Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The seven stages of Christmas lights, round 1

It was time for Phase One of the decorating season: Christmas lights, outdoor phase. (Yes, we still call them Christmas lights here at the homestead. PC behaviours in this matter are verboten!)
There are seven stages of Christmas lights. Some of you may know them by heart; others may have experienced them, but not recognized them as such.
That is why the cracked research team here has presented the Seven Stages of Christmas Lights:
1. Testing the lights. Our lights are well-marked when stored for the season, so it becomes a matter of pulling them out of their containers and testing them. This is important because you need to know how many sets you have to run out to the hardware store to buy in order to replace the malfunctioning ones.
2. Untangling the lights. There is, I am convinced, a spirit that does its work, probably during the heat of summer. It takes perfectly wound strings of lights and tangles them to hell and back. During testing, if you have multiple sets entangled, the testing provides a way to track each string and untangle it.
3. Installing the lights. This is a relatively simple matter. Certain sets of lights are clipped onto the siding; others are wrapped around trees and bushes; others are wrapped around the railing of our deck. This year, we installed a storage shed in the back yard, which required installation of cup hooks on which to secure the lights there.
4. Cursing the lights. This always happens a few times during the course of the installation. Sets that had tested perfectly down in the basement decide they're not going to work, or only work partially, once they're in place. And, of course, it's never the end set of a group of strings. It's always one in the middle. As a result, I let out a string of words I don't use on this blog. This year, the volume was such that Candace could have heard me in Edmonton. Linda e-mailed me from P.E.I. wondering what was going on; E.M. in Ann Arbor did the same; Regular Ron from suburban D.C. said I shattered a window at his place. He thought the infidels had come to claim me. It was truly a moment that will land me in the confessional this weekend.
5. Reinstalling the lights. Once you've got the set fixed and running, you have to put things back where they belong. Duplicate work always ticks me off. So I am somewhat of an unhappy camper at this point.
6. Re-testing the lights. This calls for great concentrated prayer, that the fixed lights stay fixed and the other lights don't decide to go kerplooey on me.
7. Enjoying the lights. Since I work nights, the better half leaves them on until I get home (just so I can pull the plugs, ha-ha).
That was the outside. Phase Two -- lighting the Christmas trees (yes, trees) we have in our house -- is ahead.
I'll let you know when that's coming. You may want to block your ears.