A Loco Viewpoint

Christmas Light Envy

“Get in the car!” Cupcake hollered, sounding like that woman in the Ikea commercial. I tried to look like I was hurrying without actually going faster. I’ve found whenever Cupcake is anxious for me to accompany her in the car so she can show me something; it usually entails one of three things. She has found something she wants me to buy, build or do way better and I should learn from that person. This one was all three, but I didn’t know it yet.

“Oh wait ‘til you see it!” she enthused. “It is absolutely beautiful!”

My heart sank like a dollar store air mattress. The more beautiful something is, the more money and/or work it is to recreate. We didn’t have to go far to see the object of her desires. It was a house nearby which had just put Christmas decorations up and did such a great job, it made me physically ill.

“Oh, hon, just look at those perfectly straight lines with the bulbs all pointing in the same direction!” she gushed in the throes of Christmas light envy. “It looks so much nicer than the approach some people use.”

She curled her lip at the thought and I fully expected her to spit just then, to underline her antipathy for certain people’s lighting methods.

“You mean like how I put them up?” I asked pointedly.

“Well, I wasn’t going to use this as an opportunity to lecture you on putting up lights, but since you brought it up....”

She immediately launched a diatribe about the crucial importance of keeping wires taut and using lots of staples. I drifted off, wondering what would possess a guy to have his Christmas lights blaring in the middle of November. Not just lights, but he also had four giant inflatable decorations, putting him right at the border of tackiness without quite crossing the line. A couple more and he’d be featured in an episode of Hoarders.

“...and if the wire is curled or kinked you have to straighten it carefully before putting it up to ensure it lays properly flat against the wood as you’re stapling to create that lovely, professional look, which is the goal here since haphazardly applied Christmas lights tend to look like....” orated Cupcake with a full head of steam. I’m astounded she can talk without appearing to breathe. I assume she has a blow-hole apparatus in her skull that allows her to inhale without having to stop talking.

As she continued with the finer points of decoration installation in excruciatingly minute detail, I began wondering why retailers move the yardsticks, with Christmas merchandising coming earlier every year. It’s only recently Halloween and Christmas stuff had to compete for shelf space. I will admit putting scary masks on the Santa decorations was a hoot. Still, back in the day, retailers didn’t start paying attention to Christmas until December. Everybody still got presents. It wasn’t like there wasn’t enough shopping time. Christmas doesn’t exactly creep up on you, after all. The signs are everywhere; Cupcake’s wondrous Christmas yard, for instance, not to mention the Friday Journal being so bloated with flyers, it weighed more than the paperboy.

“Are you listening to me?” Cupcake barked suddenly. I must have stopped smiling and nodding.

“Sure I was,” I lied heartily. “You were saying how to keep the wire flat against the wood and… stuff.”

“That was almost ten minutes ago when I covered that material!” she moaned. “I will have to go over proper colour choices again...”

I tried to listen, I really did. Unfortunately, Cupcake has a way of injecting many words into a smattering of salient points. It’s like a ‘filibuster’ mode and certain topics trip the switch that starts it. Christmas lights is just one trigger subject, plus people who don’t seatbelt their kids and ways I can be a better husband.

As a result, I mentally wandered off again to consider retailers sneaking Christmas stuff onto their merchandise displays in October. Do people buy more presents if they have longer to do it? If they left the Christmassy-themed everything up all year, would there be a mother lode of presents under the tree? Somehow I doubt it.

One downside of the season invading stores earlier is that we’ll get sick of Christmas carols by Christmas Day even more than we do now. This is because there are far more performers singing Christmas songs than there are Christmas songs; which only number ten or so. The closer to Christmas we get, the more ubiquitous the ten songs of the season become until they are inescapable and as annoying to listen to as gangsta rap. We even start to hate Bing Crosby.

“You know, hon,” I interrupted her speech, “if you know so much about how to put these lights up so perfectly, why don’t you do it? It sounds like you have the theory down pat.”

“What? Me?” she snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous. It is way too hard on my hands to use that tacker and you know I’m afraid of heights. Plus it hurts my shoulders to work over my head like that. Besides, it’s the man’s job.”

I came this close to using the words ‘women’s job’ but remembered at the last second that was another lecture trigger phrase for Cupcake.

“I will do my best dear,” I said. “but not until it’s closer to Christmas. It’s only half-past November.”

“Yes, good idea,” she smirked. “Wait until it’s minus 40 and blizzarding out like you usually do. Then your hands get cold and we end up with a display that looks like you just threw up the lights…with an accent on ‘threw up’. I won’t tolerate droopy wires!”

I wish she’d stop keeping her opinions so secret.

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