Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Lights 101

Every year since I've been married, around 10 or so, I think, I've gone through the arduous ritual of putting Christmas lights on the house. With the wife and kids in charge of decorating the house's interior, it has always been Dad's job to festoon roof line with lights, not the forgiving icicle kind, but the merciless bulb type that require each bulb to be carefully placed. The seemingly simple task of attaching these lights along the fascia board is never as easy at it looks and never as fun as they make it seem in the movies. Here are tried and true directions to make your electrify your eaves and your soffits sparkle.
  1. Listen to that voice in your head that is your wife telling you to hang the lights for the 100th time.
  2. Climb into the attic and survey the mess. Vow to clean it out someday. Find the box of lights usually located under the box storing the old encyclopedias.
  3. Find the male end of each strand of lights and plug into an electrical outlet to see if they still work (don't find out the hard way like I have.)
  4. Throw the broken light strands away (usually about half of them) untangle the remaining ones, then run to the store to try to find additional matching strands. Pick up some spare bulbs while you're there.
  5. Get out your extension ladder or borrow your neighbor's. If you don't have a ladder, climbing on the roof is an option. Climb the privacy fence and jump on the roof. Have your kids nearby so they can marvel at your braver and ingenuity or so they can run in the house to call 911 if you don't make it.
  6. Start with with the male end near the outlet to which you eventually connect power and clip the light just under the shingle. Those giant plastic clips help. Run back to the store if you didn't get any while you were buying new, semi-matching lights.
  7. Climb down the ladder and move it 2 feet over, climb and repeat step 6. Do this for several hours or until you butt and legs hurt so much from climbing up and down. If you are doing this from the roof, it's best to lay on your stomach wearing a long-sleeved shirt so the asphalt shingles to give you a nasty rash. Be sure not to slide off the roof head-first, although that is a great way to get out of doing the lights.
  8. Once the lights are all around the perimeter of the house, plug them all in and examine your work. Get the wife outside for the final approval.
  9. Fix all the things the wife pointed out, like bulbs that are leaning too much, bulbs that are burned out, the new strands with colored bulbs instead of the clear bulbs, and the last strand at the end of the long run whose fuses just blew out.
  10. Return to store for correct colored bulbs and those teeny, tiny little fuses that slip into the male end of the plug that are so frustrating to replace. Stop at the ice house on the way home for a six pack of suds.
  11. Make all the necessary changes, careful now not to fall of the ladder in a drunken stupor, and retest the lights. Ask yourself, "Are half the lights supposed to be blinking?"
  12. Convince your wife that you meant to do that and that flashing and unflashing light combinations not only show the eccelectic diversity of our household, but help attract Santa and his sleigh.
  13. Fix the lights.
  14. Put the ladder away or call your neighbor to come get it. Rub Icy-Hot on your butt, quads, and hamstrings.
  15. Take some Advil and rest in the easy chair. You're going to need all the energy you can muster to take everything back down in a couple of weeks, that is, unless you can convince your wife to leave them up year-round.
  16. Feel good about yourself for giving your wife a good, cheerful, holiday laugh.


Anonymous said...

Now, I know SC is not letting you climb a ladder!!!! That's way to scary with your knee history.

We are out today -- yeehaw. Shopping tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? 10 years of being married? Really, you think it's been 10 years? We have an anniversary coming up. You better check your math, mister.
And, we have NO Christmas lights outside our house this year. Check that. I hung some lighted garland around the door and a few strands around one tree.
Yes, climbing on a ladder is out of the question this year, but the promise of hanging lights along the fence was apparently replaced by daily blogging. Hope the neighbors are reading so they can enjoy our Christmas cheer.

kwkorpi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kwkorpi said...

You're right, I've been married now 12 years in January. And although I'm still not fit to climb a ladder just yet after the surgeries, and even though I don't have lights on the house THIS year, I still feel qualified to help others in the task. Maybe this weekend I'll add to the few strands around your one tree.

Anonymous said...

It must be a hereditary thing--not wanting to put up outside Christmas lights. We've gone from lights hanging from the roof (when you & Thomas were still home to help), to lights around the perimeter of the front yard-on the ground of course, to this year, just angels with baby Jesus & Santa (after all, He is the reason for the season). If our Christmas tree didn't already come with pre-strung with lights, it would possibly also be just a decorated, unlit tree! There's a beautifully decorated street of homes just a block or two from our house. Get your Christmas spirit by driving through that neighborhood a few times!! It's easier, and safer! Mom