Saturday, November 27, 2010
Untangling tradition: The Christmas lights
It's the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the taste of pumpkin pie is just a memory.
Instead, I'm sitting cross-legged in our kitchen, trapped within the snake-like confines of Christmas-tree lights, and doing my best not to swear loud enough for the neighbors to hear.
Downstairs, Rudolph is playing on DVD, but I know no one is watching it. They're waiting for me. For mom. Because after mom hangs the lights, then and only then will the ornaments be unwrapped and the real fun begin.
"Give me five more minutes," I call downstairs. I'm fairly certain I hear a collective sigh.
Because everyone knows hanging ornaments is fun. Untangling the lights is not.
As a matter of fact, right now my left arm is numb because it's been trapped far too long within a python-like grip of a tangled light cord that I could have sworn was packed gently and carefully into its own little box last year.
I don't know what happens between now and then. But somehow, amazingly, cords tangle, bulbs burn out - everything changes. I have friends who say it could be spring cleanings and shifting boxes that causes the chaos. Others blame gremlins. Still others like to point the offending finger at well-meaning husbands.
Speaking of which, I do mention casually to mine that when I was growing up, handling the lights was the dad's job. I'm rewarded with a hurt, offended look. "I'm helping," my husband tells me. "I'm here waiting to be yelled at."
I sigh and keep untangling. Forget it. I'm almost there. Just one more strand. See, there's this one knot at the top and if I can just get it loosened ... Give me five more minutes.