Christmas Tree. Oh, Christmass Tree...
...Your lights are so unnerving.
Yesterday marked our annual family ritual known as, The Untangling of the Lights. Like millions of men and women across the western world we peered into a cardboard box containing the head of Medusa and proceeded to test and troubleshoot last year's Christmas lights. Let me tell you something -- I built a working Heathkit radio when I was 13. In high school, I installed the tape players in my friends' cars in return for rides and contraband. I've wired houses. Yet. It remains a mystery to me how a string of lights works.
I always buy the strings that say, "Keeps on working when one bulb burns out." This is not true. Entire random stretches of bulbs stop working for no apparent reason. You can change the fuse-so-small-you-can-lose-it-under-your-fingernail buried in the plug to no effect. Or, you can do what I do: Work your way methodically along the unlit bulbs to find the culprit. Wiggle the first bulb - nothing. Put a replacement bulb in it's place - nothing. Put the original bulb back in the socket and repeat on the next bulb. Do this six or eight times, then using both hands in a rapid circular motion, wrap up the entire string, slam dunk it in the trash can and go to the hardware store for another set.
There you will find a ragtag assembly of adults with the hollow eyes of The Thousand Light Stare scanning boxes for the holiday promise, "Keeps on working when one bulb burns out." And in a true miracle of the season, we believe it. Again. Like kids who find their Christmas gifts under a tarp in the basement on December 17th and still insist that Santa Claus is coming to town.