A check outside on Saturday morning reveals a clear blue sky and touch of early frost.
After a few dark, dreary days, the sunshine is welcome and inviting. It seems a shame to stay inside so, after a hearty breakfast and a second cup of coffee, I get a sudden urge to put up my Christmas lights.
Usually, I procrastinate until I have to endure cold rain running down my sleeves as I cling to the slippery aluminum ladder. Today I won’t have to battle the rain and I am buoyed by the fact that last year I bought a plastic tote, coiled the string of lights in neatly and marked the lid, “Outside Lights,” before tucking them away.
Unexpectedly, I find myself humming Christmas carols as I step outside into the crisp morning air. That is unusual, as the Christmas spirit usually eludes me until I’m finished looking after everyone else.
Christmas spirit affects everyone in a different way.
Some start the day after Halloween, others stay in Grinch mode right up until the wrapping paper starts coming off the presents Christmas morning. Others just slowly let themselves get swept up in the lights the colour and the music, and finally give in.
I drag the bin out of the shed and start taking the lights out. Some bulbs are twisted around others and the wires are caught up in the little plastic thingies that hold them onto the eavestrough. In 30 seconds I have a big tangled mess.
I spread them across the lawn and plug them in, to replace any burned-out bulbs.
I step back and hear a crunch as I crush a bulb with my heel. With the grace of a ballet dancer I spin, lose my balance and step on another one.
Everyone who has faced this will unplug the lights and try to twist the broken bulb out before getting the needle nose pliers. Now I need a Band-Aid.
As I walk up the stairs my fingers are cold and I am no longer humming Christmas carols.
I make another cup of coffee and cradle my throbbing fingers around the cup. Instantly I recall winter days on my paper route with cold hands on the handlebars or changing tires on a semi on the freeway in a snow storm. I remember now why I don’t enjoy winter.
I look out the window at the string of lights, coiled on the lawn ready to strike again like some colourful, venomous serpent.
The little voice inside tells me I have to finish the job. The little voice sounds a lot like my Dad.
The exterior illumination scene from the movie Christmas Vacation strikes a chord in every man’s heart. When Clark Griswold’s lights come on, it is man’s triumph over technology, and we all cheer.
After waiting for my circulation to return and the sun to come out from behind the trees, I get the lights on the house.
I haven’t turned them on yet, I’ll wait for the perfect day closer to Christmas, put on a Mel Tormé Christmas CD, and with a hot chocolate and a piece of my Mom’s short bread in hand, I’ll have my own personal lighting ceremony.
Christmas Spirit is a lot like the flu. You can try to avoid it but once it gets a hold on you, you have to let it run its course.
At least that’s what McGregor says.