A Parable of Christmas Lights


Each year, my daughter Janelle and I are in charge of putting up the Christmas lights.  We usually do this the day after Thanksgiving…and we will be doing so later on this afternoon.  I just wanted to share something I wrote about it several years back.


My daughter and I put up the Christmas lights yesterday. I look forward to it every year. It’s our project, the passion of two exterior holiday lighting junkies. I love the search for the old boxes where we stored the lights from the season before. It’s almost like a treasure hunt, because we have no real system of storage when we rip them down (and rip them down is apropos, because there is nothing so “over” as Christmas, as my Dad used to say). Usually, we have to rely on help from my wife to find them, who tries to stay out of this process as much as possible. She comes out to the garage, moves a few boxes, and locates them. Of course we take credit for the find, congratulating each other while my wife rolls her eyes.

Then the Jelly Bean and I lug the boxes to the front lawn and open up them up to find the tangled glory of our lights. Relying on a very stale joke from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I make the obligatory command, “A little knot here, I’ll let you work on that.”…while I steal away to find every available (and those I consider to be used superfluously) extension cord in the house.

This is our raid on the redundant. Every year, we are commandos, who wrestle away the sameness of our house, and turn it into something bright and gaudy (and even dangerous because of my propensity for running staples right through the electrical cords).

With ladder in tow, and staple gun in hand, we survey our canvas.

“Did we run those blue ones around the window last time?”

“I’m not sure, but I think the big ones go across the garage.”

“We should really write this down someday.”

But we never will, because then it would be a job, a construction project. Then it would be a routine that held no surprises, no adventure, worst of all, no laughter.

“Which end do we start with?”

“The plug end….I’m sure of it.”

 If we charted it out, numbered our steps and followed them flawlessly, we could do the same thing every year. It hurts just writing a sentence like that.

“Wait a minute…now that they’re all up there…how do I plug this….OH NO…we put the whole string up BACKWARDS!!!” The Jelly Bean is doubled over laughing.

I ask my friend B___, “Do they make an adapter that has a plug at each end?”

“No, people would kill themselves with that.”

 “Can I make one?”

“No, you definitely would kill yourself with that.”

 The Jelly Bean’s laughter has spread to the whole house; it’s infectious. Plans? We don’t need no stinkin’ plans. This is our escape from the order. This is our joy in the journey.

 “We need more extension cords…do you think the boys would miss their T.V.?”


One more thing….I thought this was hilarious!

4 thoughts on “A Parable of Christmas Lights

  1. That is the most touching story. I thank you for sharing with someone who cannot relate…but dreams.

    P.S. ya’ll watch too many movies (wink, wink)

    Peace and Grace (and Lights)

  2. Haha, I love that video. My co-workers and I will go to the apple site just to watch those commercials. What a clever idea to compare the legalistic…whatever he was…to a regular Joe. I like it.

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