need a peek at Santa. PS: This was written just weeks before Covid. Interestingly, despite all the changes over two years, the advice holds true.
And, now, on to five ways to survive the swarm of holiday guests.

Whew. Turkey leavings gone for another year. First wave of visiting family and house guests departed. Ditto Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (Well, those last two are zombies; they never die.)

Anyway, on to the good stuff: Christmas! Or season. Or holidays. Your pick. This is a column about house guests, not vocabulary. These are the weeks when December spills into Super Bowl. The weeks that encompass upwards of 20 religious holidays; some of pure faith and others co-opted to sell first world stuff.

Ten weeks or so when those “come visit” chits we tossed with abandon flutter back to the porch. Bless their hearts, the house guests — and our island visitors — arrive. It’s about to get crowded, crazy, wonderful and the very definition of love-hate.

We really can’t send them packing — though you have to admit there are times when (a) we should; or, (b) we did; or, (c) we dreamed. But we can carve out some quiet time. Here are five ways to remind yourself why you love Key West and to shake the house guests out of your head for a few minutes:

  1. Do the dark-thirty. Set the alarm before sunrise, drag out the bike or walking shoes and wander the island. Heck, at that hour, a car’s OK. Key West’s asleep or moving slowly in the hour before daylight. I took a friend to the airport last week to catch the dark-thirty Delta flight, then ran an errand near the Green Parrot. Shared the streets with the Waste Management folks and few others. Stars, festive holiday lights, a rooster crowing and a reminder that, not only is there peace in the quiet, but the Key West that folks remember in their dreams is still there in the dark-thirty. I know the early-rising exercisers are saying “no duh,” and the workers are rolling their collective eyes. But, yeah, give yourself a gift of dark-thirty once in a while.
  2. Pick a beach. Toes in the water; butt in the sand, to paraphrase Zac Brown. Not for the whole day, mind you. Leave the usual paraphernalia behind. Heaven knows, no phone. Just you for an hour or so. Doing nothing except breathing deeply, which you can do now that winter chill and wind direction has banished the sargassum stink. Island water is magical; we get so busy we forget.
  3. Watch a sunset. Cliche, huh? Key West goes gaga for sunsets; it’s our thing. But when was the last time you did a sunset that didn’t involve an event or a happy hour? Just a plain, ol’ vanilla sunset? There’s always Mallory Square, but how about the cemetery? The White Street Pier? Fort Zach? Truman Waterfront Park? Heck, even facing west in the street in front of your house will work. (Disclaimer: Not recommended without a spotter if your house is on a main drag.)
  4. Sweep your street. Don’t even think about revving up that leaf blower. Grab a broom or, better, use that Washingtonian palm frond broom you’ve got stashed in some corner. Sweep the sidewalk and street curbside in front of your place (home and business), then keep going to the neighbors’. Pick up the junk and toss for the good folks from Waste Management next week. There are few things as therapeutic as street sweeping.
  5. Hand the 1-4 list to your house guests, send them on their ways with a grin and a “have fun; see you in an hour or so” — then slam the door, lock it and take a nap in peace and quiet.

(Originally published 12-07-2019 and updated on 12-01-2021)

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