November is always a busy month with Thanksgiving preparations, holiday shopping, deer season and Christmas lights. This year I got lucky. It was 65 degrees with calm winds the weekend I put up the lights but there have been Novembers past when I worked in weather so cold I could not feel my fingers and times when it sleeted on me and once, after the lights were all in place, that a hailstorm arrived to pummel roofs, cars and Christmas lights with golf ball sized ice.
It's during those bad weather Novembers that I question why I put lights up at all. My kids are grown, one has her own home and my granddaughter, though interested in lights, is probably too young to appreciate them. Oh yes, and Januarys, that's when the lights all come back down again and when I can safely predict cold, blustery days for the task.
When I'm putting them up, I can always count on at least two trips to Wal-Mart to replace a strand of lights that did not make it through the harsh summer of my attic or to add another extension cord because one got used for something else during the off season. I long ago learned that it is far less trying on my patience to replace a $2.38 strand of lights than to repair the non-working culprits. I have even begun preparing during the current year for the next by buying lights at 50-75% off in after Christmas sales although I sometimes find that those, too, meet with a tragic demise in my attic prior to the start of the season.
Last November the weather was pretty cold and I had to escape to the house several times for warmth before finishing lacing up branches and wrapping tree trunks, setting out a lighted moose and three Christmas trees of lights that my dad made many years ago.
And January was cold and blustery, just in time for removing the lights and packing them for storage.
I was concentrating on light removal during that inclement weather when I heard a voice say, "Excuse me, sir?" I turned to find Betty, my neighbor from across the street. "I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your Christmas lights," Betty continued. "I keep my shades drawn most of the time but I looked outside every evening and admired those lights."
What a wonderful compliment. I thanked Betty and she headed back across the street to her home. Betty is over 80 and she has Alzheimer's. She doesn't recall my name anymore but she remembers my Christmas lights. And she found joy in them. This year, I remembered why I put those lights up. This year, they are for Betty and every time I see her shades part, I know she has admired those lights.