COLUMN: Shining a light on Christmas decorating difficulties

Getting your home ready for the holidays isn’t always easy, writes Nick Greenizan

When it comes to Christmas lights, I admit that I’ve given up.

Now, I’m as big a fan of Christmas as you’ll find – it is, without question, my favourite time of year – and as a kid, I used to love helping my dad put the lights on the house.

I was never much of a help, mind you – more of a supervisor and overall reviewer.

“Those lights are too close together.”

“That row has too many burned-out bulbs.”

“You missed a spot.”

Sure, my critiques were annoying for my dad to hear, as he tried to balance himself on a ladder 12 feet above the ground, as cold, winter winds whistled around him, but it was for the greater good.

Quality control, and all that.

It was worth it, too, once the job was done and the last extension cord was plugged in. There were no Clark Griswolds on my street growing up, but most of my neighbours always had pretty good displays, too, so it made for a pretty festive street when all was said and done.

Seeing all those lights, more than anything else, is what used to first get me into the Christmas spirit.

Well, fast-forward a few decades, and my eight-year-old self would be pretty unimpressed with what I have become, as the decorations on my house have become more Charlie Brown Christmas than Griswoldian.

And I don’t really have any desire to change that, either.

Because if there’s one thing my younger self didn’t understand then that the adult version does now, it’s this: Christmas decorations are an awful lot of work.

Now, I live in a rowhouse, so my outdoor lights are minimal – a few strings hung over the front door, and I’m basically done.

But even that seems like a lot of work sometimes. In fact, a few years ago I didn’t put up any lights at all once I decided that untangling the strings – which were not-so-lovingly stored in a utility closet – would have taken me through the 12 Days of Christmas and beyond.

And replacing burned-out strings? Forget about it.

I’m not much more ambitious when it comes to indoor decorations, either. I love the end result – the tree, the wreath on the door, and of course, the dog pawing at, then chewing, the garland that runs up the staircase – but wrestling the tree up from the basement (No, we don’t do real trees in our house.) is never fun, and then there’s always more of those damn lights.

A few years ago, we relented and bought a tree with built-in, pre-strung lights, and setup was admittedly a breeze – a Christmas miracle, if ever I needed one.

If I could find a house with pre-strung lights, maybe we’d move.

Or maybe this year I’ll be visited on Christmas Eve by my eight-year-old self, and he’ll give me a stern talking to about the state of my holiday decorations, and I’ll be encouraged to put forth a little more effort next time.

If he could untangle a few strings of lights for me while he’s here, that’d be pretty helpful, too.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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