With the recent snow melt, I’ve been finding Christmas tree light bulbs and bits of electrical cording around the outside of my house. Mostly they are underneath the giant evergreen in my front yard. Oddly enough, these scraps are yet another bittersweet reminder of my old life with Tom.
Every Christmas for many years, Tom and his good friend, who also happens to be tall, would embrace an afternoon of trimming our perfectly shaped evergreen with Christmas lights. They used the large, old-fashioned kind of lights that use a lot of electricity, but they worked well with our old Tudor house. This endeavor required a multitude of extension cords to reach our far-flung electrical outlets. (The electrical fire in the garage from too many extension cords one year is another story.)
It was quite an undertaking but a pure delight for those two. Each year, it became more of a challenge to find a ladder and poles tall enough to start the lights at the top. And it was a bit of a source of irritation for me because every year they had to buy new strings of lights in order to cover all of the rapidly growing tree.
The last year the tree was adorned, it required our son, then a talented high school baseball player, to throw a tennis ball that was attached to a string of lights precisely between a narrow opening of the top-two branches. He made it on the first throw, which clearly became one of Tom’s favorite stories regarding the Christmas tree trimming event.
Roughly five years or so before Tom died, the guys decided the tree was too tall to trim and the tradition ended. Many of the lights were so high up, they could not be removed without a high-low. So they stayed up there. Over time, the squirrels have bit through the cords, resulting in the Christmas light debris that keeps falling to the ground.
A large lighted wreath mounted high on our house was the replacement. Even this required the efforts of both of the guys. Another inventive set up was required using wire threaded through a small hole in the upstairs window in order to lift the wreath from the ground to its high perch. I kept this configuration going for the year after Tom’s death with the help of his buddy.
But the next year I simplified the Yuletide display. I put those same lights on a small tree — one I can easily reach right under the front window. Given my new lifestyle, I know Tom would approve.