Every year when I was little, my brother, my father and I would repeat the same holiday ritual.
Thanksgiving would pass and we would scamper up into the attic to retrieve my mother’s Christmas decorations, which were stored in approximately 4,179 boxes, all of which were barely held together by strips of dried out mailing tape.
Having always lived in Florida, sometimes this festivity would be performed in a 100-plus degree crawl space, which only amplified the holiday cheer. With sweat rolling down the lines of our smiles, we’d listen to my mother, donning her finest “I’d rather be caroling” sweater, scream at us through the windows about how, like animals, we were putting Outside Boxes inside, and vice versa.
We loved that part the most. It was the Santa at the end of our own personal Macy’s Day Parade, ushering in the season.
It just wasn’t Christmas without it.
The last box we brought down was always the lights — which we stored in the attic the year prior purely for laughs. We knew the bulbs would never work again, but we didn’t hold it against them. It wasn’t like we hadn’t read the back of the box:
At O Holy Lightz, Inc., we know that half the fun of Christmas is setting your home aglow with lights; then taking down all of your lights when they stop working the next day; then climbing back up on the roof to hang all new lights; then crossing your fingers until New Year’s. That’s why this holiday season, we’ve constructed our bulbs with 20X the unreliability, and we’re offering them to you at NO extra charge!
Maybe this strand will work, maybe it won’t; maybe just a section will work. Finding out is half the fun! And who knows, you just might be one of the lucky few to purchase one of our secret “Christmas Miracle” editions, which we’ve rigged for just five icicle lines to go rogue on exactly Christmas day and start blinking.
For my family, putting on our Sunday best and venturing out for replacement lights was always a tradition we looked forward to. Afterward, we’d make hot cocoa to burn our tongues with. Then we’d listen to “Last Christmas” by Wham!, because it just wasn’t the lord and savior’s birthday in our home without a little George Michael and British melancholia.
After we finally got everything looking nice and Christmasy, it was time for the tree. I’d inhale the branches and excitedly hang artisan decorations I’d crafted back in preschool. Then, barely a day later, I’d come down with a raging case of strep throat and a nose so clogged they made me play Rudolph every year in the school play.
It wasn’t until I was about 10 my parents realized I was allergic to pine.
“Oh,” my dad said, hanging a few of his old socks by the chimney with care. “Well, now since you’re feeling better, do me a favor and go climb up on the roof, will ya? Looks like the lights are out again.”
BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR