Climbing into our plum tree, once again, I found myself wondering if there was a premium for getting things done "on time." This year's holiday light spectacular began the Monday before Thanksgiving, as my son and I found ourselves with an hour to kill before we picked mom up from the movies. We pulled into the Ace Hardware parking lot, and assured each other that we could just as soon leave empty-handed. But since we were there, why not take the opportunity to peruse the selection of ornamental lighting before we pushed on into the next task.
It has been several years since my son has been around to support this habit of mine. Most recently he has been mired in the world of retail, on call for that most dubious of tortures: Black Friday. Traditionally, this has been the day when the ladder and that big tub containing string after string of dangling bulbs appears. This is an exercise in which the wheat, those lights that still light, are separated from the chaff, those that have outlived their usefulness. Then all we have to do is arrange them in a carefully managed sprawl across the front yard. The new purchases are used to fill in the gaps left by the features that no longer hold a charge. I felt fortunate to have my son along for this year's mounting, but I knew that his eventual return to his real job would mean that I would have to reschedule.
And then there was the rain.
After months that had been dry as a bone, suddenly we were in the midst of the first storm of the winter. So we had to move quickly and decisively. The new elements, one hundred thirty-four feet of solar powered illumination found its place abruptly. The two additional strands of more traditional teardrop bulbs went into the tree. The tree in which I found myself when I found myself wondering about the premium for getting things done "on time." I am a firm believer that anyone who still has their Christmas lights up by the second week of January has surrendered. Given up. It's just another ten months or so before they have to go back up again, so what's the point?
On the other end, I have maintained this notion harbored by my older brother as a continuation of my father's insistence that the opening salvo of Christmas decoration should erupt on that day after Thanksgiving. As leftovers are being heated up and the local malls brace for the onslaught, stringing lights provides a pleasant counterpoint.
But doesn't Thanksgiving move around a lot? Sometimes a week closer. Sometimes a week further away. What is on time?
As the skies began to darken overhead and the rain began to fall, I pulled the tools and debris out of the elements and waited for night to come. The lights would be ready. On time.
More or less.