Grit Blogs > Life in the Fast Lane

The Season of Night and Lights

Andrew WeidmanGreen Light

It’s that time of year again; time to decorate the house for Christmas. Our family tradition is to put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with or without the annual Christmas tree fight. We’re a little late this year; the outside lights went up last weekend, and the tree went up on Monday. Thanks to my work schedule, we decorated the tree on a rolling schedule, and finished this morning. We skipped the annual fight. It’s a delayed schedule this year.

Most years we follow the same decorating scheme: wreaths on the windows, colored lights on the bushes, and lanterns in the half barrels. Two years ago, we added timers to the mix. My bare feet rejoiced at the thought of no longer having to unplug lights on cold concrete every night. Now I just have to get the timing closer than an hour and a half between the two timers. I wonder why no one wires houses with switch controlled outside sockets for lights? Our house does have a ‘candle switch,’ so we can adorn each window with an electric candle, after all. (It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch thing; I’ll explain another time.)

Golden Cypress

Back to the outdoor lights. An enormous golden cypress tree grows beside the garage. Years ago, we decorated that like a giant Christmas tree, as well as the bushes. In tree height, that was about fifteen feet ago. Jessie thought it might be nice to decorate it again, this year, until we both took an honest look at the thing. She suggested having one person on the garage roof, and a second person on the ladder (with a 10-foot pole), with a third person as a ground man. I suggested a man-lift. We both decided we didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole.

Decorating the bushes involves 10 to 15 strings of lights, several extension cords and a bar of soap (for all the very bad things I say while stringing the lights). One of my favorite lyrics from the Twelve Pains of Christmas is, “Now why the @&$! are they blinking?!” Anyone who has ever fought to untangle the mess of last year’s oh-so-carefully stored Christmas lights, only to plug them in and discover half of the strand dead, will understand. I gave my middle son the job of testing light bulbs on a strand; he said I had no idea what I was asking. Was I bad for laughing at him?

Wiring

No doubt, our wiring ‘skills’ would give an electrician some serious nightmares, and maybe a need for therapy. Seriously, if we aren’t supposed to daisy chain light strings together, why do they have sockets on the ends? Plus, every box of lights I’ve ever seen has been labeled ‘Indoor Lights.’ Either there’s a secret ‘Outdoor Lights’ store for people in the know, or an awful lot of other people have been breaking the laws of lighting just as long as we have. And don’t even get me started on extension cords!

Creche

We did add a new … attraction isn’t the word … addition to our plan, thanks to a quick cleanup of the fall and Thanksgiving decorations at the front door, including a pair of bright yellow straw bales. They became the frame for our new Nativity Crèche, fleshed out with a Moravian Star, some white lights, and a wicker manger for the Christ child. For a spur-of-the-moment idea, it didn’t turn out half bad.

Now, to get those doggone timers synced.