As I told you last week, several years ago I invited members of my family to write their Christmas stories and send them to me. I gathered those stories into a booklet, printed it out and that was one of my Christmas gifts to the family that year. This is the second story I have put on my blog. It was written by both Son #2 (she calls him WB) and his wife, Kara (you can click on her name to view her blog). I laughed until I hurt when I read their two versions of the same story. I hope you enjoy this one!
It was going to be a wonderful Christmas. It was our first official Christmas in our first home as a married couple. I couldn't wait to start putting up decorations and filling our little house with holiday cheer. I had visions of sparkling lights hanging from the rooftop, luminarias lighting the entrance way and a majestic tree adorning our front room. As I stood outside staring at the front of our house one December afternoon I contemplated my strategy.
"I need a theme," I thought to myself. "Something traditional yet unique. No icicle dripping lights for us; besides the stores had been out of them since before Thanksgiving. I'm thinking white lights strung across the roof line, no mixing & matching, just plain white lights. Maybe some lights on the bushes as well. Then some pine boughs encircling our front windowpanes. Maybe a few velvet bows to tie it off. Nothing flashy, nothing plastic, just simple. Possibly a spotlight to shine on the wreath that will hang on the front door. Luminarias would be nice, but I couldn't use plastic ones and the paper bag ones might not weather the next couple of weeks. Guess I'll skip that."
I was thinking of all the Christmas themes my Mom had done over the years. Her decorations were always tasteful, unique, and catching to the eye. She always used real luminarias, fresh pine boughs, etc. She was always ahead of her time in the decorating area. Bless my Dad for trying to untangle the lights each year. The neighborhood was always aware of our lights going up when my Dad's shouts of frustration echoed down the street. Speaking of men and lights, I needed to enlist the help of my husband. Oh, I could have done it myself, but it would be more fun to involve WB. I saw him putzing around inside the garage as I contemplated my game plan.
"WB, let's put up Christmas lights!" I yelled to my husband who suddenly disappears around the corner of the garage. When he reappears and walks toward me I can tell he thinks this does not sound like fun.
"Okay, here's the plan." I began to tell him all my ideas and ask for his input (I've learned that this is important in marriage).
He took a deep breath and looked me in the eye and says, "Go for it!" and began to walk away.
"Whoa, you don't expect me to do this on my own? Besides, you are good with electricity," I respond. This I've learned in a year of marriage is called stroking his ego. "Why don't you get the lights and I'll work on the windows. And what about a spotlight; we don't have one," I blurted out in a rush knowing I may lose him at any moment to tools in the garage.
Reluctantly WB went into the attic to dig out the lights we had bought. I settled for manufactured pine boughs bought at Wal-Mart. This distressed me but WB assured me it looked natural as I wrapped the long strings around the windows.
After some time the lights seemed to have been hung. I wasn't crazy about the bright orange extension cord that hangs from the edge of the roof to the ground by the garage, but WB assured me that no one would notice it, especially at night.
I had been unsuccessful in explaining the concept of a spotlight to my husband. This was very frustrating to me because I didn't think it was a difficult concept to grasp. I tried to explain to my husband for the hundredth time, "It's just a big bulb on a stake stuck in the yard and you plug it in!"
"What's it connected to? How does it light up?" WB asked again.
"Oh, geez, it's a light! A light you shine on things." Why was he making it so complicated? My parents had two in their front yard and for the next week I frantically searched the neighborhoods for some to show to WB. He wanted to rig an elaborate electrical system and I just wanted a spotlight on my door. I finally gave up and decided that the porch light would do.
Finally, we had to get a Christmas tree. I'm not sure who first mentioned the idea of a living tree, but I ran with it. We found a nice Norfolk pine about 3 feet high. We set it on top of a table by our window in the front room. I told WB it was perfect, small and young, but that we will have it for years and each Christmas it will grow and flourish just like us. It was a symbol of our marriage and all the Christmases we would share. I envisioned ten years into the future a six-foot tall tree surrounded by our children and I'll tell them, "your Dad and I got this tree on our first Christmas together and it has grown taller and stronger each year." It was the perfect last touch to our Christmas decorations.
It was going to be our first Christmas in our first home as a married couple. Kara had big plans for decorating, and set about trying to implement those plans. Kara spoke of visions of luminarias, simple white lights strung all along the roof line and bushes, pine boughs, velvet bows and a majestic tree in our front room. One lesson that I have come to learn in our marriage is that when Kara does the planning, WB gets to do the implementing.
I asked her, "What about the lighted plastic snowman, where will he go? And the plastic Santa, and the lighted plastic candles? Should we put those on the porch or in front of the bushes?" I smiled inwardly as Kara glared at me.
Kara then said that we would need a spotlight. After looking over the front of the house, I realized that there were no electrical outlets. Not one to be bothered by minor logistical impediments, Kara continued on with explaining how the spotlight would herald the spirit of Christmas at our house. I made the mistake of asking, "What would the light shine on?" Exasperated, Kara replied, "Our front door!" I pondered the architectural implications of highlighting our otherwise uninspiring front door, but I still remained puzzled as to what the spotlight had to do with Christmas. I could understand putting a spotlight on the chimney, or setting some spotlights out front like those seen at movie premiers so that Santa wouldn't miss the house, but I thought that the porch did an adequate job of lighting the front door.
After a thorough evaluation of the electrical demands of Kara's planned Christmas decorations, we settled on a string of white lights across the front roof line. Of course, I had to run an extension cord from the garage to provide power for the lights, which meant that during the day I had to remove the unsightly orange cord and replace it at dusk.
Our thoughts turned to the interior decorations, and most importantly, the tree. We both decided that a living Christmas tree would be both a nice economical and sentimental touch to our first Christmas. We bought a small Norfolk pine and set it on a table in our front room. Each year, the tree would grow and mark the passage of time as we would decorate it for Christmas. We envisioned that our children would help us decorate the very same tree. Best of all, we wouldn't have to spend any more money on Christmas trees!
Christmas came and Kara and I shared a wonderful holiday in our new home. However, six months later, the Norfolk pine had died, and Kara was already making plans for the holiday decorations, plans that included two spotlights; one red and one green.
As I remember it, we were at the hardware store and we finally found the elusive spotlights. The single spotlight was quite elaborate enough so WB insisted on the double one and he also chose the bulbs! It looks good on my front door, but not as good as it will look on my new front door WB will install for me next year:)
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