Tag Archive | Christmas lights

All Lit Up and Ready to Go

If you have been following me for awhile, you know I LOVE outdoor Christmas lights. Since I was a little kid, I found wonder in lighting up the blackness of winter. There was one wealthy family on the north side of Racine who started my fascination with outdoor white lights.  These pictures really don’t do the original display justice, but at least you can see what I’m talking about. Baby boomers enjoyed angels flying in the trees and a beautiful Austrian crystal waterfall captured the imagination. Often our parents had to wait in a long line of traffic to get a quick drive-by look. But we waited with patience because few families could afford ANY outside lights. After Mr. Wheary died, his family gifted these lights to the city and now they are displayed at the Racine Zoo along with other colorful lights.waterfall lights peace on earth

Another family has picked up the mantel to present the community with Christmas lights. They live in a subdivision called Jamestown, and I gotta tell you, this display is something special. It is lit from five to ten o’clock and for five hours you can sit in the car and watch lights synchronized to music which you can access on a radio station. Incredible.

A few years back I started putting lights outside myself. The first year I put them on backwards and had to go purchase a LONG extension cord to get them to work. Live and learn, right? Since then every year my display has gotten a bit more sophistication because I add a few more lights. I have no aspirations to become Mr. Wheary or Mike and Debbie at Jamestown, but the flicker of my small display warms my heart in the same way.

I know a lot of people cringe when Christmas has become so commercialized. But let’s get real. There are actually two Christmas celebrations — one at church and a secular one where we shower gifts on people we love. Some say the true meaning of Christmas is lost because people become a little nuts in December, but I will always have an inclination to tell my friends and family I love them by giving them a gift that is relevant to them.

It’s not how much you spend on a gift; it really is a reflection of your love for that person by buying or making a gift with some thoughtfulness. During the years Ken and I fell into financial dire straights, we went to a park and picked up pine cones to make homemade fire-starters for our friends with fireplaces and napkin holders for those who didn’t.

So now that I’ve rambled on about the day at hand, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday. Just remember the difference between the two.

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Lighting up the Night

I love outdoor Christmas lights. I love looking at them with the bright red, white, green and blue. I love images of Santa and his elves. I also love nativity scenes. As long as a front yard is lit up, I’m in awe.

Since we moved into our house 12 years ago, Ken and I have put out Christmas lights, and I’ve loved all of our decorations. Over the years, my collection of outdoor lights has grown, so now the entire front of the house is covered with lights.

I’m sorry to tell you that my old mechanical reindeer, I affectionately named Rudolph, had to retire to the Goodwill after last year’s appearance in the front yard. He no longer could move his neck from side to side, and he lost his lights on one leg. I replaced him with a five foot angel sporting over 150 white lights. I thought an appropriate place for her was in my father’s memorial garden. The wheelchair ramp, which surrounds the angel, is covered with a lighted pine garland. There is a wreath with a big red bow on the front of the display that ties all of the decorations together.

I’m sorry to tell you that very year when I put lights outside, I have electrical challenges. This year was no exception. In fact, I think it takes an electrical engineering PhD to make things work properly, and needless to say, my English degree doesn’t help.

This year I put the garland on the railing BACKWARD, so I either had to turn the damn thing around or purchase a LONG extension cord to make it to the connection. I also needed a way to plug the new lights into the existing connections, which was impossible.

As the weather turned frigid (20 degrees Fahrenheit) yesterday, I decided to make a trip to buy what I needed. I came away with an 25 ft. extension cord, a new timer (because I couldn’t remember how to work the old one), and a 3-way plug to pull everything together. Feeling confident I had the ingredients to make my lighted winter wonderland come to life, I plugged in everything and waited for dusk for the lights to come on like magic.

As the sun dropped into the horizon, the lights came on! I stood in the living room doing the dance of joy, but wait. There was a problem. All the lights BLINKED, which was not in the plan for my outside design. I stopped dancing and cursed the electrical Gremlins who were out there tinkering with  MY lights! Because of the cold weather, I decided to let the Gremlins have their way, after all, all of the lights were lit.

I went to bed feeling confident that at 11:00 p.m. the lights would turn off and all would be good–that is, until I let Ernie out this morning. The BLINKING lights were still flashing!

I’m totally stumped. I’ve used all my electrical knowledge and came up short, so  I guess I’ll have to go back to Plan A, which requires me to pull out the plug in the morning.

As luck will have it, my friend Scott will be here on Saturday, and he knows his way around electrical connections, so maybe he can shed some light (pun intended) to my solve problem. If not, let the Gremlins be merry!