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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays: The Spruce Report


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and New Year, and all the holidays in between and after.

There’s still way too much to do before any of the holidays can arrive.  Was it Noel Coward who said “Christmas now has us by the throat?” Well he should know—since he’s named for the Christmas holiday. As for me, I’m just in a mild panic. The presents aren’t ordered, the cards not yet sent and our Christmas tree is not yet up or decorated. If I were Santa’s elf I’d be on overtime or maybe out of a job. 

At least we have a wreath on our door. If we can get the outside lights up no one will be the wiser we’re so far behind. So this year we are multi-tasking: I’ve started this Christmas note while my intrepid spouse is looking for the timer for the outside lights. 

Real Time Report:  Was that Santa rushing by with presents as I typed?  No, that was my husband.  He was in the attic looking for the timer. 

Usually I report on the holly berries I can see from the window of my office. That is, in those years when we’ve not yet had cold and snowy weather. Once real winter arrives the birds eat all the berries. I could try to make some climate change point that the weather must be warmer this year since the birds haven’t eaten the berries yet.

Real Time Report:  Now my spouse is back from the basement, grumbling about things not being put in their place.  And then he’s dashing by to check the garage.  No timer in the garage.  

Instead I’m going to report on the astronomical growth of our blue spruce in the front yard. I don’t have any idea what that means as far as climate change. But I do have some idea of the practical implications for putting Christmas lights on a tree that has grown to be almost as tall as our two-story house.

        Real Time Report:  my husband has made another trip to the attic.  The timer was hidden in a   plain, unmarked bag.  The better to stay hidden each year.  But that means it’s time to start stringing those lights.  So I’m taking a short “break”.

Every year, for the past twenty-two, we have strung little colored lights on the blue spruce in the front yard.  When we first moved to this house the spruce was about ten feet tall.  My husband could easily toss a few lights around the spruce without any help and it looked fine.

       Real Time Report:  I’m back working on the lights. My job is to check the strands to be sure all the lights work.  It’s too cold to stay out here and do any more right now.  Maybe I better go back to my Christmas note, with a hot toddy so I don’t catch cold.

Now that damn spruce is nearly two stories high and twenty feet across.  So why are we still doing it?  First, there’s the satisfaction of knowing we’ve nicely decorated our front yard.

Real Time Report:  As we string the lights I discover my job also was supposed to include separating the polarized strands from the non-polarized strands.  Oops—need to unstring the last few strands.

 Then, there are the neighbors who start to say things in July, like, “Sure looking forward to seeing your tree all lit up again.”  Finally I suppose it’s the idiocy of not wanting to give up something we’ve done for years.  And the fact that a few years ago when I checked with a couple of those outdoor light-hanging companies they wanted $5,000 to string lights on our tree.  If we should get good at this light-hanging thing we’d have a new career opportunity for our old age.

Real Time Report:  We’re halfway there.  Time for the ladder.  And maybe another hot toddy break. 

Each year after we get the lights on we feel that wonderful sense of accomplishment.  Yeah, right.  Stringing this tree is more like a recipe for disaster than for a hot toddy.  Half the time the lights don’t work, the ladder isn’t tall enough and the jerry-rigged extension pole doesn’t extend like it should to reach those top branches.  

Real Time Report:  All that’s left is to flip the switch.  Fingers crossed.  Good thing it’s getting dark.  The better to be wowed by the lights.  And . . . we are.  Yippee!  They’re all lit!  Until we turn away.  When we turn back only the very bottom lights are lit.  Argh!

Tomorrow we’ll try to diagnose what’s wrong.  For now I’ll close by saying we’ve had a good year, and been healthy, happy, and lucky enough to see our family and friends, though not as often as we would like.  Best wishes for a happy, healthy and great holiday season.  

Don’t forget to drink your hot toddy.  It helps mellow out that Christmas decorating experience.

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