Posts Tagged ‘Christmas lights’

Now that I am the person solely responsible for Christmas in my house, there are a lot of things I have grown to dislike about the holidays.  I could do without baking dozens of different kinds of Christmas cookies, wasting hours of my life writing and mailing Christmas cards to people I don’t even speak to the rest of the year, or sitting through hour after hour of sappy Christmas tv programming.

I’m happy with a pre-stuffed, frozen turkey that just has to be thrown in the oven.  I have grown to love pre-stick gift tags and pre-fab bows that can just be hunked on top of every gift.  I am gradually picking easy over difficult, fast over slow and pre-done over home-made.

But, the one thing I can’t cut corners on is decorations, specifically lights.  When it comes to lights, the more the merrier and the twinklier the better.  Everything (including me) looks better when bathed in the gentle glow of Christmas lights.

When I was a little girl, one of the biggest dates on the Christmas calendar was the day we put up the lights on the outside of the house.  The weeks leading up to the date were spent with my mother deciding on a “theme” for the outside decorations and then figuring out what colour the lights needed to be to go with that theme.  Then, on the morning of the big day, my brother and I would be tasked with untangling the light strings and ensuring they were linked together correctly so that my dad didn’t end up with 10 extra light sockets hanging off the end of the roof or 5 sockets short of going around the second garage door.

Then the colour pattern would be finalized and for the rest of the morning I would be repeating the pattern over and over in my head to ensure I didn’t fail this most important task.  If it was supposed to be two red, two green, two blue, two yellow, then that’s how it better be.  Switching the two blue and the two yellow had serious implications and would require starting from scratch.  I always offered to be the person who screwed the light bulbs into the sockets.  I liked having the responsibility of ensuring it was done right.  Perfect for someone with a burgeoning type-A personality.  I liked the control, and I also loved the sound.

Even today, when I close my eyes I can still hear the sound the bulbs make when they rub together.  I used to take all of the bulbs out of their packages and put them in individual piles by colour and I would run my fingers through them, feeling the smooth glass slide through my fingers, and hear the sound of them gently clinking together.  Pure bliss.  If you ever asked me what my favourite sound is, that would be it.

My family was a well-oiled machine when it came to Christmas lights.  I would be screwing the bulbs into the light strands while my dad was out on the ladder putting the strings up.  My mom was usually tasked with holding the bottom of my ladder to make sure the lighting party didn’t end with a trip in an ambulance.  My brother would go back and forth between the inside and the outside yelling “I need a strand with two blue at the male end.”  Yep, that’s how we referred to the strands.  If there needed to be a strand starting with two blue lights at the plug-out end, it would be the “male end” and the plug-in end would therefore be the “female end.”  Yes, my education on the birds and the bees started with strands of Christmas lights.

No one could get out of Christmas light day.  I even remember one year when my dad’s work Christmas party fell on the night before “light day” and he was still out there, bright and early, even though he looked slightly worse for wear.  Every time he bent over to pick up the strand of lights he would grown and grab his head but he pushed through because my mother would be standing beside him, giving him that “look.”  Young as I was, I knew even then that you don’t mess with the “look.”

Those Saturday mornings spent with my family are some of my most cherished Christmas memories and I have to say, I’m slightly bitter about the recent change to energy-efficient LED Christmas lights.  No more running my fingers through piles of beautiful glass bulbs separated by colour and no more changing lighting “themes” on a yearly basis.  Now you buy a string of lights and those are the colours you’re stuck with, year in and year out.  I’m all for saving the environment but I’m not so happy that going green means having red lights for the next 10 years.

And so I’ve tried to compensate by adding more and more and more lights.  My husband is at the point now that when he sees me standing on the sidewalk, staring at the house, he just rolls his eyes and walks quickly into the house, in fear that what ever lighting scheme I’m imagining for next year involves him, an 8 foot ladder and 300 more Christmas lights.

I wish I could reassure him but his worst fears will probably come true.  You can never have too many Christmas lights.

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