Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

O! Tannenbaum

So, who does it?
If you put up a Christmas tree in your house, who gets the job of putting the lights on it?
Growing up, it was always my father. Now, it’s mine.
Every year I swear that this is the worst job I’ve ever done on the lights. Ever. Seriously, I think this year I started saying this even before I’d finished getting the first string up. And yet, when it’s all finished, it still looks good, and nobody really notices the things that drove me crazy, how I was constantly finding a blue light right underneath a blue light, no matter how I tried to manipulate it; or that half the lights aren’t actually on any branches, they’re just sort of hanging in mid-air, because there’s only four inches between bulbs and the wires are too thick and inflexible, and putting a bulb here pulls that bulb there off the spot where I’d placed it so carefully and….
Calm. Deep breath.
My Dad was a pretty calm guy. It was my mother who had the explosive temper. Dad did the slow burn. He’d grumble. He’d mutter. He’d get a certain look on his face that was hard to explain, but you knew he was getting steamed. Very rarely did he actually explode, though. But putting up Christmas tree lights, we’d often see that steam. As a kid, I could never understand it, it seemed like a cool job. Now I know better. It’s possibly the most hateful job of Christmas, a time-consuming, frustrating activity that leaves your hands sticky and scratched, smelling of pine, and frustrated, needles in your hair and down your shirt… Yet, in the end, the tree always looks good.
This year, as I worked, I watched a story play out in my head, a story of a little boy, his mother, and his grandpa preparing for Christmas. It was perfect, though unfinished, in my head, and I got a decent start of it in my writer’s group yesterday; now we’ll see if I can finish it for next Christmas, ha ha. Anyway, that’s about all. See you on Friday. And I’ll leave you with music from the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas, which may be my favorite Christmas special ever.

11 Responses

  1. A few years ago I got this killer deal on a prelit tree at Costco. Almost couldn't get the thing in my car. And HEAVY! We used it one year and gave it to my daughter, who had a larger living room with a higher ceiling. We then purchased a smaller tree with fiberoptics. It's lightweight and easy to store. Perfect for the old folks.

  2. The tree is my job, but now my hubs has to help cuz we can only decorate the top half due to toddlers and kitties. I'm not short, but I'm not too tall either, lol.

  3. LOVE Charlie Brown! 🙂

    My hubby generally does the lights, although for the past 2 years, my daughter has done it. My son threatens to just toss them onto the tree and they have to stay where they land! 🙂

  4. Ha, Jemi, that's what I feel like I'm doing at times. We all put ornaments and tinsel on, but the lights are my job alone, and it can get me pretty frustrated. At least I've never gotten to the bottom and realized I put the lights on backwards (i.e., socket at the bottom, as opposed to the plug end. That would be very bad!

  5. I do the lights in my house, too. 🙂 I think that it isn't as frustrating as it used to be before LED came in. I remember every year with the regular bulbs was a lesson in patience as without fail, lights that worked when they were put away the year before suddenly did not work upon the next Christmas tree set up, launching the ever fun game of 'find the light with the broken filament'. LOL. Drove me crazy.

    That's great that a bit of inspiration came your way this year tho! Have a great Christmas!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  6. I love A Charlie Brown Christmas! And as for Christmas tree lights–ugh. I usually end up in charge of the lights and tree decorating. And every year I fantasize about getting one of those fake trees with the lights on. Imagine!

  7. This cracked me up because my fiance is in charge of the lights and he kept putting off doing the tree this year because the lights are such a pain in the arse. Heh heh heh. Hope you have a great holiday!

  8. Thanks, everyone. The tree ended up looking good (it always does, despite how annoyed it makes me). I'm pretty much always happy with the results, but it is a couple of hours of tension, that's for sure.

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