Monday, November 19, 2007

Up On The Housetop

It's that time of year again. Time to risk life and limb in the attempt to properly show your Christmas spirit. I'm talking about putting up Christmas lights. Some people like to tastefully decorate their houses with a few strings of lights on bushes and trees. They usually use a balanced pattern with symmetry and artistry. My lighting philosophy is 'the more lights, the better'. I come from the Clark Griswold school of holiday lighting. If an airplane, flying overhead, cannot see my house, then I need another extension cord.

I tend to exasperate Lady Di. She is very artistic and creative and enjoys elegant white lights twinkling slightly in the winter breeze. I like color! Lots of color. Like a Crayola box with the stomach flu, kind of color. In the last few years I have been able to decorate the house my way. Mainly because I am still ignorant enough to climb up a ladder and hang over the edge of the roof to put lights up. Lady Di has been much smarter and avoids the ladder. She does keep the first aid kit handy and the speed dial set for 9-1-1.

When it comes to my holiday decorating tastes, anything goes. I don't mind mismatched nativity sets showing Baby Jesus playing wreath toss with Frosty. I don't mind a Santa sitting next to a camel with a gingerbread man on it's back. I don't mind candy cane lined driveways, or giant candles by the front door. A sleigh and reindeer on the roof always amaze me. I like flashing, blinking, and twinkling lights. So far, Lady Di has held me to 'lights only' on the house. But who knows, maybe a small army of toy soldiers will invade our yard this year.

I pretty much like any kind of holiday decoration, except inflatable displays. One reason is they seem too complicated for me to bother with. Anything with a motor and blower is not worth the headache for me. I also don't care for the way they lay on the front yard during the day when they are deflated. Plus, I'm sure, as soon as I put one up, the first strong winter wind will take it all the way to Mexico.

I probably get my love of holiday decorating from my Mother. She is a decorating demon every year for every holiday. At Christmas time, my Dad calls their house, "Little Vegas". They live across the street from a nursing home in a small town. The nursing home residents always tell my Mom that they look forward to seeing her yard at Christmas time. She even won her town's award for 'Most Festive Lights' last year. Whenever we go to visit we can usually tell when we are within 5 miles from Gramma's house by the 'Aurora Borealis' glow from her house.

So my goal is to create a winter wonderland before the winter comes. My plan was to get the roof lights done last weekend since we had nice weather. An extra work day put those plans on hold. Now I won't get another chance to plug in until Thanksgiving week. This is the latest that I will start decorating in quite a few years. I have decorated in the cold and snow before. I usually start with gloves until I realize it's impossible to untangle anything with gloves on. Then my fingers freeze and I have to descend the ladder to thaw my hands inside the house every half string.

Even if I don't find the time to light up the block this year, I will still get to enjoy holiday decorations. Every year, as a family, we pick a night or two to drive around town just to look at the lights in the neighborhood. I usually hear a lot of 'Wow, look at that one!' from the back seat from the kids. My sister and I enjoyed drives like this with our parents when we were young and I hope my kids enjoy them as much as I did. Hopefully, I can find the time to get our house up to a respectable level for viewing.

But it is worth it, right? Is it worth watching the electric meter spin like the Price Is Right wheel? Is it worth risking frost bite and/or a trip to the emergency room when I fall from the roof? The big payoff is when I make the whole family stand out in the street on the night after Thanksgiving and, with much pomp and ceremony, flip the switch. If I don't trip a circuit and put the whole block in a blackout, it's a success. I then bask in the glow of the kids' Oooo's and Ahhhhh's. Then they say, "We're cold! Can we go in yet?"

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I'm a 40 year old dad of two. My wonderful wife, Lady Di, and I try to keep the kids from blowing things up here in central Minnesota.