Good evening Wonderers:
I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to post today’s craft because it literally took me a whole day to put it together. This one might be considered another “c” word beside craft. A word like challenge or maybe even chore but for me I like to word chaos.
I over heard a neighbor talking about the neighborhood is “playing keeping up with the Jones’s”. I Had to think about that one for a minute and I decided to tell you about why I hang lights up for Christmas. I know I’ve told you guys about some of my Christmas memories before and here’s another one.
I came up in the 60’s and 70’s when a string of lights went on individual bulbs. I recently saw replacement bulbs in the store and wondered who still uses them? Well I wished I had kept up with the old lights my grandfather used to hang. Every year my Pop-Pop would sit out on the front porch and wash, test, and replace each of the bulbs on those old lights while smoking Lucky Strike cigarettes. He’d be making up stories about us riding in wagons visiting family and how Santa was coming to town and would use those lights to find the house because he didn’t have a fireplace or chimney. My Pop would spins yarns for hours keeping us outside in the Philadelphia coldness of winter while my grandmother made Thanksgiving dinner. Those lights would be up from Thanksgiving until New Years and they were never turned off, or went out or burnt out. He had so much pride in displaying those big bright lights even when everyone else went to the new fangled version. He held fast to the tried and true version until his passing. But I can still see him and those lights.
At our house my Dad would unravel lights and lay them across the living room floor and no matter what he said, somebody would walk by and step on them and break a bulb. In those days if you broke one, the whole string would go out. But my dad had the patience of a saint. He would just laugh and run through those lights until he got them working again and again and again every year. We lived in the first house on the block and he set the tone of the season and he was known as the “light fixer” and would help anyone light up their house. His lights woud be up from Thanksiving until New Years and never burnt out or fell down. He would pack blankets, hot chocolate and Christmas cookies into the station wagon and ride us around West Philadelphia to see the lights. He had so much joy into putting those lights up for us and still lights up his house every year.
Now here I am outside in 60 degree weather putting up lights. Last week I was so excited that I called my dad after going through the lights on my pre-lit Christmas tree. The middle of the tree had burnt out. It took me four hours to find the three bulbs that burnt out but I got them and my tree is fully lit again. I said, “Hey Dad. I feel like I just graduated from the George Stevenson school of Christmas light Repair!” Boy did he find that funny. He laughed and we had a long talk about Christmas past and I felt like I was right around the corner instead of the long distance between us.
So today I hung lights that didn’t connect correctly. I needed a grounded extension cord for some of it. Went to Walmart and got one, took down the lights and got the ideal from my dad to light them up first, connect them then put them up. Everything was in place and working when Alex gets off the school bus and steps on a string going across the front porch, although I told him to go up the walkway! I HAD to go BACK to Walmart and get another string of colored lights because I was NOT going to go through the string. I got them all lit again when for some strange reason a string of colored lights went out on the first shrub. I went back to Walmart and got another string of colored lights and put them up and now a string of white lights are out on the center post so I give in. I’m going to say it’s not the lights so they will burn until New Years but there is a short in the shrub. It’s not the lights!
So neighbor, in case you were wondering,
I’m not trying to keep up with the Jones’s. It’s way more serious than that. I’m trying to keep up with the memories my grandfather (may he rest in peace) and my dad (may God grant him a many more Christmas) left me. I’m trying to light up my generation’s memories in hopes that I’ll stay lit up in their minds and never burn out.