A Dramatic Christmas Lights Story

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On October 1st of this year, I decorated for Halloween. I hung a swath of grey tattered, gauzy fabric across the top of the front doorway. I then mounted two giant black bendy-legged spiders on either end of the fabric- one climbing TERRIFYINGLY up a light, and the other perched- waiting to take your precious life- on the wall next to the door. It was spooky, yet not too scary for young kids, big enough to catch the eye, but not over the top. In a word (or 2), it was Halloween perfection.

Wanting to build on establishing myself as Alpha-Neighbor, by November 1st I began to plan out how I would tackle the Christmas decor.

Christian has observed me, with a mixture of disgust, pity, and exhaustion, as I have attempted an assortment of lights, garlands, and wreaths, in basically every combination imaginable, on each of the 4 houses we have lived in together.

The problem here is that every year I completely fail at Christmas decorating. No matter how long I stare at the wall of light boxes at Target, scrunching up my face and momentarily considering LED lights (gasp!), and no matter how many boxes and spools of lights I end up buying, something godawful ends up happening to my scene.

These have all happened: entire strings of lights fizzling out, garlands repeatedly falling down, lights being stepped on, wreaths blowing away, frozen gutters thwarting my attempt to hang gutter hooks, general ennui, old bent nails pulling out from shingles at a surprisingly rapid rate.

Each year I try, and each year my enthusiasm slowly, completely diminishes until I am left a bitter, hunched wretch, muttering curses into my peppermint mocha.

Being our first Christmas in this house, and what with the resounding success of Halloween, my excitement was renewed. Several house-gaping sessions left me certain that I could finally, maybe try icicle lights. Our house from the front resembles a ranch-style home, and a long, sleek row of white icicle lights would be just the ticket.

As always, Target welcomed me with its loving arms, and I plucked up 3 giant rolls of icicle lights, along with approximately a million other things, and snowshoed home. And by snowshoed I mean I drove in my giant, gas-guzzling SUV with my Starbucks iced green tea refill planted firmly in the cup holder, and an enlightening podcast blasting my earballs out.

If you know anything about foreshadowing, you’ll know that something terrible was about to happen. Actually, it was 2 things.

I brashly left the light spools in my car for a week while I tended to other matters. The beginning of December brought gorgeously mild weather for Illinois and I thoroughly enjoyed walking Ida one day in particular as I encountered so many people putting up decorations.

3 days later, following a huge snowfall and subsequent freeze, was the exact moment I decided to string up my lights. (This was the year I couldn’t fit any hooks into the gutters, since they were already packed with ice.)

I stomped inside in a maniacal huff and noticed I had bought those horrifically stressful LED lights anyway, so back to the store for them. After I whipped them at an innocent stranger, I picked up an armful of old school white lights, drove home in blind fury, and wrapped them so fucking festively around a short row of shrubs in front of the house. I then threw back a quart of whiskey and snapped on the Christmas tunes.

4 days later, after yet another snowfall, Christian went outside to blow some snow, and emerged ashen-faced.

Apparently the snow blower was a bit much for his delicate constitution and managed to get away from him right next to the lights, that were sucked completely off the shrubs in a violent tsunami of anti-Christmas carnage.

As the week wore on and some of the snow melted away, I would find bits of green wire and smashed tiny bulbs here and there.

Each new discovery was a reminder that sometimes Santa has a different path in mind for each of us. I learned that my holiday calling is to consume cookies every day for an entire month instead of dressing up the outside of our house like a 2 dollar whore.

Although I think we all know I’ll try again next year.

bad Christams lights

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