This weekend we put the lights on the house.
Yes, I know, I’m behind the times. Most people in my neighborhood managed to get their lights put on the house on Thanksgiving Day. I know I sound Dickensian when I say this, and will manage to aggravate so many suburban residents out there, but . . . what the hell is wrong with you people?! Look, I get that there’s not a lot of time and you want to keep up with the Joneses and all that. I also know that you want to be all celebratory. I’m not disputing that, Christmas is my favorite time of the year.
But what the hell?!
Thanksgiving is spent for me making too many pies – and this year screwing up in baking two of them – and then driving around town to relatives. Never mind the meals the next day, working before the day, all of that. How in God’s name did these people find time to get the lights on the house? Some hired them done . . . I know that, and I realize full-well that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of my doing that. I couldn’t afford it and there’s just something, I don’t know, odd about doing that for me. I can’t figure out why I’d pay triple for lights for about a month when I could simply put some lights on the house myself.
So after all that, with yet another splitting headache, I took to the roof of our home. (Well, it’s not our home, we’re renting, but you get it) My oldest daughter, Abbi, saw me suffering and my vision a bit blurried and decided that it was worth helping me to ensure I didn’t fall to the bushes below the roof. Never mind the fact it was a convenient excuse to ignore the homework she didn’t want to do. I would say it was easy, organized, and perfectly suited since we’d managed to get the lights up on-time last year but I’d be lying. Like so many things from last Christmas I don’t remember much. We did manage lights, tree, presents, all that, but I don’t remember doing it. Autopilot must have been a major part of my life last year because we managed to get through the holidays, I wasn’t a mess, and the kids enjoyed themselves.
This year I looked at all the lights put away, the giant snowflakes that I remembered hanging down at least one of the peaks on the house, and I scratched my head. Maybe it was the headache, or maybe it’s because my brain has slowly filled up with useless information. Either way, I didn’t remember how the hell we’d gotten the lights up on the roof. I had tons of strands of green outdoor lights and then tons of strands of white outdoor lights.
“These don’t match,” I told Abbi as I stood staring at the storage containers.
“No . . . they don’t. Does it matter?”
I had to think about that. It used to. Andrea, my late wife, used to have conniptions about anything going against “the plan.” The plan, you see, was her vision. Given my ways, particularly early in our marriage, you’d have been able to land an F-16 on our roof with the lights I wanted to do. Patterns and colors be damned, I want to see my house from the International Space Station! That didn’t go well. I argued, I fought, I groused . . . and like always I gave in. You know what, it was always classy, minimal, and beautiful. She had a knack for it, this woman, and it always looked good.
So I stood looking at the lights and could only muster “well . . . ”
“I mean, we could do the snowflakes like last year . . . but put the green lights on the bottom eave . . .then up on the top one,” Abbi pondered.
“They won’t match,” I told her.
“So. I’m not Mom, neither are you. She’s the only one that really bothered. It’s not worth all that work.”
She was right, too. I got up on the roof, managed to match the white snowflakes with white strands and separated the green ones in separate areas.
We turned on the lights, fixed the broken bulbs to eliminate the dark patches, and suddenly . . . we were a lighted home.
“Your Mom would have hated this,” I said.
“Yeah . . . but Mom’s way took three days, which we don’t have, and we’d both be exhausted,” Abbi said.
“You’re absolutely right.”
The other kids came out and hugged my saying simply “yay!” and dancing in the dark of the street. I went in satisfied, knowing it was perfect. In the dark all you saw was the colored lights, and they sparkled against the eaves. You couldn’t see the wires. In the window you could see the tree lit up and even it was contrary to the way Andrea would have decorated. There was no theme . . . except we decorated with our own materials and ornaments. No leopard spotted bows, no ribbons instead of tinsel, it was a traditional tree.
By that I mean it was traditional for us.