There’s only 14 shopping days ’till Christmas! The parking lots in the malls are packed and in some parts of the country policemen on horseback are attempting to oversee crowd control as they gingerly ride their horses between motorists coming from opposite directions who are both eyeing the same ‘soon to be vacated’ parking space. You know the one – it’s closest to the entryway to the store. You just know the policeman is hoping that this will not boil down to a game of chicken as the space is being vacated by a smug shopper who unlike many of us arrived early and with tons of bags in hand has finished their shopping. Not to be deterred we push on and once inside the department store we are confronted with 25% to 50% markdowns on many items. We think to ourselves, ‘How can I pass up that deal? And find ourselves buying two of something we had intention of purchasing! We will simply review our list and decide who still needs a present and purchase their size – voila it’s done! Never mind the ‘super sale’ was on winter jackets and the family member who is still in need of a gift lives in a climate that experiences 70-75 degree winters. We justify sending the ‘super sale’ item to them by thinking, ‘they may need it when they visit a colder climate’ and we triumphantly cross off their name on our list. Yes! Oh, the fun of the season.
Rather than fighting the crowds at the stores today I decided to try to put up my Christmas lights on the outside of my house. One of my friends bought those umbrella lights that you just stretch over the bush and it’s done. Well, I think to myself, why spend money on that convenience when I have 20 or so long string of lights from last year that could be used. As I drank my second cup of coffee I could visualize myself successfully placing the lights in the bushes and smiling at the fun of it all. My courage buoyed, I decided it was time to go outside and make it happen. How hard could it be? Success is right around the corner!
First, I diligently checked each string of lights to be sure they still worked. Next, I remember with trepidation that I will eventually have to figure out how to set the automatic timer – you know the one with 9 settings or variations on it. Not to be overwhelmed so early in the process I continued to string the lights. Then a strange thing happened… After all the lights were connected to each other I discovered I didn’t end up with the proper end that has the plug on it to connect to the extension cord. How can this be? I could call the manufacturer and tell them that they made a grievous mistake but what if some loving Chinese woman with hands the size of a five year old ended up getting in trouble over my complaint. No, I better go to plan B. Maybe I should take all the lights down and start again but wait – I realized the beginning of the first string did not have a plug either! Seriously! This can’t be happening! After trying at least five different ways of connecting the various strings of lights and noticing that some of the lights that previously worked were now refusing to light up when independently connected to the extension cord I feel myself getting terribly uptight. At one point I swear that one strand which wasn’t connected to a power source appeared to be on. OK – now I am really freaked out! Are the lights smarter than me I wondered?
I must go to Plan B and call in the Calvary. I remembered my friends close by that just seem to know how how things work – as opposed to me who still gets confused about which key unlocks my door unless I put fingernail polish on the ‘special one.’ Or I could go to Plan C – my local hardware store. Maybe they would have some sort of gizmo that attaches to this or that thing to make it all work. Then I remembered how challenging it is to communicate my needs to these strange men who know 50 names for something yet become apoplectic at the use of my words such as ‘thingy’ or ‘whatchamacallit.’ Maybe that should be my last resort I think to myself. So I tried calling my friends and they weren’t home. They are probably keeping the headless horsemen on the police force entertained as they circle the parking lot looking for someplace – anyplace to park. I realized that when we are frustrated it’s hard to think clearly so I took a break and decided to walk away from my project. I remembered the phrase, ‘walk away and no one gets hurt!’ and I did. As soon as I calmed down I remembered that I’m not the straw man from the Wizard of Oz who just wanted a brain. I already have one – somewhere – and decided that given enough time I will figure something out- just not today. Sometimes avoidance is the only worthwhile salve for a bruised ego!
Since wasting time is not an option at this time of year I decided to tackle the Christmas tree instead. Realizing the tree has lights already on it I felt I was halfway home but here is the caveat for those glorious faux trees. You need to be able to manage to hold all three parts of the tree (which together are quite heavy) to get them out of the box. You must be very careful because although the three parts are independent of each other they are mysteriously connected with delicate wires that one must be careful not to damage for the pre-lit effect to work (think of an umbilical cord here to get the picture). Well, the tree is up now and I look at my carpet…how can an artificial tree shed its needles? They are making fake trees too real for my liking! I’m not kidding – is this a conspiracy I wonder as my vacuum goes into overdrive to sweep up that mound of green.
By now, I’m exhausted and think to myself, ‘Maybe tomorrow I’ll attack the outside lights again or just take them down – after all Christmas will be over in 14 days. But who knows, if Santa is watching, he knows I have been good this year and maybe he’ll send one of his elves to my house tonight as an early Christmas gift and make those *+#* lights work! Hey… once an optimist always as optimist!
Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity of what we put ourselves through and yet the memories can make us laugh for years to come.
Have a great few days!