Oh, boy, it’s light season. A quick drive around town at night reveals a lot of people took advantage of the insanely, unseasonably warm weather over the weekend to get some holiday decorating done. It’s a great time of year, and I wish I had been able to put my own lights up. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I was with you all in spirit, just not in the state. I always travel back to my mom’s place to put up what’s become an increasingly larger illuminated spectacle. It seems like every year there’s another element I’m adding to make her front and back yards visible from as far away as possible.
This is about the third year since I replaced all the strings of huge, incandescent, C-9 bulbs with tiny, energy-efficient LEDs. It seemed like a great move, and I was looking forward to strings of lights that would last nearly forever. I say "was" because, unfortunately, it turns out the new LED lights are far from indestructible. I took care to painstakingly wind them on spools and place them carefully in boxes for storage, but it seems the gremlins attacked anyway. One whole string refused to light – it wasn’t the fuses, but apparently an LED was out in each one of the sections. Turns out the high-tech LED lights are just a couple series-parallel loops like newer, old-school lights – one light out doesn’t kill the whole string, but it sure does knock out a section. Rather than hunt for hours for the dead ones, I replaced the whole string. Of course, after I got back from the store with a single string, I realized a section was out on one of the other strings. Not wanting to get back in the car again, I grumbled and set to work going through the string one LED at a time.
Once I finally got the lights in the front all set, I sat back to admire my handiwork. It was then that I realized huge sections of lights were out in the tree in the back yard that I’d spent hours on a ladder placing. The strings were new, so it really aggravated me. I got up on the ladder to investigate whether they’d come unplugged from bird and critter activity only to discover that the wire had been chewed through in five or six different places, and in one case the end of the plug had been completely severed. I was livid, and back off to the store – again – for more lights.
After returning with the lights and standing on the ladder contemplating taking all the old lights down and stringing up the new ones, I decided on a new plan of action: repairing all the chewed-through sections. Kids, don’t try this at home. I’ve had lots of experience working with electricity and wiring, and patching up light strings can be extremely dangerous. Luckily, the repair job took way less time than stringing everything again, as I’d hoped, so I was back in business in no time.
Now it’s time to return to my own lighting duties, likely to occur this weekend. I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t hit any similar snags (though squirrel damage isn’t as likely to be an issue on my front porch). I wish the same to any of you who will be setting out to do the same – and kudos to all you early decorators. You get to just sit back and enjoy the show.