Sunday, November 26, 2006

Up on the Housetop

The day after Thanksgiving is officially "put up the outside Christmas lights" day. Personally I call it "try not to fall off the roof" day. For more than thirty years I've been putting up the lights. It used to be a challenge designing each year's layout and trying to out do the neighbors. Lights on the roof, lights in the trees, lights on the bushes, lights around the windows, colored bulbs, white bulbs, flashing bulbs, and sequenced arrays made up the artist's palette. As night fell, the family would all march to the sidewalk to view the turning on of the lights. When I turned on the lights there were oooh's and aaah's usually reserved for fourth of July fireworks. Marilyn always commented on how the display could be better, and I would always say "yeah, maybe next year".

I don't know if I'm getting smarter or lazier but the glitzy colorful animated spectacles are a thing of the past. My display has been toned down to the white icicle on the eaves theme for several years now. The neighbors in the cul de sac are also getting smarter or lazier since they too have adopted this theme. All in all, it makes for a nice subdued unified neighborhood Christmas light display. I guess I am getting smarter since part of getting smarter is the ability to justify laziness. This makes those people who leave their lights up all year virtual Einsteins.

Even with the simplified pattern there is angst. Each year I pull the light strings from the aging cardboard box. No matter how carefully I tied and laid them in the year before, a giant cube of wire spaghetti comes out. I always think of National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" at this point. I view it more as a documentary than a comedy. Sometimes I think I should just heave that cube of luminescence as is on the roof and call it the Christmas star, but that's laziness I can't justify yet so untangling and bulb checking are still part of the yearly ritual.

The nighttime excitement of lighting the display is gone since the display is now the same each year. This year Marilyn suggested adding some colored lights to the wall of the house. I said "yeah, maybe next year".

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