Let’s just get this out of the way—I am grumpy. It’s only the second day of December and I am already sick of snow. I’ve had three days of the last ten when the roads were so bad I couldn’t get home to the ranch from work. I had to stay in town with relatives, which isn’t horrible considering they feed me dinner, give me WiFi and start my car so it’s warm when I leave for work in the morning, but it’s still not home. I only got to sleep in my own bed last night because my husband met me at the end of our three mile driveway with the tractor and broke a trail. Then the wind howled all night, so he had to dig me back out again this morning. And there’s more snow in the forecast tomorrow.
I am not loving winter.
It’s probably not surprising that I’ve got my Grinch on when it comes to Christmas, too. Toss in the fact that my parents will be in Kentucky with my soon-to-be-deployed brother, which means my sisters won’t be coming home so it’ll just be me and my boys, and I’m having a hard time getting motivated about the whole holiday thing.
But still…I have this kid. He’s five. And he has never decorated a Christmas tree. Up until this year, he wasn’t interested. I’m hoping that has changed, because we have acquired a snowmobile and I intend to use it to haul his little behind up onto some windblown hillside to whack down a lopsided, butt-ugly tree to drag home and teach him how to throw tinsel. Except I heard a nasty rumor that they don’t make tinsel anymore—can this be true?—so we might have to settle for silly string or something.
My mother loves Christmas. We have an entire granary full of wicker reindeer and plywood gingerbread men and cartons and cartons of lights, all of which she will want to use to turn our yard into a winter wonderland. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except it’s already three feet deep in frigging winter.
In case you live in a climate as lovely as mine, or if you somehow lose your sanity and decide to move to one, here are a few helpful hints on putting up those outdoor Christmas lights.
1. Decorate after Halloween. As tempting as it may be to leave the stupid things up year round, those puny wires were not designed to withstand wind speeds above eighty miles per hour, which will happen at least once every spring and every fall, and then your eaves will look like they’re sprouting a bunch of old lady chin hairs and you will have to buy all new lights and put them up anyway.
2. Do not attempt to string lights on a day when the wind speed is above thirty miles per hour. Those pointy little bulbs hurt like the devil when they swat you in the face, and then you’ll be back at the store buying replacements for the ones you stomped on in revenge.
3. Decorate before it snows. Since you’re waiting for a calm day after Halloween, that leaves one Wednesday in early November. Better hope you’re not working late. And that winter doesn’t decide to come early.
4. Do not attempt to nail up strings of lights when the temperature is below zero. Those cheesy little plastic wires will snap right in two. But if you absolutely must clamber up onto an icy roof in subzero windchills to spell out Hapy Holidays in blinky red lights (and no, you won’t spot the typo until the jerk neighbor points it out) be sure to observe the most important rule of all…
5. Don’ pud da esstra nails in yo’ mouf.
Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real