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Happy Christmas Decorating!

picture of Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree

Do you usually go all out with Christmas decorations, or is your decorating as sparse as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree? I ask because our fairly minimal decorating is still fresh in my mind from this past weekend. Our cats are delighted to be able to lie again under the artificial tree. (And they say cats are finicky....)

With the tight economy, some people want to cut back on their Christmas lights. If you have a neighbor who has gone wild with his outdoor decorating, you can save money by decorating in the way the folks in the house on the right did in the picture below.

picture of dittos from the neighbor

As we decorated the tree this weekend, we were frustrated early on. After Christmas last year we bought some strings of lights on sale to replace the string of lights that had died "in action" midseason and that we thought would probably be dead by this year. However we discovered that the new lights had white wires instead of green and stuck out like sore thumbs when we tried them out on the tree. Grr! This necessitated a hasty trip to the store so that decorating could continue. I think we are now done for this year. Phew!

Some counselors claim that hanging lights on a Christmas tree is one of the three most stressful situations in relationships. The other two danger zones are teaching your mate to drive and wallpapering together. With that in mind I present the following to you:

What Not to Say when Hanging Lights on the Christmas Tree...

"Hellooo!!! You've got two red lights right next to each other. You're supposed to go yellow, green, red, blue, not yellow, red, red, green, blue...."

"I don't care if you have found two more strings — I'm done!"

"Up a little higher. You can reach it. Go on, try."

"What do you do to these lights when you put them away every year? Tie them in knots?"

"If you're not going to do it right, don't do it at all! Don't just throw them on, like you do the icicles. Good grief! You're worse than your father."

"Here! Give me that!"

"You've just wound 'em around and around — I thought we agreed it shouldn't look like a spiral this year."

"You've got the whole thing on the tree upside down. The electric plug thingie should be down here at the bottom, not up at the top."

"Looks like we're finally done. Not too shabby, huh? Hey, wait a minute ... where's the cat?"


This past week I received an e-mail that was crying out to be shared ASAP. Here it is:

Well, there is good news and bad news about my Christmas decorations. The good news is that I truly outdid myself this year. The bad news is that I had to take them down after only two days.

I had more people than ever come screaming up to my house. Great stories.

picture of Christmas decorating prank

Two things made me take it all down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents since they almost had a wreck when they drove by. Second, a 65-year-old lady grabbed the ladder and almost killed herself putting it against my house. She didn’t realize the "decoration" was fake until she climbed to the top. (She was not happy.) She was one of many people who attempted to do that.

My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard. I think I made him too real this time. But it was fun while it lasted! 😀

I can hardly believe that this week is the last week of classes for the semester. Next week we have final exams, then our Christmas break begins. I'm understanding more and more the metaphor in James 4:14 about our life being a vapor.

I hope some of you have some great decorating (mis)adventures or tips to share with us. Will you be decorating differently this year?


"We are all at crossroads all the time." - Eric Newton

=^..^= =^..^=

Due to financial constraints, the light at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished.

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13 Comments on “Happy Christmas Decorating!”

  1. #1 Vikki
    on Dec 7th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    I have to give that guy credit for his unique outdoor decoration, but I can see why it would have to come down. It sure looks like a real person hanging from the eves in the picture!

    I LOVE Christmas decorations and go all out with them. My husband counted up the number of trees I have in the house and outside and it came to 9 (and he didn’t include any smaller than a foot tall). We have a 6 foot one in our formal living room, a 7 foot one in the family room, three of those tall skinny trees with white lights and red bows in our foyer, 2 on either side of our front door outside, a 18″ lighted tree that stands behind a snowman on my hearth and a brass one with various ornaments hanging from it on the other side of the hearth. The only rooms I don’t decorate are the bed rooms, office and laundry room. I even have decorations up in my office, including a 3 foot tree with lights and ornaments. I start putting them up the weekend or two before Thanksgiving and usually finish on Thanksgiving weekend or the following weekend. I’ve never counted up the number of boxes it takes to store them, but it must be close to 15-20 not including the bags the trees are stored in.

    We live in the Silver Leaf subdivision here in the Greenville area and pretty much the whole subdivision of over 300 houses decorate outside. On Christmas Eve, many line their properties with luminaries (paper bags with an inch of sand and lit votive candles) purchased through the neighborhood swim team. From dusk to sometime around 8 or 9 pm there is a steady stream of cars driving through the subdivision with their headlights off looking at the houses. A few go over the top, but most are just really tastefully decorated. For a number of years, one house had a manger scene on one side of the yard and the ascension on the other. It was gone last year, so I assume they’ve moved.

    May your Christmas be bright and all your light strings light . . .

  2. #2 Kathleen
    on Dec 7th, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    We put our decorations up right after Thanksgiving, and had a major catastrophe right away. For years we have had an extra-long string of lights that goes up in the conservatory, and it has had a short in the second half of the string for a long time. This year, we plugged it in, and only the first half worked. This necessitated an emergency trip to the store, but we were able to find a string nearly as long, that makes an adequate replacement.

    The biggest pain in our decorations is try to make my siblings (especially brothers!) stick to the job and get it done. The computer is so much more attractive… 🙂

  3. #3 Michael
    on Dec 7th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Awesome e-mail with the picture. I can see why there were lots of tire tracks.

    I believe my wife and I have a good relationship with decorating. I get the tree and all the decorations down from the attic and then my wife puts them up. As for decorating the outside of the house, I do most of it, but I follow my wife’s instructions.

    And, I almost had the sign of a great picture for you but wasn’t able to take it. I was out Saturday evening and drove past a “Babies ‘R Us” store except that the light for the “i” was out. Hilarious.

  4. #4 Lynnette Jones
    on Dec 7th, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Charlie Brown’s Christmas is the theme for this year’s College and Career party at my church.

  5. #5 Carrie
    on Dec 7th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    The stranded guy is funny in a picture on your blog, but I think it might be heart attack-inducing in real life! Yikes! He does look real.

    Since we moved up here in our minivan, our decorations are very simple. Steven designed a Lego nativity, so we have that up. He had so much fun finding crowns, staffs, sheep, etc. Also, last year and this he has made a Christmas tree using scrapbook papers. This year’s is 3-D and the kids cut out ornaments from shiny paper. He also made an angel from fancy gold paper. It’s pretty! And after Christmas, we just toss it in the trash.

    We do more when we have all of our “stuff,” but this is nice too.

    .-= Carrie’s most recent blog post … Keep a Quiet Heart =-.

  6. #6 Rob
    on Dec 7th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    @Vikki – Wow! Our decorations really are minimal! If you enjoy Christmas decorations, go for it! 🙂 Most people in our subdivision decorate to some extent — some a lot, and some not at all. Except for the tree in our one back window, all you can see from the outside of our house is the single candle in each window.

    @Kathleen – I’m glad you were able to find a replacement for such a long string of lights. That can’t have been easy to locate.

    @Michael – You and your wife sound about like us. Besides pulling the stuff down from the attic, my part in the process is putting the artificial tree together. After Becka gets it looking all plumped up again after being smashed in the box all year, I put on the lights and the strings of shiny beads. Becka does the rest while I secure the candles in the various windows.

    Is there any way you could get a picture of the Babes ‘R Us sign before they fix the “i”? 😀

    @Lynnette – What all did you do with the Charlie Brown’s Christmas theme? Sounds like it could be a lot of fun.

    @Carrie – That dummy really does look real, doesn’t it?! I know that my reaction would also be to try to help the poor guy.

    It sounds as if your family has figured out how to create a cozy Christmas feel without buying another whole set of stuff during your stint in Alaska. When I was a child my sister and I used to love making construction paper chains and stringing popcorn. Do any of you remember aluminum Christmas trees with rotating color wheels? We had one of those for a few years in the 60’s — such a bizarre thing really. How did they every catch on? It’s easy to see why they quickly faded from the Christmas landscape. 🙂

  7. #7 Vikki
    on Dec 8th, 2009 at 8:34 am

    My grandparents had a silver tree for a number of years that had that large, rotating color wheel that shone on it. They decorated it with all red ornaments. I, as a young kid, thought it was neat. What I loved when I was little was the large, heavily flocked white pine trees that were popular. There was a house near us that always had a full size light pink one in their bay window each Christmas and I thought it was the most beautiful Christmas tree in the world.

  8. #8 Laura
    on Dec 8th, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Once upon a time, we had real trees, but allergies were a problem . . . then we took turns decorating a 7.5 foot artificial one. Finally, we realized that a tabletop tree (3 feet) fit better in our little home and in our perspectives of the season. We really wanted to focus more on the REAL reason for the season; the manger scene in the living room has a better chance to “compete” visually with a small tree. The kids have fun putting up additional decorations, though. They drape tinsel garland and hang handmade stockings over the [unused] fireplace in the kitchen, and also drape garland and lights over the bookcases in the living room, where we tape up the Christmas cards from friends & family.

    The best part of keeping things small is that setup and cleanup are simplified . . . we just unplug the tree, pull a garbage bag over the top (ornaments & all), and put it in the attic until next year. No need to undecorate/disassemble/squish/reassemble/redecorate.

    I always enjoy other people’s decorations (Silver Leaf sounds like a great place to visit this year . . . I’ll have to get directions!), but I’d have a really hard time dedicating so much time/effort/expense to going all out myself.

  9. #9 Bill
    on Dec 8th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Early on in our marriage I learned that Christmas decorating is the wife’s responsibility. As much as I wanted to help make the season “merry and bright”, I could not do it “correctly”. I, like Michael, have relegated myself to pulling the boxes of decorations into the house, making sure that there is music of the season playing in the background, and hauling the empty boxes to storage until the season is over … which leads to another question. Why doesn’t all that stuff fit back into the same boxes that it was in originally?

  10. #10 Bill
    on Dec 8th, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    The “vapor” idea, I’ve been told, is because the older we get, the smaller the percentage of our lives each unit of time is! That’s why time “flies” faster now!

    Have a great Christmas!

  11. #11 b.j.
    on Dec 9th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Comment to Bill: the stuff never fits back into the box, because the wife finds irresistible deals on really cute Christmas stuff to add here and there to the decorations each year. It is just quietly added to the decorations, the husband never notices, but can’t quite fit it all back into the boxes. Of course, I would know nothing of this. I’m completely innocent… 😀

    In regards to the man hanging from the roof, part of me thinks “how horrible! People really want to help, but to have such a trick played on them.” But the rest of me wins out, laughing hysterically, wondering why I didn’t think of that! Maybe next year have a sleigh and reindeer on the roof, and Santa hanging from the eaves. Then, only the kids hearts would skip a beat. 🙂

  12. #12 Rob
    on Dec 10th, 2009 at 7:45 am

    @Vikki – As kids, my sister and I loved to lie on the floor and watch the colors change on that silver tree. Ours had little red balls at the ends of the branches. As much as I liked it then, I was glad when our family went back to green Christmas trees.

    @Laura – I like your views about Christmas decorating — the emphasis where it should be, but also balanced. We have a nativity scene on top of our entertainment center. We bought it as a kit many years ago, and it was my task to assemble the stable and to paint the figurines. Every day the figures would move to different positions. Joseph, Mary, and the donkey would get closer and closer to the stable each day. On Christmas Eve they arrived at the stable. After that other figures began to appear in fairly rapid succession — the baby Jesus, the angels, the shepherds, the star, and finally the wisemen. Our kids loved it and caught on pretty soon. For years now we have had to guard Mary because she keeps getting hijacked, ending up in a package or a stocking. I won’t tell you which of our kids is the culprit…. Here’s a picture of some of our nativity scene:

    picture of nativity

    @Bill and Bill – Wise observations. 🙂

    @b.j. – Thanks for helping us guys understand that phenomenon. I share your mixed reactions to the hanging dummy. I would want help if I were in that position. But then, I refuse to get into that position. 😀

  13. #13 Laura
    on Dec 10th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Re: Alternative Roof Decorations . . .

    Our kids thought that it would be cool if we could have a reindeer on the roof with a hunter in camo taking aim . . . but they have a hunting friend in the neighborhood who keeps everyone supplied with venison. Let me clarify … we DON’T have reindeer on the roof. They just thought it would be an interesting variation on the picture above.

    It’s probably good we live on a dead-end street. I can’t imagine the horror of non-hunting kids if they passed by . . .