Nothing says “Peace on Earth” like a giant flashing electronic sign from Target that says “Peace on Earth.” Or an inflatable Santa in a popcorn popper. Or the ghostly illuminated outlines of caribou grazing on your dead lawn.
Such is the state of Christmas decorations these days, as New Hampshire homeowners are no longer satisfied with outlining the straight edges of their homes with twinkle lights so their gambrels resemble the Golden Nugget Casino.
Nowadays, they must also adorn their property with animatronic blow-up characters so it looks like the Fantasmic Parade at Tokyo Disneyland.
I suppose the art of hanging Christmas lights has lost its importance, especially in my overachieving Nashua neighborhood, where it feels like a communal obligation.
My yearly routine begins right after the Thanksgiving tryptophan has left my system. I grab my Rubbermaid© box filled with strings of 1000bulbs.com© icicle lights and my Arrow© T50 staple gun. (The staple gun has been in the same place for the past 12 months: on top of the box.) I feel pressure to perform, because my neighbor has already beat me by covering his home with an attractive electronic net used for capturing Beluga© whales at night.
Each of my six strings gets secured with a staple at roughly the same point as the year before. I know this because clusters of twin holes scar my siding at roughly equal intervals, making my house appear as if it’s been attacked by miniature vampires. By now there are so many little punctures that I contemplate how many more years until this systematic decay will force my family to abandon this home altogether.
I now use a device that allows me to hang my gutter lights using plastic clips and a telescopic pole (insert your own joke here.) I’ve learned that this same device can be used for forcibly removing large sections of my gutter, which comes in handy when it’s time to clean out those pesky plastic clips in the spring.
I spend hours neatly arranging lights in lines so straight, they look like the west runway at MHT. When I at last arrive at the outlet, I notice the string I’m holding terminates with a receptacle instead of a plug. This is what some would term a female-to-female connection, which isn’t going to work in this scenario. The obvious solution is to remove all the lights and reverse their path. Instead, I grab a pair of Gingher© brand scissors, cut off both ends and reattach them with 3M© electrical tape. I guess it’s true what they say about AC/DC electrical current: it does go both ways.
Upon charging my display I can see that one small section of lights remains dark, and like a detective from the North Pole vice squad, I’m on the case.
Upon closer inspection I find one bulb that’s broken, frayed by too close a pinch from the staple gun. Easy fix! But my proximity to the defect causes something to happen and a spark of electricity leaps from the exposed wire and pops me in my bottom lip, as if it were a bolt on Frankenstein’s neck. I utter three or four synonyms for the Baby Jesus (complete with middle initials and action phrases) and feel the hair on my arms stick up.
There! Job done! My house is Christmas-ready, at the low, low cost of 7,000 staples, a yard of electrical tape and one bottom lip. On second thought, for $14.99 I could put an Airblown© Inflatable Snowman on my lawn and be done with it.
Kevin Flynn is an award-winning radio and television reporter. He does not hold a degree in electrical engineering.