As far as I’m concerned, the very second Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season begins. Within hours of clearing away the Thanksgiving dinner table and dividing up the left over turkey among my family, I am already planning my Christmas decorations for this year. Others may spend Black Friday battling the crowds at the malls and big box stores for bargains, but I spend the day after Thanksgiving getting my house ready for Christmas. I drag out my boxes of Christmas decorations while my husband assembles the tree in our living room in preparation for our annual tree trimming, which is always done while drinking champagne and listening to Nat King Cole. Before the weekend is over, both my house and the tree are usually fully decorated.
Until this year, that is. This year, things went terribly wrong.
We couldn’t find the lights for our Christmas tree. We spent hours searching every box in the basement and every closet in the house before we came to the sad conclusion that we must have thrown them out when we took the tree down last year, because we were worried that they were getting too hot to be safe. We decorate our tree with antique Christmas ornaments and like to string old-fashioned ceramic bulbs to go with them, but sometimes those bulbs can get very hot and then we worry about them being a fire hazard. So we headed to the stores in hopes of finding some new ceramic lights that we could safely string on our tree.
But old-fashioned ceramic lights turned out to be very difficult to find. The store shelves are full of the new LED lights, in an amazing array of colors and shapes. If I wanted lights that shifted from colored to white and then back to colored again in less than five seconds, they had them. If I wanted strings of miniature lights, flashing lights, lights that were shaped like Mickey Mouse’s ears, they had them. They even had strings of somewhat normal shaped bulbs, but they included pink, yellow and purple lights, and Christmas lights were never meant to come in those colors. That’s just a sin against God and country, as far as I’m concerned.
Finally, I found a string of old-fashioned C-7 sized bulbs in normal Christmas colors, so I bought three packages. Then I spotted some LED lights, also in normal colors and only slightly larger bulbs than I’m used to, so I bought some of those as well, as a back-up. But when I got home, I discovered that the old-fashioned lights became hot enough to burn my fingers within minutes of plugging them in, so I decided to suck it up and venture into new territory by stringing the LED lights on the tree. It took me two hours and five strings, but I finally got them all on.
And my husband and I actually thought they didn’t look too bad, until we made the mistake of turning off the rest of the living room lights to bask in the glow of our Christmas tree lights. Because there wasn’t any glow to bask in. LED lights may be bright and look pretty on the tree, but they throw out no light at all. None. And what’s the point of having a lighted Christmas tree if you can’t sit in the living room on a cold December night, with nothing on but the tree lights and a fire in the fireplace, and enjoy the soft, cozy glow?
So, tonight we went back to the store, and found some “cool light” C-7 bulbs that look old-fashioned enough to show off our antique ornaments and bathe our living room in a Christmas glow without threatening to burn the house down. I’m going to put them on the tree tomorrow, and hope that they work out. Because if they don’t, I’m going to be spending the next few days searching for lights that do work out, and time is not on my side. But no one ever said the quest for holiday perfection was an easy one.