Clark Griswold I am not
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]
I’ve always loved lights on houses at Christmastime, but I’ve never really had them on my own dwelling.
Our old house, a 110-year-old, three-story behemoth, would have been picture-perfect strung with lights outlining the steeply-pitched roof. Without a mechanical lift, however, accomplishing that task was literally risking life and limb. It never happened.
So, when we moved I told Darin I wanted lights on the house. Period. I guess the period turned more into a comma because six years later I’m still waiting.
In his defense, the year we first moved to the farm Darin did string lights on the house. I think those were the early LED bulbs or something because they just didn’t glow very brightly at all. We chucked those and, well, back to that comma.
Our house sets atop a big hill, a quarter mile off the main road. Unless we went all Clark Griswold, the lights wouldn’t be visible to passersby anyway. Maybe Clark went a little overboard, but you’ve got to give that guy credit for work ethic and commitment. That house was lit!
We have stone posts and a black fence at the entrance to our property. It would be just beautiful with twinkling lights, a vision that has danced in my head for years. But, of course, there’s no electricity at the bottom of the driveway.
My good friend Emily and her husband placed third in the Light Up Leavenworth house-decorating contest this year. Emily happened to mention she had purchased solar Christmas lights for part of their endeavor. The light bulb went off. I jumped on Amazon the next day and, three days later, solar Christmas lights arrived, just as promised. Hallelujah!
I had just gotten home from an interview when I found the box. I decided surely I had time to put the lights up before I picked the kids up from school. How hard could it be to string lights around a fence, right?
I pulled out the first strand and unwound them. That proved my undoing. How a strand of lights could become so entangled so quickly is beyond me.
Complicating matters was the fact that I had to keep pulling that solar panel through each time I wound the strand around the fence. I’d wind, then I’d shake the strand, then I’d pull, then I’d …. Well, I wasn’t singing Christmas carols, that’s for sure.
Finally, finally, I finished one side. By now, it was way past afternoon pick-up. Sigh. With the kids in after care already, I decided I might as well tackle the other side. I wised up this go-around and didn’t unwind the lights first, deciding I’d just make the solar panel work wherever the strand ended. Boy, did that simplify things.
The next night, we arrived home after dark. I told the kids to get ready for the lights. After a full day of charging, they would be glowing. We were met with total darkness as we pulled into the driveway.
“Well, shoot,” I told them. “I’m glad I didn’t put the other two strands up. Guess they don’t work.”
The next morning, I was griping to Darin about what a rip-off. He asked to see the lights I hadn’t put up yet.
“See,” he said, turning the solar panel over, “here’s a switch. You have to turn it on first.”
He then demonstrated all the different settings: solid, barely flashing, all the way to flashing so fast it’ll give you a headache in five seconds.
All it took was a flip of the switch to move from darkness into the light.
I’d like to think Clark Griswold would be proud.