by admin | December 2, 2016 9:22 am
As is East Texas tradition, I worked up a sweat hanging Christmas lights and swatting away mosquitoes on Thanksgiving morning. I don’t think I have ever hung lights when it was cold, even when I have put off the task until mid-December. Invariably, a warm front will sweep in from the Gulf Coast on the appointed day, putting a damper on the Yule spirit. It is likely my Yankee upbringing, but there is something askew about hanging Christmas lights while wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Maybe in Florida or Southern California, but the rest of the nation deserves Christmas-like weather this time of year. Happily, at least in my view, cool late-autumn weather arrived not long after I finished this task.
This is our fifth Christmas in this lovely neighborhood, filled with trees turning color, leaves skittering across the asphalt, birds chirping, leaf blowers whining. It is a rare afternoon when a leaf blower isn’t going somewhere, an army of trailers filled with mowers prowling the streets.
On our first Christmas here, one of the light-hanging companies placed a doorknob hanger that advertised reasonable prices for doing that chore. These companies do it all: bring their own lights, hang them, check for burnouts, then take them down. What the heck, we thought. Let’s find out what it costs. We were newly married and had a ragtag collection of lights.
The lowest bid was $400, with cost escalating up to $800 for an elaborate setup. $400! I headed to the Big Box Store and bought $60 worth of lights and plastic clips and put them up myself. Quality-wise, I can’t tell any difference between our house and those done by the pros. Of course, some houses in this neighborhood have steep-pitched roofs I would not venture upon, but that was not the case with ours. I have been our light installer since.
We don’t have a traditional Christmas tree this year. We are full up with Christmas decorations, so it is not as if we are Grinches. My Beautiful Mystery Companion, the best bargain-hunter in America, bought a pair of fake trees with bare branches and white lights. She was concerned after realizing one was labeled “Aspen and Pine,” and the other “Birch.” They looked identical to my myopic eye. I suggested nobody will notice, which I think is a safe bet. Heck, they’re both white.
Meanwhile, at her behest, I hung large ornaments on a couple trees outside. It rained the next day. Some of the ornaments filled with water and fell. Being “Handy Manny,” as I’m called around here, I got some caulk, drained the ornaments and plugged the holes near the hangers that allowed in water. Caulking Christmas tree ornaments is a bit surrealistic.
It is probably for the best we don’t have an actual tree, with a stand, lights, breakable ornaments and such. Our two new kitties, Tater and Tot, are still in the training stage — as much as cats can be trained, which isn’t much. On the same trip to buy caulk at the neighborhood hardware store, I bought an empty spray bottle, which now sits filled with water on the kitchen island. With a red Sharpie, I labeled it the “Tater-ater,” since he is the primary offender. Every time we catch him on the counter he gets a stream of water in his face. Tot also sins on occasion and receives similar treatment. Eventually they will decide jumping on the counter is counter-productive to their peace of mind. If we had a Christmas tree with low-hanging baubles, it would not be a pretty sight.
I have a poor record with Christmas trees. Many years ago, I once lost patience with a tree that would not stand upright and nailed the stand to the wooden floor. I had to buy new carpet once the season passed. Another time, I used picture-frame wire and eyehooks to secure a tree to a nearby window frame. These are not actions one takes to improve a home’s value.
It will truly feel like Christmas when I light the first fire of the season. There is an actual East Texas cold front forecast for this weekend, rainy and cold. I plan to haul firewood up close to the house on Friday, and be ready for our first chance to hear the pop and crackle of red-oak ablaze.
I love that sound.
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