Rigging up the lights

5 years ago

With Thanksgiving now in the rear view mirror, thoughts have quickly turned to the next big holiday event — Christmas.

Each year, the push for Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier. Local department stores began their sales blitz with decorations, wrapping paper and trees lining the aisles before people even had time to pick out their Halloween decorations.

Pretty soon, Christmas in July will take on an entirely new meaning with stores offering yuletide spirit on an almost continual basis. I have to wonder, is that a good thing? Sure, the warm fuzzies that come from the holidays are wonderful. So too is the feeling from enjoying your favorite meal of prime rib or lobster, but when you experience it every day, doesn’t it somehow lessen the experience?

Finding that exact perfect time to dig out our holiday decorations is an ongoing battle in our household. I tend to err on the side of decorating early and elaborately, while my wife would prefer later and a simpler approach.

Last year, I was able to find the old window cling decorations at my father’s house that had adorned the windows during my childhood. Those clings are now proudly on my windows, showing scenes of large Christmas trees, along with Santa and Frosty the Snowman.

While my wife tolerates my desire to be as close as possible to Clark Griswold from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” she has to occasionally remind me that our home should not look like a Christmas store has thrown up inside of it.

Traditionally, we wait until Thanksgiving weekend before putting up a tree. But for me, once the first significant snow hits the ground, the Christmas music starts playing and I begin rummaging in the basement for which totes contain the holiday stuff.

Of course, this year, that meant digging into the stash a wee bit earlier than usual thanks to Mother Nature dumping more than a foot of snow in early November. We did, however, wait until after Veterans Day before decking the halls.

Growing up, my father was never a big fan of cluttering up the living room with a big Christmas tree until it was absolutely necessary. So that usually meant sometime around the second week of December, if we were lucky. Then he would take it down typically the day after Christmas. And of course, the tree was always artificial because, in his opinion as a firefighter, real trees were fire hazards.

One of the first things I did when I got an apartment of my own while living in Rockland was to get a real tree. Once kids came into the picture, my wife and I would make it a family event to go to a “cut-your-own tree” type business and spend what seemed like hours searching for just the right tree and then spend even more time figuring out how to tie it to the top of the car.

Deciding how to decorate the tree also used to be a constant discussion. My wife prefers the classic look of all-white lights, while I was always a multi-colored fan. Before children, we had a few years of using white lights, and I admit, they do look pretty classy.

Once our children were able to vocalize their thoughts, multi-colored have once again become the norm in our house, but I have assured my wife that white lights will again make an appearance one day.

Each year, rigging up the lights proves to be an act of never-ending frustration as the carefully rolled bundle that gets put away is never the same bundle that comes out of the tote somehow. We also use a set of programmable lights that I have had for many years and each season I have to spend time painstakingly replacing all of the bulbs that have burned out.

This year, one of the additional sets we added decided to stop working three days after we finished decorating the tree. “It’s fine,” my wife said. But no, I had to dive in to slowly unravel the lights around ornaments and ribbon to see what the problem was.

Halfway into the unraveling, the lights suddenly came back on, so I started to put them back on the tree only to have them go out once again. Fortunately, we had plenty of extra sets in the basement and after careful replacement, and a little bit of cussing, the tree was back to its multicolored awesomeness.

I have to wonder though, did my wife secretly sabotage the colored lights so that we would have no choice but to switch to white? Hmmmm….

Joseph Cyr is the senior reporter/sports editor for the Houlton Pioneer Times.