Tag Archives: decorating

How to hang Christmas lights

I may be an atheist but I still love Christmas.

I like this time of year. I enjoy Christmas cheer. I was standing out on the street in front of my house the other night waiting for my wife to pick me up and take me out to dinner. A few of the houses already had lights up. The night had the December chill going on. The evening was totally clear and eerily quiet. And I was thinking, “This sure feels like a holiday night.” Amazing because only a few weeks ago the same type of night had a distinctly Halloween feel.

The Christmas season is upon us! (No doubt this will be big news to retailers who have been eagerly “celebrating” since September.)

So this last weekend we decided to hang a few Christmas lights. My wife dug around in the garage and found five strands of colorful LED lights. Last year she wrapped them, put twisty ties on them, and organized them nicely. Dang, these things were almost like new!

As is my nature, I set about my task with Spock-like logic. One step at a time. First I took the lights and tested them on my workbench in the garage. Each and every one worked! That’s when I had my first positive thought, always a bad sign. “Hey, these LED lights are cool. They might even work. Wow!”

After that, two strands were given to the Mrs. to decorate the two columns near our front door. I took the rest and began to install them in the bushes at the front of our house as a nice cold rain began to come down.

I plugged each strand in as I did my work to make sure they were still operational. Everything was proceeding swimmingly.

Eventually I plugged in the final strand, arranged everything just so and stood back to survey my work. Pretty nice. Nothing too extravagant, mind you, but still festive in my own modest way.

I had just turned to walk back to the garage when it happened. I saw it just out of the wee corner of my eye.


All the lights I had just put up just died. Just like that my festive night became a “dark and stormy night.” WTF?

Thus began the systematic process of gathering up the strands of lights, one at a time, and taking them back to my workbench for more testing.

Strand #3 was carefully extricated from the bushes and tested. It worked fine. Same result with strand #2.

Finally, strand #1, the leader of the bunch, was strung out on my bench, stubbornly refusing to light up. I briefly considered waterboarding.

Unfortunately the instructions were long gone. I tested and wiggled every single bulb. They all looked solid as far as I could see. I surmised it might be a fuse, but couldn’t find any trace of where one might be located.  Finally, disgusted, I tossed the problem child to the side. Five strands of lights and one doesn’t work. That’s a 20 percent failure rate. Not too shabby!

I figured two strands would still be enough to cover the bushes, albeit not quite as nicely.

I trudged back out into the rain and flung ’em on the bushes with no attempt to make them look nice. I plugged them in. This time they worked.

“That’s done,” I grunted in curmudgeon language. “The hell with this, I’m going back inside.”

Days later they still work. I’m stunned and amazed.

Merry freakin’ Christmas.

Give me the lights, precious lights

As seen in my neighborhood this year

When I was a kid on the Saturday before Christmas the family would load up in the car and drive around to view Christmas lights. It was always something we looked forward to. It was a special time.

Later, in my twenties, there was a neighborhood in town that was a surbuban block of family homes with only two entrances. Nearly every single house was decorated at Christmas. They even would hang a sign over the main entrance proclaiming the neighborhood to be “Starlight Circle.”

Cars from miles around would slowly cruise the neighborhood. Those willing to park could stroll along the sidewalks. Christmas music filled the air. Along the way residents would pass out things like candy canes and hot cocoa or hot apple cider to help take away a bit of the chill. I haven’t been there for years.

The last two years, though, I’ve been noticing a new phenomenon. Halloween lights. Last year the house down the street was brightly lit with orange lights. I surmised it took someone a very long time to take Christmas lights and swap in all of those little orange bulbs.

This year that house was decorated even more, and so was about half the neighborhood! Almost half, I think. Wow. Do we love our holidays or what?

Seriously. Halloween lights?

Then, driving through town last night, I noticed a house with the orange lights still up and I slowed to take a look. Yep, right there in the front yard. There it is! There sits the giant inflatable turkey. Turkey I say! (No doubt made in China.)

I’m going to need a scorecard soon to keep track of all the holidays that need lights. Christmas is so much fun why not spread it around the rest of the year? Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Fourth of July have obvious color schemes.

I predict someone will invent year-round lights that you simply leave out all the time, then a little control panel that can be used to illuminate them to the holiday color scheme of your choice. The ultimate in convenience.

Congratulations, humans. You found a way to make Christmas just a little bit less special than it already was.

The musical selection for this post: