Let there be some light


‘Tis the season to hop on Pinterest and check out all the crafts, decor, and recipes I’ve pinned all year despite not having the talent, patience, or desire to actually implement any of the amazing ideas.

Around here, we are embracing the simple this year. I just want some greenery, sparkle, and a festive feeling. Is that too much to ask?

The Friday after Thanksgiving the “boys” (aka Mr. Wonderful and BoyWonder) dutifully set up our artificial tree. This is our second year with this masterpiece of modern technology.

Choosing from leftovers

It was carefully chosen from the three or so left three weeks before Christmas last year when we realized our basement had craftily managed to destroy most of our holiday decor through a leak that left everything damp and fuzzy.

There went our solid, stalwart, 20-year-old tree. That was a pre-felony Martha Stewart brand tree. It was practically a collectible! Needing a new tree, we grabbed this pre-lit tree.

I welcomed the idea of not having to untangle light strands anew each season. I’ve been known in the past to simply throw knotted balls of lights away rather than tackle untangling them.

It just doesn’t seem to make much sense to spend that much time on something I can replace for $3. If you’ve been wondering who is the driving force behind our throwaway society, it’s basically me.

Different era

Meanwhile, my great-grandmother had a set of large-bulb Christmas lights that I believe were purchased sometime after World War II. Those were carefully patched, spliced, and in the early 1990s, handed down to the first great-grandchild to become a homeowner.

At that point, her horrified spouse tossed them for the fire hazard that they surely were. Still, they had a great run.

Fast-forward to this year when we carefully unpacked our almost-new Christmas tree. The boys set it up, carefully clicking each section together. One section would not light.

What is this treason? They twisted the tree. They turned the tree. They jiggled the tree. I’m pretty sure they cursed at the tree. They then walked away, leaving the decorating to Girlwonder and me.


That tree sat naked in our foyer for three days. Finally, Girlwonder, entering the house after a day away, walked in, took two steps, and said, “Hey the tree looks … why is it like that?”

Not exactly the rave review I was seeking. I mean we had all but one section lit. Consider it an art piece kid? Why so critical?

She stopped. She stared. She giggled. She took a quick picture of it. Then she guffawed. What had the tree done to warrant such attention? Through laughing gasps she managed to spit out ,”look at the stack.”

The stack? What? I stopped. I looked at it. I looked past the obvious dark spot in my tree o’ light. Then I started giggling too. By the time Mr. Wonderful wandered in to find out what all the shrieking and laughter was about, we had tears streaming down our faces. We gasped. We pointed. He didn’t get it.

So we had to tell him what should have been obvious but somehow wasn’t.

When the menfolk assembled it, they had stacked the tree out of order. The wider, bottom section, was set in the middle. The narrower, upper section, was at the bottom.

Looking at it, there was a skinny bottom, bulging wider middle, and tapered top.

Odd shape

We had been so focused on the lack of lighting that none of us, four family members and three visitors throughout the weekend, had bothered to take notice of the shape. Our tree had a “spare tire.”

Let me remind us all that the tree had sat like that for “three days.” We moved quickly to rearrange the sections into the proper order, sure that would solve the lighting problem.

We pulled, we snapped, we stacked. We stood back, admired the symmetry, plugged in the plug and … two sections refused to light. Oh Christmas tree indeed.

I finally gave up and strung lights on the two dark sections of the “partially pre-lit” tree. I covered the fix with ribbon and think it looks just fine.

I have lowered my standards for Christmas decor. I have no interest in painstakingly chasing down the burnt bulbs that may be causing the problem.

My great-grandparents kept bulbs going for fifty years. I couldn’t keep ours going for two. They really just don’t make things like they used to.

Although the memories we made with the “upside down tree” certainly light up our lives even if the tree is dark.

Get our Top Stories in Your Inbox

Next step: Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.



We are glad you have chosen to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated according to our comment policy.

Receive emails as this discussion progresses.