Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lighting My World and Dimming My Patience

After a lengthy conversation about paring down the decorations for the holidays, my husband and I decided we’d only use five strings of miniature lights this year on our outside bushes. After all, what did we care that most of the houses on our block looked like a remake of National Lampon’s Christmas Vacation? We were going to be different. We were going to be minimalists this year.

For those who have a burning desire to test their patience during the Christmas season, I would recommend miniature (micro) lights be put on your list. Be sure to get those tiny, eco-friendly LED ones that cost an arm and leg at your nearest hardware store. And, be certain you purchase the ones that are advertised as the easy, low maintenance ones that are guaranteed to stay lit even through hundred-mile-an-hour winter winds.

We decided the easiest and most practical way to go about our task was to arrange some greens with white lights in our upright flower box that stands on the stoop, then drop two strands of colored lights on each of the two rhododendron bushes beside the door. What could be more simple and hassle-free? Five strands of lights total. Ten minutes flat to deck the bushes in magical colors. Fa la la la la! All done.

I should mention that my husband is the eternal optimist with a merry and bright sort of attitude during the Christmas season. His minimal holiday lighting effort looked terrific, understated and festive . . . for one night. Then a ten-light section on two of the colored strands, one on each bush for matching frustration, went out.

According to the package directions, this was not supposed to happen. However, I knew it was futile, on short notice, to try to locate the Chinese factory worker, Inspector-Packer Number RJ12, who was responsible for assuring eager buyers that the lights were in perfect working order. The toll-free number on the box was answered by a recording that put me on hold, playing Christmas music in my ear and finally winning the battle on who could be really be more tenacious and patient this holiday season. I caved and hung up.

However, the longer Scott and I pondered our lighting dilemma, the more plausible our conclusions became about why only ten consecutive lights on a parallel string no longer worked. I have to admit, I thought it was a result of the excessive rains we’d been having. My husband surmised some fuses in the two strands were blown.

So off came all the lights from the bushes. Minutes later, when Scott plugged them into the garage socket, he watched in amazement as all the strands lit up. “Ho, Ho, Ho!” he said cheerfully, “Christmas wishes do come true!” (Did I tell you he’s an eternal optimist?)

Actually, there was no logical explanation to this Christmas miracle except that taking them off had shaken the bulbs in their sockets. Thus, Scott made sure all bulbs were tightened and, with a jolly, “Let’s try it again,” he plodded off to the front of the house to return the lights to the bushes.

He had no soon arranged everything back on the rhododendrons, connected them to power, when all the strands magically lit up. . .then one dimmed and a ten-light section flickered and died. Again.

It safe to say that the particular string of lights is now residing in the depths of our  garbage can, replaced by a new one. After all, even the rhododendron bush was getting weary of being manhandled.

But I ask a favor of you. On your forays into the world of outdoor decorating, if you happen to run across the Inspector-Packer Number RJ12 of Brighter than Bright Lights, would you please let him know that I’d like a word with him?