I Am A Christmas Light Addict… And So Are My Children

Some might call me “overzealous”.

Some might say I go “above and beyond”.

Others claim I don’t know the meaning of “too much”.

No matter how they phrase it, the truth remains the same.

I am addicted to Christmas lights.

Decorated for Christmas

Let's just say if I didn't fear my husband falling off the roof, I'd be tempted to decorate Chevy Chase style.

A Christmas tree is not properly lit unless you can read by its light alone.

In following with the pervasive “nothing is my fault” sentiment of my generation, I blame my mother.

It’s her fault.

And my childhood Christmas tree.

It was fake and older than I was.

Perhaps once it had been full. Each year we cranked our copy of Jo Stafford’s Ski Trails and squinted at the few chips of paint color remaining on the ends of the metal branches. Once assembled, giant gaps in the branches allowed you to easily see through to the other side of the tree. The lowest branches were bent, the tired wire allowing them to touch the ground and leave and even larger hole.

Unadorned it was a sad, pathetic tree. Years past retirement.

Then my mother touched it.

Multicolored lights surrounded by flowered plastic were wrapped around the inner pole, then the inside branches. More strands wrapped around the sad bottom branches and raised them to their former glory. Racing lights often iced the outermost layer, its flicker ranging from calming to seizure inducing depending on who last touched the controls.

The gaping holes transformed into showcases for the ornaments hung with careful precision – our favorites given the brightest locations.

It was magic.

The tree was finally retired when I reached high school – its final send off as a prop in a one-act play I worked on.

A new, larger, thicker tree took the place of the old.

By now, the proper way to light a tree was firmly ingrained in my soul. It didn’t matter that this tree displayed few gaps and you could barely see to the center.

Tradition had to be followed.

More lights acquired – evil, spiky ones whose covers loved to slip off and sneak beneath your bare feet.

When my mother’s carpal tunnel bothered her too much to do the tree justice, I stepped in, graciously offering to string thousands of lights onto our tree.

Anything less was unacceptable.

I had to have a tree in my college dorm room. The tiny, two foot tree showcased enough lights it glowed like a torch.

Now, even when most years we are away visiting family over Christmas, I have to have my tree at home.

Filled with lights.

Decorate your house this season, Griswold style

Don't forget to "Go Griswold" this Christmas - my children will be very grateful.

My children heartily approve.

Driving home last night, my husband took a detour on purpose.

To look at Christmas lights.

“Daddy, I love the Earth,” The Tackler said from the back of the van.

“Why do you love the Earth?” my husband asked.

“Because the Earth is the only place you have Christmas lights and I love Christmas lights.”

My daughter, ecstatic with each glimpse, exclaimed and pointed each one out to her older brother.

A habit she learned from him.

The benefits of distracting a teething baby with Christmas lights.

Lil Diva went through a long cranky patch once teething began. Being outside, strapped in, and looking at lights was one thing that actually quieted her (taken Jan 2010).

I remember warm Texas nights when he would get cranky and my husband and I would walk around our neighborhood, the bright colors lighting our way as they distracted The Future Tackler from attempting escape from the stroller.

Then doing the same with Lil Diva.

First in the baby carrier.

Then in the stroller or walking beside us.

Uncertain if my eyes or theirs are more alight with joy.

I countdown to Thanksgiving each year, not for the food, but because I can finally thread my house with the magic. Without being “weird”.

Well, too weird.

My son helps me put up the tree, sorting the bright colored ends of the branches just as I did so many years before.

My tree is aging – it’s over ten years old. This year we had to replace the plastic stand.

It remains thick despite the constant shedding of needles.

For now.

It doesn’t matter.

Thick or thin, as I assemble the branches from low to high, I weave the strand of lights into each layer – from the center out – upon every level.

Until every section is properly covered.

I turn off the lights.

A Christmas tree isn't properly lit unless you can read by it.

Notice the shadowy figure on the right? That's me reading my new Kindle by the light of the tree.

I open a book or I turn on my new Kindle.

And I read by the glow of the tree.

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About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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6 Responses to I Am A Christmas Light Addict… And So Are My Children

  1. Sparky says:

    Hehee, this post made me nostalgic for my dorm room, then my first apartment…both had one thing in common besides the Jon Bon Jovi Leather Pants poster…

    Christmas lights.

    They weren’t confined to the cold months…the ceilings of each were strung with tiny white lights. My argument was that it made the “perfect TV lighting…no glare.” My secret was that I just loved Christmas lights enough that I made up a reason to keep them around without making my neighbors think I was more insane than they already did.

    Either way…those lights were my signature decor for years. Then, alas…I had to grow up and begin to decorate with things more mainstream than rocker posters and twinkle-lights.

    Thanks for the memories… 🙂

    • Until you mentioned it, I totally forgot I had Christmas lights in my dorm room year round… once it I had it as a single and no roommate.

      I wonder if my husband would mind the bedroom with some lights….

      It’s good to hear I’m not the only one addicted.

  2. alliwaw says:

    Love Christmas Vacation and the Griswolds! Keep buying more…live up to your aspirations – make your house as Griswold-esque as you please! Merry Christmas, may your house shine brighter than the stars 🙂

    • Alas, my fear of my husband falling off the roof (no snow here to break the fall) has restricted me to reachable decorating.

      It does look pretty nice, and I think decorating helped give some neighbors incentives to also decorate so our little neighborhood is perfect for evening walks to admire the lights.

      I hope all is well with you.

  3. Rob Rubin says:

    I actually won the neighborhood lighting contest 2 years ago in the Griswold category….and…I’m Jewish!

    I actually have a story about it on my blog if you’re interested in reading it.

    Rob, The Mainland

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