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Ho ho hold it… December 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 12:25 PM

Festive pause – that’s what it felt like today. Christmas carols a-playing, gingerbread a-baking, christmas tree a-lighting. Nope – that’s what threw a wrench into to the flow. We have a pre-lit tree. Massive, with many many lights. We splurged a few years ago and spent more than we ever thought we would on an artificial tree – even during the half price sell-off sale. But considering I had always spent upwards of two hours stringing the lights on the tree, a pre-lit one sounded like heaven.

I know some of you have done a re-read of that last bit. What? More than two hours stringing lights? How is that possible? That’s what my husband said, and maybe some of you are saying it too. But I know there are just as many of you out there agreeing with me. The difference between those who string lights for two hours, and those who take 5-minutes is all in the placement. I could have done a job parallel to my hubby and just ran around the tree stringing the lights like a ribbon on a maypole, but that’s not the right way. Or at least that’s not my way. It’s not my mother’s or sister’s way either, and anyone who knows any of us can attest – our trees look like something out of a magazine, and it all starts with the lights. You have to wind them, place some deep in the branches, some on the end. That gives the tree depth. You have to make them even top to bottom, and plentiful – no skimping. It’s a thank-less job, because everyone notices the decorations, but few will say – the lights look fantastic!

Decorations do make a difference – I have no two alike on my tree. It helps that my parents have been giving me a decoration every year since the time I was ten – yes – they still do. I have kept up the tradition with my own three children, and my oldest Heather, decorated her own tree in her own home this year with her collection we have been building for her from the year she was born. It tickled my heartstrings. Giving the yearly decorations is one of my favourite family traditions and one my kids all love too. Our tree is a history of hobbies, favourites, and personal styles. My son loves nutcrackers and frogs – so he has lots of those, thrown in with some snowboards, Star Wars and Scooby Doo ones. All of the ones my youngest daughter has are either frilly, fuzzy, sparkly, pink, or with some kind of animal doing something festive and adorable. I always buy one for myself (usually something that looks like it’s sugar-coated) and my hubby too. Merry Christmas to me.

But I digress – back to the Christmas lights. A few hours after the tree went up, the tree was still only half lit. I assumed it would be no biggy for my husband – after all, his previous career was an electrician, so how could tree lights be a challenge. Because he was working on a heat pump downstairs he wasn’t thrilled to be rerouted to tree duty – but hey, we were on a decorating mission. He told me before he could start, I had to count how many lights were on one strand so he could tell which volt it was. It was a daunting task, and I had a sneaky suspicion it was one of his tactics to get out of work. After all – if I didn’t complete my task, how could even start his? Sometimes he can be a sneaky bastard that way. So I counted the damn lights on one of the lit strings – but of course the answer didn’t make sence to him (which I found out later was because the 22 per/string I counted was off by 13 – it was actually 35 lights per string). I guess I can be a sneaky bastard that way too.

“I’ll do dinner while you go to Canadian Tire.” (Will work for food. That is a language he does understand.)

So supper waited for the reluctant handy man to come home and light our tree so our holiday season could begin. Because who can be jolly without a giant faux-fir dazzling  in the centre of your home?


6 Responses to “Ho ho hold it…”

  1. Lisa Says:

    I have to confess I was once a compulsive tree-light placer as well. I topped out at 1,100 lights on a 6-1/2 foot tree. Then I also bought my own pre-lit tree and I’ll never go back. I’ve been lucky, though, three years now and I haven’t had to deal with lights not working yet. If my lights every go off, can I call William to come and fix them for me?

  2. Dale Long Says:

    I place my lights just so too. A string of bigger lights in the middle and several strings of mini-lights around the outside. Have to have some lights at the bottom to light up the presents too. No LED lights though. I have yet to find a string that lasts the supposed 12 years. They last the same as one mini light bulb or one incandecent bulb. Since either one of them take up much less space in the land fill than a whole string of LEDs, I’ll stick with the tried and true. Also to my colour blind eyes, the blue LEDs vibrate…

    The ornament thing is a tradition in our house too. Sue’s mom used to do it and we carry it on.

    So, two hours to string the lights? Sounds about right. Another two plus to place the decorations just right? With animotion ornaments and heat driven carosels, that sounds about right too. The end result is worth it and I for one, WILL comment on the lights.

    Do you do the squint test? Squint your eyes until everything is blurry and look at the tree. You’ll see the dark spots.

    • The squint test? No! I am doing that once my lights are up and running – thought not much I can do with a pre-lit. I’m beginning to think the world is divided between obsesessive stringers and those who toss them on. Make you a deal – you praise my lights, and I’ll praise yours…

  3. Sandra Clarke Says:

    Too funny, Noelle.
    I am exactly like you, layering each branch with the requisite number of lights, filling every shadowed crevice with illumination. My prized splurge (purchased the same way as your’s) had a stipe of unlit bulbs in the center. My kids found a broken bulb. “But the box said the whole strand won’t go out if one light fails!.” I stammered. It’s why I splurged. Fortunately I left the lable on the strand of lights that informed me I needed 2.5V replacement bulbs. So off I went to Canadian Tire, then Home Hardware, then the three dollar stores, then Home Depot – it seems 3.5 v bulbs won the popularity prize this year. Sadly 2.5v weren’t even ordered by most stores I entered. I finally found a string of icicle lights that used 2.5v bulbs at Walmart. So I now have 50 replacement bulbs (45 really because we found more broken bulbs) on an icicle cord. Oh, on a side note, the rest of the misbehaving strip lit up after my hubby gave the tree a good shaking. Even without replacing the bulbs. As promised. We replaced them anyway. LOL I love Christmas.

    • I am unimpressed with the replacement bulb search. How can stores not anticipate this? A week later and we have more than half the tree lit, but ran out of replacement bulbs. My husband has looked at half a dozen places with no luck – ugh. Tomorrow I finish the tree with half the lights – I can’t wait anymore!

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