I don’t entwine anymore

By TIM BEELAND,

You see, or hear, all sorts of warnings around this time of year. Things like don’t plug extension cords into space heaters or vice versa. Same with overloading circuits with Christmas tree lights and outside decorations and the like. Fire hazard they say.
Some of them, I think, we’ve heard and read so many times that they mean nothing to us anymore. For example, while illuminating the house(s) for the holidays, we were unfurling the lights and extension cords over the weekend. I’ve got this pet peeve about all those little warning labels that are taped around the plugs. I don’t even know what they say, but my gosh does a little bitty strand of lights really have three warning labels attached to the cord in addition to those on the box?
I suppose it’s a liability thing but those cheap lights usually burn out before they’ve had time to burn up anyway. But still, take heed of the warnings before trying to pry all those little things off and unwinding all that twist tie stuff that had them bundled so neatly. They are bound to be there for a reason.
Personally, I wish we could just buy the stuff — lights that is — by the foot and attach our own little plugs on the ends. And, I don’t want any fuses either. Then I could stretch them as far as I like and have it all hooked up to one cord...and probably burn my house(s) down. Oh, that’s what the warnings are for!
So far this year no breakers have been thrown at the Beeland house(s) other than those at the other end of too many women’s hair styling devices running at the same time. Surprisingly there were very few lights that didn’t come back on this year either.
I’m certain the throwing of the breakers, or the burning out of the bulbs, will come at some point as they always do. More likely than not just before guests arrive for dinner or a get-together. That seems to be the best time for that sort of thing to happen.
I think I’ve told this story before, but I remember one year when we lived up in North Central Mississippi, we had this gigantic Christmas tree in the main hallway of our big old house. The house was a hundred years old and the hallway, at 40 feet long and 10 feet wide, was more of a room than a hall. The walls were beaded board made from beautiful, antique heart of pine. They actually glowed.
Anyway, this one year the Christmas tree was at the end of that hall room and it had thousands of tiny white lights meticulously entwined in its towering branches. It was really pretty and when you flung open the front door in the evening the whole place sparkled.
To an outsider it might have looked more like a UFO had landed in the back of our hallway, but to us it was beautiful, and warm, and welcoming. It was the essence of the holidays.
That tree looked so good that year that we entered it into our town’s decorating contest. We had admired it over and over again and told ourselves how gorgeous it was right up till the day of the contest. If memory serves me correctly the judging was to begin about 5:30 on a particular afternoon and I took off a few minutes early to be able to greet the group of judges when they arrived at our house.
My wife, Danny, was already there when I got home and she had everything lit up and sparkling and when I burst through the front door about 15 minutes ahead of the judges there sat my magnificent spectacle of a tree, part on, and part off. And it was the top part, some 12 feet up in the air, that wasn’t aglowing no more.
Keep in mind that those lights had not just been “put” on that tree they had been “entwined” in and around every tiny branch. It had taken me hours to get it just right, and probably took a couple of quarts of Egg Nog as well!
In the end we grabbed a few strands of extra lights, snipped all those warning labels off, climbed up on a step ladder and just sort of flung them upward and inward. Then we answered the door and welcomed the judges to our home.
They gazed at the tree and made a few notes here and there and then headed out on their merry way. No one knew there had ever been a problem.
And we didn’t win anything anyway. I suppose it’s kind of like having a really ugly baby. They are still beautiful in the eyes of the mommas and the daddies.
P.S. I don’t entwine anymore.

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