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Oh Christmas Tree, Mine Enemy

on December 7, 2011 - 4:09pm

See it glowing, so lovely, so welcoming? It's all a ruse to lull you into a sense of calm.

It all started a week ago.

Yetch and I brought the tree upstairs. Since I'm a light fanatic when it comes to Christmas trees (thank you Mom), I tend to have more lights than most people. In fact, I have so many lights my tree looks as though it's decorated before I hang the first ornament.

Because of this, I don't take the lights off each year. Instead, we carry it into the storage room every January, throw a large orange jack o'lantern plastic bag over top, and leave it alone.

What follows is a mundane, boring tale of how Christmas has an evil side lurking beneath it, and how it all started with a string of lights.

Day 1

Go to plug in the tree. Discover we are out of power bars. Decide to use a regular extension cord for now.

Plug the tree in. A string of lights near the middle-right side is burnt out.

Looks like a string of 100.  I go to the store to get a power bar and lights. 

I look at both LED lights and regular bulbs, knowing I had planned to start buying LEDs but could not recall if I'd started the process. Decided I didn't want to risk the LEDs looking different from the regular lights and grab a string of 100 regular lights. Head home.

Turns out I have started to buy LED lights and they blend in. Swear a little at my mistake.

Get to the end of the dead string...or what should have been the end. Discover it's a string of 200 - half of which are out, and half of which are lit. I swear a little more since I didn't buy enough lights, and debate my next step.

Remove bad string, rearrange other strings to compensate. Leave room for 10 minutes.

Return to find a string at the top of the tree is burnt out. Swear loudly with accusations towards said tree. 

Wait for Yetch to get home and ask him to contribute to the light fund. Will resume tomorrow.

Day 2

Go back to the store. Buy 2 strings of LED lights. 

Come home and start unwinding dead lights from tree. 

Begin task of adding new lights. 

Realize the lights have a different hue (does not have pink bulbs like other LED/normal lights on tree). Swear. 

Decide to push forward regardless. Maybe it won't be too noticeable. 

Hours later, it's a glaring difference.

Ponder alternatives. Decide to sleep on it.

Day 3

Can't live with glaring difference in lights. Best course of action is to buy LEDs to replace most of the old lights. Maybe if tree is 3/4 blue-dominant new LED, I won't mind it so much. Will mix in the new string of regular lights and the old LEDs with pink lights in them to compensate for slight difference between the 2 hues.

While it's fun to spend entire days winding and unwinding lights on trees, I realize I have to work too. 

Day 4

Buy several boxes of overpriced LED lights.

Day 5 

Start the task of unwinding old lights off tree and adding new LED lights to top 3/4 of tree. 

Hours pass. 

Look at tree. Realize initial plan is faulty. Swear a lot. Take allergy pill to fight againt all the dust that has been directly inserted under my skin by scratchy tree branches, causing hives to appear on my face. 

Lick my wounds and retire for the night.

Day 6

Think "*#$! it" and bite the bullet, buying 5 more boxes of overpriced LEDs I can't afford (Yetch can get candy for his birthday this year).

Take off remaining lights.

Add new lights.

Put 3 strings of old lights (2x100s & 1x200) back on tree, this time spread out to balance blue colour.

Hands look like stray cats have attacked me. 

Day 7

Do the math in my head over morning coffee. There are now 975 lights on the tree. Which means not only did I put 975 lights on, I took about the same amount off. And put some on. And took some off. And moved others around. 

Look at my still swollen hands, decorated with fine red scratches.

Christmas is carnage.

Decide if anything else happens with lights, I will carry the tree out to the backyard and set it on fire.






CrankyAmy's picture

That, my dear, is a lot of lights. And it give the tree an oddly, yet very pretty, violet hue (crossing fingers that you don't mind it having a violet hue, because if you take lights off again, I may hear you screaming all the way down here in Texas).

Ghoul Friday's picture

It does. It was bright blue before I mixed in the other lights. I can live with the violet ;)

Lisa's picture

Sheesh! That's a lot of drama! I hope you're happy with how it looks!

Caffeinated Joe's picture

That is a lot of work, but the tree is very pretty in the photo, so I imagine it is ever nicer in reality. Chalk it up to a future funny story and enjoy the beauty you have created!

David's picture

I usually aim for about 100-150 lights per foot of tree, so depending on how tall your tree is, that sounds about right.

That's also why I take off the lights every year. Haven't made the switch to LEDs yet, planning on it after this year though. Do you like the LEDs?

Ghoul Friday's picture

Thanks Lisa and Joe ;)

Dave: My tree is somewhere close to 6 feet. I REALLY like the original string of LEDs I bought that have the pink in them. They look just like normal lights but a bit brighter. The ones I got this time around are too blue on their own (red, blue, green, yellow bulbs). The blue and red are uber bright, which is kinda neat but will take getting used to.

The other LED has a lighter blue, pink, red, green and yellow/orange. It gives a warmer, more subtle glow. So if you're making the switch, I suggest making sure there's a pink in there (unless you like a cooler hue).

I will say, I love the fact that with normal lights you're only supposed to string together 3 or 4. With these, they say the limit is 47 ;) 

halloween spirit's picture

. . . and here I was thinking my approximate tree count of 200 lights was a lot. Your tree looks lovely though. I'd consider adding more lights to mine, if your story hadn't left me trembling with fear. ;O)

Colleen's picture

Beautiful tree! But... Holy cow! Can you look directly at it??

Ali's picture

Oh my lord.... That was hilarious!!! Here's a suggestion to simplify the process and save your physical, emotional and financial well being in the future; just put up a framed photo of the tree.

aSmarterU's picture

It's a very beautiful tree, well worth the effort.

Bonnie (aka RoxyBlue)'s picture

Maybe next year you should scrap the tree and just hang the lights in a tree shape. That would save you the scratches:)

Tom (aka Spooky1) had a similar experience hanging the outside lights this year. Tested them all indoors, they all worked, got them all hung up, plugged them in, sections of light strands not lit. Go figure. Go out and buy more LED lights, color not quite the same when lit, but "close enough" was the consensus of opinion.

I love Christmas:)

Ghoul Friday's picture

Halloween Spirit: To be fair, I haven't had to do a big light overhaul in more than 5 years (the strands that were burnt out were made in 2006). And in theory, the LEDs should last longer so in theory, I won't have to go through this again for a while. And all the LEDs are on the inside of the branches, and the leftover regular bulbs are on the outside so I can take them off without having to disturb the other lights. But that will not be this year ;)

Colleen: lol yes, but you have to use an eclipse box ;) The older lights - especially on my mother's tree when I was younger - used to actually heat up the livingroom. 

Ali & Bonnie: I've made a mental note of your suggestions. Don't be surprised if that's what you see on the blog next year. And Bonnie, I laughed to know I'm not the only one who had lights trick her into thinking they were working ;) Like Tom, if this had been outdoor lights, I WOULD have said close enough! I tried with the tree but it just mocked me everytime I went into the livingroom!


Pam Morris's picture

OMG and ROFL and LMAO!!! I think this is the funniest thing I've read in quite a while!! my stomach hurts...I guess it's because most of us or at least I can definitely relate to this...had the same "walk out of the room for 10 minutes" and half the lights are out when you walk back in. unlike you, however, I just said, *^%# it, and threw another string of lights over the 'dead' ones. I figured after I put some ornaments on, nobody's gonna' notice. anyway, thanks for a right good laugh...really enjoyed reading this!

art bliss's picture

Wow, you should be able to roast marshmallows in the glow!! Hilarious post. Hitch Park suggested I stop over for a fun read, glad I did.

Dave's picture

I didn't know your last name was Griswold :)

Ghoul Friday's picture

Pam: I debated unwinding the half dead end and leaving the working end of the 200 lights on, but figured it was only a matter of time before the working half died too ;)

Art Bliss: I COULD with the original lights but those LEDs are WAY cooler to the touch, which is a bonus.

Dave: I was actually watching Christmas Vacation when this happened on Day 1. Was most frustrated at the same moment Clark was kicking the plastic reindeer on his lawn. 

HayBudden's picture

That there is a magnificent tree and I am quite envious. I have failed altogether to produce a proper Christmas tree this year, schedule just wouldn't allow it. Thank you for sharing yours. Is that a light out, 2nd strand from the bottom, off to the right ~ 3 o'clock? :)

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