Monday, December 29, 2008

Rigging up the lights

Like it? 

A woman I work with calls me, quote, "Christmas Boy -- no, well, Christmas Man. Actually 'Christmas Boy' sounds better."

It's not because I was born on Christmas. I just love everything about it: giving presents to people, getting presents, sneaking around in the attic a few days before to sneak a look at my presents, if I can find them, buying a tree, watching the dogs try to eat the tree, shoveling snow, schmaltzy music, acquiring even more schmaltzy music, watching the same badly animated TV specials, listening to "A Christmas Carol" on the iPod over and over, comparing three or four different film versions of "A Christmas Carol" and writing/directing The Ultimate Christmas Carol Version for the little film studio in my mind, having huge meals of roast turkey, drinking heavy beer and alcoholic pancake batter with cinnamon, picking over the various pickable candy and salty snacks my mom and dad leave out on the dining room table for guests, seeing the family and listening to them tell embarassing toilet-related stories until they leave for Midnight Mass -- your basic Christmas stuff everyone does.

Christmas lights are another story. I like having them on the house, and I like seeing them on other people's houses. I think we should have sets of lights of different colors for every month of the year. I even sort of like hanging up the lights, even though it's tedious work in frigid weather and since last year I've lost the electrical staples I nail into the porch woodwork to hold the wires up, so I have to go to Home Depot and buy more. It's no problem -- I'll probably find those missing staples sometime in May, when I'm looking for something else, and will lose track of them again in late October. It's a Christmas tradition.

But dead lights drive me batshit crazy. I'll test the lights, they'll work fine. I'll hang them up, they work fine. I'll leave them running for a while, they work fine. Sometime later when I'm confident they'll be all right and this will be the best Christmas ever, I'll notice half a string has gone dead.

I put lights on the porch this year and actually planned out the electrical connections perfectly, considering how stupid I can be about those kind of things, the less being said about the time I fully strung up two sets with the female connectors together the better.

So all the lights were working great. Then this happened:

See that? That section that's out? It wasn't like that when I tested the lights!

I was upset about it for days. Ready to rip that string down and buy another one. It ruins the artistic integrity of the entire installation, that missing bit. It cheapens the whole Christmas holiday, that kind of sloppiness.

But the lousy economy and common sense prevailed. Besides, it's on the side of the porch, and there are other lights there to distract persnickety Christmas-light critics like myself.

But so just while I was getting used to the idea, my wife peeks out the door one night and says, "Did you fix those lights on the porch? They're working again."

And they were! Somehow, someway, they were lit again. It was a Christmas miracle!

I had full sets of Christmas lights working all over the house for about one day. It was a frabjous pre-Christmas day!

Then this happened:













These pictures show the banister going from the first floor of my house to the second. The first photo was taken just after I put them up. The second photo was taken -- you ready for this? -- just after the porch lights came back.

They died right afterward. It's like I couldn't have a full set of working lights anywhere. This, needless to say, takes a pee-pee all over my happy fucking holiday.

Even now, just after Christmas, I'm debating whether or not to take this down and buy another new set of lights. I can't stand the fact that all the lights aren't working perfectly. Honestly, I get more and more annoyed just thinking about it. It's kept me awake.

But if I did replace them, the Ghost of Christmas Light Failures Yet To Come would strike elsewhere next. Would it take out the candles in the windows? The red and green C7 bulbs I screwed into the porch sconce, which don't provide nearly enough light to illuminate the front walk or guide my key in the front door but which look festive as hell? Would the next thing to go be the tree -- not the TREE?

It's gotten worse, too. See the lights above on the front porch? The strings going around the columns and along the banister? Every other bulb is dead. I tried to convince myself for a few days that they were just blinking very rapidly -- so rapidly the human eye would perceive them as being turned off -- but that's bullshit. They're fucking broken and I know it. One of those sets of lights is brand-new. They were killed, as far as I can tell, during a snowstorm.

So yeah, basically, this sucks. Most of my lights are dead or blinking wrongly or on their way out. I'm torn between wanting to tear it all down with my teeth -- because if it's not perfect it's flawed, and flawed light displays are a goddam travesty -- and wanting to say, "Fuck it, leave it up, lights are nice for the holidays."

4 comments:

New England Bites said...

I also love all things Christmas. I especially love driving around with a hot chocolate (or some yummy overpriced Starbucks concoction) in hand staring at other people's Christmas lights and listening to non-stop Christmas music. However, there was this one house in Fall River that just couldn't get it together. It was obnoxiously decorated - which I love - but every time I drove by, one part of it seemed to be broken. When the left side was lit up, the right side was dark. When both sides were lit, the top was dark. When everything was lit, the inflatables were flat. What gives? Perhaps the same Christmas ghost that tampered with your lights had attacked this family. It must be something about the North End.

d. said...

Dan I think it looks great. (But I feel your frustration). I'm a pretty Christmassy person too. You will love this...I grew up on a large Christmas Tree farm. We ship trees all over the place and have a U-Cut, which I'm sure you would love. Christmas music, horse rides, over 100 campfire pits, a huge cedar tree maze, old time popcorn maker, train rides for kids, it is a pretty great place, even if you have to work there.

Hope you and Nik had a great holiday.

Nicole said...

Thanks for my last good laugh out loud of the year! Mere hours before midnight on NYE. As I'm writing this, no joke, Ian asks: "Can I turn the Christmas lights off?"

Gordon said...

did you write that you drink alcoholic pancake batter with cinnamon?????

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