So, I suppose you could say that I have been a Christmas light enthusiast since I was a child. The twinkle, the shine and the warmth of holiday brightness would ignite a spark of magic that carried me through the holiday season. I remember riding in the backseat of the car while my mom drove all around to see the dazzling displays of resplendent houses. I would beg her to go as slow as possible so that I memorize every twinkle light that gleamed before me. I couldn’t wait to hop into bed so that I could replay the radiance over again in my head.

Once I became an adult and had my own place to decorate, I recreated those magnificent works of holiday art on my own home. Every window lined, every trim of every eave decked out to the fullest and every porch rail perfectly wrapped. Year after year, I created a new theme and proudly presented my magical masterpiece. Yet, something was missing. I never had a Clark Griswold moment of my own. Blame it on the OCD, but I never tussled with tangled lights, never shocked my senses with electrical issues and never got stranded in the attic with my memories and emotions.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Yes, it was a blessing to pull out the lights and place them with ease. It was fantastic to escape unscathed after each strand was plugged in and powered on. It was just terrific to have it all go so incredibly smooth and problem free. Hear me when I say this, I wanted my Clark moment. Maybe I need my head examined, but I just couldn’t help it. I needed the tussle, the zap, the close calls and the questioning of “why am I even doing this?” I mean seriously, is it even considered a feat of Classic Christmas Inspiration if you haven’t had to check at least 158 bulbs to find the one that is holding the entire strand hostage? I was lacking. I was empty.

This year, it happened. I found my inner Griswold and had my calamity of a Clark moment. I made the ambitious decision to take my lighting endeavor beyond the boundaries of the house and to venture into places untouched–the yard. Twenty, terrifically trimmed mini trees were positioned perfectly around the grounds. As I stood back admiring my awe-inspiring handy work, I realized I was going to have to light these white painted babes of beauty. Completely out of electrical outlets and running on fumes, I sat on the steps and pondered my dilemma. Two cups of coffee later, an idea rose into my head like Santa rising onto the rooftop. I quickly added twenty boxes of red, battery operated fairy lights to my cart and awaited their arrival.

Oh, the plans I had for these delicate fairy lights. On arrival day, I suited up to battle the bitter cold and marched into the yard. I was going to wrap each branch of every tree. I was going to create Christmas art that could be seen for miles. I was going to write my symphony. The first tree was completed and my heart grew with excitement. I was rather pleased with my work and skipped my way to the next tree.

I pulled out the lights and began to wrap when suddenly there was a snag. The lights were tangled. If you have ever encountered fairy lights, then you know that they are stranded together by a very thin line of copper wire. Have you ever seen very thin copper wire get tangled?  It is a lot like trying to find a key dropped into the ocean. Tree number two takes me over an hour to complete. Hello, Clark Griswold, nice of you to show up. Tree number three and four were not much better. By the time I got to tree five, I was ready to surrender, call an electrician, buy more “normal” lights and hire someone to finish. I took a day to rethink my decision.

On day two of the fairy light fiasco, I untangled, tussled and wrapped the day away. It was when I made it to tree number ten that I began to leave my perfectly wrapped vision in the dust and began to just get the lights attached. I think it is tree number thirteen that looks like a man riding a broom. Never the less, there I was, one tree left to complete. I could see the finish line. I was almost there. I dug in my heels and prepared to end my misery. Just as I knelt down to begin wrapping the wire around the bottom of tree number twenty, I realized the next few moments were about to hurt. Tree number twenty was not attached to its post. I fell; the tree fell. We fell together. There I was on the ground with the tree on top of me and all I could think of was Uncle Eddie standing there so eloquently saying, “You serious, Clark?” There it was, my long awaited, much needed Clark Griswold moment. Ah, the lights have never twinkled brighter.

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Pamela Rowland
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