Denise Day Spencer

November 28, 2006

Decking the halls–Spencer style

Filed under: Home Front — denisedayspencer @ 1:40 am

Well, another turkey day has come and gone. We got to have all three kids (two kids and one kid-in-law) home for the holiday, and that was a real blessing.

A special treat for me was the fact that both Noel and Clay had decided on their own that the house must be decorated for Christmas while they were here. Noel, in particular, is a real go-getter where any sort of project is concerned. She made countless trips to the shed to haul in the Christmas trunk and all the boxes. She orchestrated the re-arranging of the furniture to accomodate the tree. She made Ryan and Clay hop to it and hoist a heavy chair down the hall to one of the bedrooms. She assembled the tree while I went for a carefree walk on the farm. (I ran into a friend of mine and told her, “The elves are decorating my house while I’m away!”) It was great.

Until the lights. Has anybody besides me noticed that nothing can darken the holiday mood quite like those twinkly little Christmas lights?

I might as well confess at this point that Noel and I tried to cheat. You see, we know what a stickler Michael is about the tree lights. He likes lots and lots of lights. The lights must all match in color. They must not blink or do any other sorts of tricks. And, most importantly, they must work–each and every tiny one. We tried to cheat, but we momentarily forgot that Michael is a teacher. He can spot cheating a mile away.

Noel had the foresight to check the lights before we put them on the tree. One strand worked perfectly. So far, so good. The second strand worked halfway, as did the third. Well, two halves equal one whole, right? So we devised a plan. We told ourselves we could pull it off. We’d start with the working lights, making sure they were evenly distributed all over the tree. Then we’d just as evenly distribute the working portion of the other two strands…and just sort of cram the non-working parts deep into the branches and hope dear ol’ Dad wouldn’t notice.

Our tree is tall and Noel and I are both short, so it’s at least a two-person job. Try as we might, even on tippie-toe we couldn’t reach the top. At Noel’s bidding, Ryan did his duty as a tall husband without complaint. At last the big moment came. Michael turned his eyes from the computer screen to the tree.

“What’s wrong with the lights?” he demanded immediately. I tried to explain our rationale, and why it would work, why nobody would notice. Since Michael had noticed in about half a second, my argument didn’t carry much weight. “That looks ridiculous!” he continued. Then he zeroed in on the dark, useless little bulbs clumped together. “Look at that!” he exclaimed. “We can’t have that! I have to go to town to get more lights!” Then came one of his favorite phrases. “Life’s too short to live like this!”

“I should have known we couldn’t fool him!” I hissed to Noel.

By the time Michael returned with two brand, new boxes of lights, I was busy basting turkey. So the kids stripped off the old lights and wound the new ones amongst the boughs of fake pine. Then came the ornaments. By the time the partridge was hung on the top branch, the tree was beautiful. And the lights! Ooo. Aaah. We had never before had that many lights on the tree. It was glorious.

One problem. The kids decorated the tree. Before going to bed that first night, the kids unplugged the tree. The next day, the kids left.

So last night I went to plug in the tree and I couldn’t find the end of the light strand to save my life. Who had unplugged the tree the night before? Where had he or she left the plug end of the lights? I finally gave up and we ate our supper in the shadow of the tall, gloomy tree. It was rather ominous.

This evening, by the time I got home from work the living room was already cast in twilight gray. Again, I hunted for the plug, again to no avail. As we munched our roast beef and jello, Michael sighed. “I sure would like to get that tree lit up.” He sounded like a little boy who’d lost his puppy. So after supper I fetched a flashlight and finally located the elusive plug. At last! The beautiful lights were blazing forth once more, and–

The bottom half of the tree was blinking.

“Oh, it’s all right,” I cooed, hoping to defuse the situation. “Am I the only person in this house with a white trash barometer?!” he exclaimed. I walked down the hall. “We can’t have that!” I turned on the computer. “Something has to be done!” I began typing this essay. “I can’t live like this!” I started to chuckle. “What are you laughing at?”

Life’s too short to not enjoy it.



  1. […] responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. 🙂 Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your ownsite. […]

    Pingback by The Boars Head Tavern » Blog Archive » Life at our house — November 28, 2006 @ 2:49 am | Reply

  2. […] Denise blogs about life at our house, where the family takes my mental quirks and creates smiles and laughter for, you, the IM reader. If you would like to buy working Christmas lights for a poor family, just contact me at […]

    Pingback by » Blog Archive » Life At Our House: The Christmas Tree Caper — November 28, 2006 @ 3:16 am | Reply

  3. I howled at this. Blessings.

    Comment by Kyle Potter — November 28, 2006 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  4. Denise, your husband must have been separated at birth from mine!
    It has taken me 6 1/2 years of marriage to convince my husband that colored lights on the tree really don’t lead to Lance crackers and Vienna sausages for Christmas dinner.
    We’re both from North Carolina (could you tell?), and the white trash barometer affects our southern sensibilities quite differently.
    Next year, a luminous Santa train on the roof!
    And a possible divorce…
    Since I love the poor hide-bound man, maybe I’ll just sneak some modern (composed post-1600)Christmas carols onto his iPOD…

    Comment by s.a.farris — November 28, 2006 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  5. LOL This reminded me of my dad (now deceased) and his fixation with Christmas Tree lights when I was growing up. Thanks for the smiles and memories.


    Comment by Meg — November 29, 2006 @ 1:49 am | Reply

  6. I hung it on one of the bottom branches with the thought “O, alas! How easy to locate this cord will be!” It was higher than the floor, leaving it within an easy reach, and it was closer to one’s face so you see it as soon as you bend over… Or so I thought.

    Comment by Clay — November 29, 2006 @ 2:36 am | Reply

  7. Brother Mike would die if he saw Mom and Dad’s tree! Mom let Tyler (6) decorate it because, it is one of his new favorite hobbies. By the time he was finished, the tree was leaning to the left because of the huge cluster of ornaments he hadn’t dispensed and all of the garland was wrapped tightly around the middle of the tree, overlapping the garland he put on the first go-around. He didn’t keep his decorating skills to the tree though. He placed ornaments and figurines all through out the house, each time saying, “That’s perfect” with a grin. Mom thought it was great and hasn’t changed a thing!

    Comment by Rebekah — December 1, 2006 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: