Daddy never put up lights around the house for the holidays. I think it was probably because he knew it took an army to decorate a house for the holidays. And he had three kids.

Likewise, there is no army around these days to turn The House into a Christmas Showplace. Just me and The Bride, who loves her lights. And these lights tend to darken my mood.

Christmas means chores. The Bride directs this chaos, The Dog barks at all of the action, and the neighbors laugh and point.

It starts with the trip to the attic to haul down boxes and boxes of decorations and the dreaded lights. Then there are hours and hours of untangling cords and cords of lights, and checking for burned-out bulbs, which is worse than some mind-twisting puzzle for preteens. Next, The Bride and I lug all of this outside, where the carnage continues.

I fight my way behind the front hedge, lugging three giant wreaths that weigh more than Dasher, Dancer and Prancer to hang over three giant windows. There’s no room for a ladder; besides, it would be too much trouble, and if it crashed through one of the windows, The Bride would not be amused. So I inch my way on the narrow window ledge, a sharp, deadly hedge awaiting below for a slip of my sneakers.

And I await The Bride’s instructions.

“Over to the left.”

“The middle wreath needs to be lower.”

“Lower.” “Still lower.” “Now it’s too low.”

“Move away a bit so I can see.”

“Watch out.” “Are you all right?” “Careful.”


“The bow on the one on the right looks mashed.” “Now it’s facing the wrong way.”


Daddy never hung wreaths on our front windows, either.

Now, it’s time to do the lights. Small, white lights line the front porch, the shrubs, the hedge and back to the windows. Wrapping lights around wrought iron and shrubs isn’t so bad. Unwrapping them in January isn’t any fun, though.

But hanging lights around the windows with a staple gun is far from jolly.

“The lights should be pointed in the same direction.”

Wham! “Watch the wreaths.”

Wham! “You’re doing a good job.”

Wham! “Careful.”

Wham! “Are you all right?”

By now, it’s dusk, so we turn on the lights, hold hands and look at our masterpiece.

“Do you really think those lights are pointed in the same direction?”

So it’s back to work. Wham! “Good job, honey.”

OK, I’ll admit the house looks nice when it’s all said and done. But it’s never said and done. Christmas chores never end, even after the decorations are lugged back up to the attic.

Last spring, The Bride noticed a crop of staples still hanging from the front porch, a January oversight. After I sliced off my hand, pried the errant staple out and threw it away, my mind flashed back to December and those evil, after-Christmas sales.

“I’ve bought six more boxes of lights,” The Bride had said. “Just wait till next year.”

Bah, humbug.