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Whidbey decorates for Easter

Barbara Lister sits on her front porch which she’s donned with dozens of Easter decorations. Lister decorates her Oak Harbor home for every holiday in hopes of bringing some cheer to her neighbors. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Barbara Lister sits on her front porch which she’s donned with dozens of Easter decorations. Lister decorates her Oak Harbor home for every holiday in hopes of bringing some cheer to her neighbors.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

After 126 surgeries, battling lymphoma and fighting through fibromyalgia, Oak Harbor resident Barbara Lister has a thing or two to say about using time wisely. As Lister puts it, people’s clocks start ticking once they take their first breath at birth, so there’s no reason to put off the things they want to get done.

Lister has had a life full of experiences from teaching art to the blind to outrunning the Mount  St. Helen’s eruption to comforting gray whales trapped in Alaskan ice to witnessing the Bakersfield earthquake to being married to her sweetheart for nearly 50 years; so she’s not worried about not having enough adventures. Lister’s focus is on making sure the people in her life know how important they are to her, and one of the ways she says she displays that appreciation is through the Easter decorations.

Currently, Lister’s yard on the corner of Quince Street and Fort Nugent Avenue is covered in ducklings, chimes, greeting signs, stuffed bunnies and Easter eggs. Lister decorates her house for every holiday and said she even starts bringing out silk flowers in February just to add some color to dreary winter days.

She has more than 30 boxes of holiday decorations and said her yard is never really without some splash. She said as a holiday approaches, she’ll slowly start phasing in pieces, adding a few seasonal flowers here and there or sticking smaller decorations inside her potted plants, until finally everything is out.

“It kind of sneaks up on people until all of the sudden it goes ‘POP!’” she said. “It looks like a Hallmark store threw up on my house.”

Lister said she was excited in 1997 to finally move into her own house where she could decorate away without having to seek a landlord’s approval. She said it’s nice to be able to go outside with a pocket full of twist ties and a loaded box and get to work.

But Lister’s effort isn’t really about a devotion to the holiday spirit, though she certainly has one. She said her goal is to simply to bring a smile to the face of a loved one or neighbor.

Because of Lister’s health problems, she isn’t able to comfortably be out and about that often, so she had to come up with another way to wish her friends well.

“You always have people you wish you would have said things to, and this is my way of doing it,” Lister said. “This is my greeting card to the whole city. I like getting things to people that bring them to a happier place.”

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