Life 101 – Holiday Decorating

My first memory of Christmas is of electric lights–electric being the key word. I was three years old, tinkering with the lights beneath the bottom branches of a scrawny fir in my grandmother’s living room. In rural South Carolina, trees were plucked from wherever they could be found, and my grandmother typically found hers somewhere along the railroad tracks behind her house.
Each year after the hack job, she’d drag the thirsty thing back up to the house, stick it in a wrought iron stand, and put on the lights. They were big and colorful, and searingly hot. My first Christmas memory is those lights, sticking the prongs of the plug into the outlet beneath the tree… along with my forefinger. The memory is still shocking. Stunningly, staggeringly electric. Think Phyllis Diller hair, and tears that burst forth like rain from an angry could.
I’m an adult now, and I still cry. Like pregnancy and painting, the pain of lighting the lights is forgotten once done, but remembered when trying again. This past weekend, I dangled on a ladder and decorated my house, cursing like a sailor. Now that it’s done, I can pour myself a cocktail and enjoy the holidays.
Hey, are your lights twinkling yet?

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