Light It Up

IMG_0948As 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.

45 thoughts on “Light It Up

  1. Christmas lights can really be difficult in general! I LOVE them but am already dreading the job of figuring out which ones work and hope they continue and not go out, a week later-and the led-they are fine for outside, but I agree they do not afford the luxury of the glow I love! Well good for you for getting this far!

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    • Thank you! I have had people tell me that the LED lights are actually brighter, and they are, but only on the tree. They don’t actually give off light to the area around the, or at least the ones I tried didn’t. I hope you and your family have a terrific Christmas as well!

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  2. Oh Ann, how I love the way you cling to old traditions, which are the roots of civilization. You dare to be different by making sure that Christmas (note I didn’t say holidays) comes with the right spirit for your home. Have a blessed Advent season, you and your husband!

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  3. hahaha Ann, love your little story – could not stop laughing quietly to myself for some time. The story sounds only too familiar – we too are sticklers for a traditional Christmas (and remember, I was born in Germany – only silver Lametta an real tree, and lots of it, and real beeswax candles supplied by Grandpa’s bees in his garden – can you just imagine that incredible smell??) Coloured light on our own tree – NO WAY!!! Ornaments collected EVERY year from around the world – but this year, not sure if we manage to do the whole lot, due to “circumstances beyond our control” :):) – but I certainly will give it a try, even promised eldest daughter to try my hand on baking some typical German Christmas Plaetzchen (Biscuits). And of course, to you and your husband, a peaceful Advent season and just in case I can not come back here in time have a Blessed and peaceful Christmas. Carina

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    • Wow those candles must smell wonderful! And while some of our traditions may be a little different (I do colored lights on my tree), I really admire the way you stick to your traditions for Christmas! Some day, I would love to Germany in December….
      Meanwhile, I wish a blessed and peaceful Advent to Christmas to you and your family as well, Carina!

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  4. Oh Ann, despite your Christmas light dramas you’re still way more organised than me. I haven’t got anything out as yet. Good luck finding the right lights for your tree, I’m sure you’ll have them twinkling beautifully in no time at all. Wishing you a peaceful Advent season. xo

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    • I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but the tree we put in our living room actually is artificial! For years I resisted, but when the kids were young they wanted to put the tree up right after Thanksgiving, and the real trees got too dried out before Christmas was over. So I compromised: we put up an artificial tree the weekend after Christmas each year, and then in mid-December, we put up a real tree in our basement family room. That way, I get the best of both worlds.
      PS: But I’d still never do purple lights on my tree. That’s just unspeakable!

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  5. Oh dear! I never considered the difference in the glow of the lights! My tree is pre-lit with lights – I guess they are LED?? Anyway – I am like you – no Black Friday shopping. Friday after thanksgiving is for turning the house into Christmas. I put the tree up and decorate that day too! Hooray for Christmas!

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  6. Lol….a sin against God and country. I couldn’t agree more. White trees with pink lights are an abomination. I love that you still put up those big bulbs. I have some bit I’m afraid to use them they’re so old. I hope your quest is successful and you find the lights you need before Santa comes calling.
    Very funny😊

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  7. Oh the horrors of LED bulbs. We don’t have a Christmas tree but I sympathise with that sentiment of loved things vanishing. They don’t glow, no – or not the ones I’ve seen. Could you, perhaps, put a bit of mirror or aluminium foil behind each to reflect the light a bit? (A circular or oval bit, not enough to be unsightly). Also, you might look into getting some of the flickering LED candles to put around the tree – they let off some light and look very warm I’m told. You can get ones with paraffin wax outsides, too.

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    • Actually, that’s not a bad idea! I keep thinking that they will eventually figure out a way to make LED lights more like the “real” lights that I love so much. Until then, I think a bit of creativity is in order, and your suggestions are good ones. Thanks!!

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    • Thanks, Svet! I almost took that sentence out for fear of offending someone, but then I just decided to hope that people understood it was a joke! So far, so good. And I’ll keep you posted on mych for perfect tree lights.

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    • I checked Amazon, and they have the c-7 lights, but the reviews are decidedly mixed. Some of them are burning out very quickly. But the real issue was that I wanted to get this tree decorated, ASAP, so I didn’t want to wait for lights to be shipped to me, and then, if they didn’t work, have to re-order. If I had only remembered that I threw out the lights last year, I would have started this process a few weeks ago, and I bet I could have found some good ones on the internet. My poor memory is going to be the death of me yet…

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  8. Ann, I’ve been MIA for a bit and am finally checking out my reader, and was so happy when I came across your post with the pretty picture of the Christmas tree. I, too, have a fake tree and I don’t care. Real trees, in my view, are overrated. They shed so badly. It’s much easier to take it out of a box and then stuff it back in. The irony is that my father-in-law owns a Christmas tree farm! Sounds like a wonderful tradition, trimming the tree with Champagne and Nat King Cole playing. Love it.

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    • We put an artificial tree in our living room, so we can put it up early. Then I put a real one in the basement family room closer to Christmas. That way, I get the best of both worlds! There was a time when I never would have considered a “fake” tree, but as you say, they are so much easier. You can put them up when you want, they don’t shed and you don’t have to water them. Sometimes, convenience counts (as long as your father-in-law doesn’t mind!) Hope all is well with you?

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    • Glad to know it’s not just me! I still can’t believe I tossed the lights and didn’t at least write myself a note in the decorations box to remind myself. For me, decorating for Christmas is a labor of love. But spending two hours looking for lights that I threw out last year is just plain work!

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