By Becky Irico
I love outdoor Christmas lights; on other peopleís houses.
This is not a scientific study or anything, but it seems to me the grandest Christmas displays are by those who A) donít have children; B) are grandparents; or C) are wealthy enough to not personally be the one standing on the ladder with lights draped like a tangled pageant banner.
Each year my neighbors across the street, who by the way, donít have children, put up such a delightful light display! I wave merrily and feel Iíve done my part by providing an appreciative audience.
Christmas is a time that my ego doesnít bother me much, and Iíve felt no need to reciprocate this electric tradition of the season.
My children have a different opinion.
Each year they ask, "Mom, everybody else has lights! Why canít we?"
Everybody??! The childhood mantra; "Everybody else has (fill in the blank). Why-canít-we?"
Each year I respond, "Why have them on our house? I canít SEE those! Just look across the street!"
Parents: read no further. You already know what happened.
My Christmas Light Diary:
Find out thereís a difference in indoor and outdoor lights. Go buy lights.
Realize I canít put up lights without cleaning the gutters. Find out that after I clean gutters, I have to rake the leaves again.
Get out the lights I bought. Find out I must wash down the outside windows, too.
Swear that I will NOT wash the windows inside. That would be obsessive, surely.
Finish washing the inside windows by 10 P.M. Aching all over, I realize that not one light is actually up.
7 AM - Delude myself into believing the worst is over, and begin putting up lights.
Since there are little hooks all along the front of the house, I think the previous owners must have put them there expressly to hang Christmas lights! Great! This is going to be a piece of cake!
10 AM - Decide the prior owners must have hung ferns. Decide since I canít see them from the street while on those hooks, Iíll drape them nicely and wonít that be lovely.
3 PM Ė Discover that unevenly draped lights look like I need a car up on blocks in the front yard to match.
6 PM Ė Iíve taken them all down, put them up again, only to find some burned out bulbs.
I learn that an electrical engineer is required to replace a burned out mini-light
Iíve begun to talk to my ladder.
6:30 PM Ė A neighbor across the street starts putting his lights up. I hear strains of laughter and joviality. He covers a two-story house in lights.
7:30 PM Ė My neighbor asks me if I need anything now that heís done.
7:45 PM Ė One of the childrenís friends stops by with her mother whom Iíve never met before.
The entryway is completely blocked by my ladder. Strands of lights and garland are secured only by being draped around my neck as I balance myself at the top of the ladder.
The mother is in a talkative mood. Weíve never met and had lots to catch up on.
8:30 PM Ė It begins to rain. Iím still draped in lights at the top of the ladder. The mother decides sheíd better go now. She advises me it might be dangerous to be working with all those lights in the rain.
After careful evaluation, I determine that it would be less trouble to go ahead and put the lights up; rather than take them all down and forget it.
My house now looks like I could drive through and order a cheeseburger.
After roughly 30 seconds of approving cheers from the children, they now want to know if we can have a lighted reindeer. Everybody else does, after all.