If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Rituals

I think we all believe in that Courier and Ives setting or Norman Rockwell image for Christmas.  In reality, though, lots of times our rituals are more like Clark Griswald's or maybe even a bit worse.

A few weeks ago my daughter-in-law came to spend the night when Bryan was out of town.  She was completing her student teaching assignment and the trek from their apartment to her school was at least an hour's drive.  We live only minutes to the school, so when he traveled, she came to visit us for the night.  Mike and I loved it!

Anyway, on one of these visits, Jessica mentioned that she and Bryan had put up their Christmas tree and decorations the previous evening.  She said that she paused and asked him if he had any memories of rituals or decorating from when he was younger.  She said he just looked at her in confusion.  So, she elaborated, "You know, did your mom bake cookies or play Christmas music while you decorated or something like that?"  His response was, "Well, mostly I just remember untangling the lights and lots of cussing."  What a proud moment that was for me!  Warm fuzzy memories like that just cannot be staged.

Sadly, I think that is what happened a lot of times.  We would be in a rush and hurrying to get the decorations done.  Bryan's father and he would hang the lights on the outside of the house and Bridgette and I would hang the lights and ornaments inside on the tree.  I was usually tired from dashing from work to some practice or lesson and it just never seemed to be their father's desire to help decorate for the holidays. 

Ironically, it was just a week later when Mike hauled the tree up from the basement for me and helped me to set it up.  I was eagerly looking forward to decorating the tree and settling in with a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy its beauty.  Yet, when I plugged in the cord for the pre-lit tree, this is what we saw:

Guess what I did!

I'm sure you can imagine.  I was so frustrated.  This tree has only been used four years.  What a pain!  I set about looking and wiggling to see if something was loose.  I plugged and unplugged  and replugged.  Then, I dug the manual/directions out of the box and looked at the troubleshooting tips.  I began replacing bulb after bulb using the ones in the little plastic bag that had been thrown in the bottom of the box.  I replaced every fuse in each strand attached to the tree.  Nothing seemed to work.  So, guess what I did...

I'm sure you can imagine.  Then, I just unplugged it and took a shower.  Of course, this is after I had spent an entire afternoon and evening earlier in the week wrestling with the garlands and lights I put on the porch rails.

Front Porch

 Some of them had strands that would be lit up halfway across then had a three or four foot stretch that didn't light and the rest of the strand would light. Finally, I wound up pulling all the lights off all the garlands and and replacing them.

Back Porch

As you can see, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry.  Do you notice the area almost smack in the middle of the deck rail?  No, you see it right, no lights are shining.  That is a place where I didn't put a brand new strand - it was left from last year.  Yet, it worked when I plugged it in before I wove it into the garland.  However, after I hung it and plugged it in - about 2/3 of the strand does not work.  Guess what I did?

I'm sure you can imagine.  So, both attempts at decorating with lights were dismal failures at this point.  After my shower, I had calmed down a bit and curled up on the couch with my cup of hot chocolate.  Jessica's little talk with me came to mind.  So, I took the photo that starts off this post and sent it in a text message to her and Bryan accompanied by the question, "Guess what I'm doing." 

Almost immediately I got a response from Bryan.  He sent this photo:

Accompanied by this text:  "The same thing I am?"

Guess what I did?  Laugh out loud!