When I joined the League of Loveliness, their official membership contract made me swear on a stack of Emily Post books that I would never ever have colored lights on my Christmas tree or paper plates on my table. “Look to the stars in heaven for guidance” said Mrs. George Snickleton, President emeritus.
In 1992, those raised by hippie mothers from the 60’s, added the clause that multi-colored colored lights were permissible when used on secondary trees, like those in the nursery, big game trophy room, pool house or solarium. It was considered whimsical and a tad bit wild.
Not to be completely rigid, members were free to express their personality by selecting from candlelight, warm white, starlight, bright white, flashbulb white, and Moses’ glowing-face-white.
I had my colors “done” and it was determined that I’m a “warm white” kind of girl.
There’s never been a problem until this year, when I needed a few new strands of lights for the tree and allowed my husband to accompany me to Hobby Lobby.
The giant store full of glittery reindeer and doo-hickies we don’t know we need until we see them, is my happy place. While harmonizing with hymns on the loudspeaker, ladies stroll the aisles with dreams of festive homes, but when your husband tags along, it’s a joy-drain.
Doing his best to keep up with me while dodging a million other women with loaded buggies, Bob began to check his watch, tap his toe, roll his eyes, and clear his throat. He launched into the questions. “Why do you need so many?” “Why don’t you get this kind instead?” “Have you considered the cost per hour?” “What’s the wattage?” “How many lights per foot are on that strand?” “What did you do with all the lights from last year?”
The shelves were already 75% empty, and I was trying to reach between three other ladies, while Bob rambled on about the manufacturer’s country of origin.
A bluegrass version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” played over the store speakers.
And then it happened. I accidentally picked up the “U.S. Air Force Landing Strip White Lights”.
“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light . . .”
Back home, in front of my locally grown, freshly cut tree, I decorated using the skills I’d learned from an online workshop sponsored by Auburn University’s College of Engineering / CLD (Christmas Light Division). Their secret is to use a snapping wrist motion, as if tossing toilet paper into perfectly good trees.
Plugging the lights into the outlet, I was blown backwards. I needed cataract surgery. Feeling my way to the door, I crawled into the dark night for healing.
“Mix them with the old lights.” Bob suggested.
“That would be like spreading Dukes on one side of the sandwich and Miracle Whip on the other.” I told him. The untrained eye wouldn’t know what was wrong, but there would be queasiness felt by all who entered.
The house glowed like Las Vegas and neighbors pounded on the door to rescue us from what they assumed was a fire. I applied sunscreen and called the League of Loveliness hotline.
All was well after I undecorated and swapped the lights on the main tree with a tree in the rarely used powder room. Catastrophe avoided.
Until someone opens the door to the powder room.
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”