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Red Light

Red Light

December 2005 Raleigh, NC

____________________________________


Contrary to popular belief, I actually do learn from my past. Most of the time. Okay, some of the time. For instance, at work, "The Wizard of Oz" and I are ancient history. I will check the yard for Big Rocks before mowing the lawn now. And I won't be cutting my hair again for a long, long time.

Today's "What Have We Learned" comes from a story I told back a few weeks ago having to do with being the first on our block to have our house's Christmas lights turned on. Those who have been following along with the story will remember that we were the first because I never took them down last year. They've been up there, unlit, all year long where I've smiled at them through the seasons.

What I failed to mention a few weeks ago was that a number of the lights no longer worked. Like lots of them. The one string that ran across the apex of the roof (which, in my defense, had some serious problems last year) was completely dead with some of the bulbs partially filled with water. Those that ran along the gutters were maybe 20% dead, with many of them suffering from a sad lack of paint on the outside of the bulb.


Green Light

Green Light

December 2005 Raleigh, NC

____________________________________


I climbed up on the roof this past weekend and spent some time replacing most of the dead bulbs and resolved to take them down sometime after Christmas.

It almost feels like cheating now.

...
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First Christmas Lights on the Block

First Christmas Lights on the Block

November 2005 Raleigh, NC

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The picture above, taken this past Saturday afternoon, stakes my official claim as having the earliest lit Christmas lights on any house on our block. And our whole neighborhood. Probably the whole town and within a 5 mile radius. Not that I drove through that many streets to verify this claim, but I feel pretty safe in saying it.

You'll notice that I didn't lay claim to having put our lights up the earliest, just that they're the first that have been lit.

Yeah, you guessed it.

This goes back a few years. About three years ago, after hanging all of the lights in December, I couldn't see any good reason for taking them down again. Bonn, on the other hand, was a bit more concerned with "what the neighbors might think" and kept asking me to take them down. I viewed this with a healthy degree of Male Laziness while she ended up viewing this as a Battle of Wills.

One Saturday afternoon in May I heard a ripping type of sound coming from the front of the house, accompanied by the shattering of glass. She'd finally had enough and managed to yank them all down. I was equal parts annoyed that so many light bulbs were broken (leaving broken bits of glass everywhere) and impressed that she'd actually managed to do so.

The next year I dutifully took them down sometime in January or February. When she discovered that I'd done so, she asked me why.

"What do you mean, 'why?'" I asked.

"I just assumed you were going to leave them up all year," she said with a shrug.

So, last year I did.

Now, some of the paint has flecked off of the lights and many of the lights have broken since last December, but that's what second-hand stores are for. I plugged them in on Saturday afternoon and loved the sight of them. Saturday night, when they were the only ones lit anywhere around, they made me smile. Driving home after picking up The Boy from work they made me laugh as I drove down the road towards home.

Sunday evening Bonn came storming at me. "I can't believe you have the Christmas lights on!"

"Um, they've been on since Saturday. I forgot to turn them off."

"But we're the only ones around with them on!"

"Yeah," I said beaming pride and happiness.

She just shook her head.

Last night I saw our Christmas Lights Competitive Next Door Neighbors and asked if they'd seen our lights on. The young wife smiled and said she had, but her husband had refused to put out their lights until after Thanksgiving.

"Okay," I said, with a big smile. "That's okay. We just need to be clear that I Won."

"Maybe," she retorted. "But we have a tree up already."

Sure enough, there was a small, while table-top Christmas tree lit up on a table in front of a window in their living room.

I just smiled.

...

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