It was unusually warm outside for November and the winds had died down considerably. Must husband had been working hard all week getting the leaves raked and the yard prepared for winter. In addition, he’d taken time to help a family member with a small construction project. He’d put in so much time outside and admittedly, I was feeling a little guilty for not helping more. I decided to take it upon myself to hang the outdoor Christmas lights on our backyard fence.
At first glance, this is not a difficult project and most years we do it in sub-zero temps and freezing drizzle. I wasn’t even wearing a coat last weekend! It seemed like the perfect day and I had an abundance of holiday spirit!
The hardest part is always finding the box of lights that work. Why is it we save strings of lights that no longer work? Year after year it seems we have a collection of lights that half work, or have shorts, or don’t work at all. Last year I took extra care to literally pitch the non-working lights. But for some reason this year I found lights in multiple locations! Go figure! To be sure, I took time to plug each set in to be sure they worked BEFORE stringing them along the to of the fence!
One of my biggest challenges is making sure I start with the correct plug closest to the outlet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started with the wrong end then had no way to plug them in! Very purposefully, I stretched out the first strand first making sure all the lights lit up, then double checking the female end of the cord was closest to the house.
All went well. That is until I wanted to plug the next set of lights into the first strand. I don’t really understand this electrical phenomenon, but one prong is always bigger than the other! Why do they do that? It’s so confusing! And wouldn’t you know it? I got ready to plug in the second set of lights and the first set didn’t allow for one prong to be bigger! There was NO way those two plugs were going to fit together! (Believe me, I tried!)
That brought on a whole new situation. Now I not only had to check all the lights to be sure they worked, I also had to check to make sure the female end was made to fit properly—with one prong larger than the other. I stretched all the strands out in the grass and double checked they would fit together. Satisfied, I removed the first set of lights that was already on the edge of the fence and drug it to the far end. Only ONE end was not useful! The other would plug in just fine!
Satisfied and quite proud of myself, I started over. The dog scouted squirrels while I worked. It was peaceful and quiet and quite comfortable working outside. Row after row I secured the lights to the fence. All the way from the house to the far west side of the lawn. And then I turned the corner, zip-tying the last set of lights to the fence!
Done! I was ecstatic!
I had another box of lights and decided to use one of the sets to string along the shorter fence on the east side of the porch! It would be so festive to have little white Christmas lights shining in the dark! Afterall, 2020 has been a year, hasn’t it? And now the days are so darned short! Even though it was still two weeks before Thanksgiving, it seemed right to illuminate a sign of hope by lighting the top of edge of my fence!
My husband came home as I zip-tied the final light to the east fence.
He seemed impressed but uninterested. You know the look. He was surprised I’d taken the project on by myself and yet not really interested in participating! He gave me some encouraging words and cheered me on!
I still had a little daylight left so hurried to find extension cords long enough to plug everything in. My plan was to flip one switch on the porch and everything would light up simultaneously! Wah-lah! I was feeling very accomplished.
The east lights plugged in great! I double checked them. One flip of the switch and they lit up! One set done.
Six long sets of icicle lights were ready to illuminate the whole west yard! Trying to block the Christmas lighting scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation from my mind, I plugged the extension cord into the switched outlet on my porch and unwound it all the way to the strand of lights closest to the house.
I was ready to plug my beautifully hung lights into the extension cord. My husband was sitting on the edge of the deck with the dog. Of course, he was be watching. Daylight was waning now so I had to hurry. I heard the drum roll in my head from National Lampoon’s moment! I put the ends of the two cords together.
Next came the point of decision. Do I turn around and look at my husband? Or wait for him to ask.
I decided to wait.
He finally asked. “What’s wrong.”
My feeble reply. “Don’t laugh.”
“Are you going to plug them in?”
“They don’t fit.”
“What do you mean they don’t fit?”
By this time, he was standing next to me. I opened my hands.
Both ends of the cords were female ends.
I’m thinking: I know I checked that more than once!
Hands in his pockets, he’s surveying my dilemma.
There were no words.
I’m looking at this incredibly long row of lights already zip-tied perfectly to the fence. It was too dark to cut them off and start over. Yet, there was no extension cord in my possession with two male ends. Another thought: Do they even make extension cords like that?
My husband disappeared while I was still trying to mentally figure out where I made the mistake! I knew I’d worked that all the way through in my head! I actually talked it out loud before attaching the very first string of lights—you know, the one that didn’t fit two different sized prongs?
Both the dog and my husband returned with two other extension cords. One had been spliced a few times by various power tools. Electrical tape marked the places the cord had been cut and repaired over time! The other cord I’d never seen. Reluctantly, I made my way to the edge of the deck.
There was my hubby, quietly working away to make me a custom extension cord with TWO male ends so I could plug in my Christmas lights!
No words. Simply an act of love. I’m sure he was laughing on the inside (because it kinda showed in his expression!) but on the outside, he was diligently fixing my problem.
Several minutes later, he plugged in both ends of the cord and I flipped the switch. Everything illuminated at once! It was a beautiful sight to behold!
The lights overcame the darkness!
I knew without a doubt: This is Love!
About 3 AM the next morning I woke with a start! Out of the depth of the night I realized where I’d made my mistake! Remember? I had to start over on the first set of lights! I’d taken care to figure out which end of the cord to put closest to the house on the FIRST set. But, when I had to switch them out, I didn’t take time to review! Thus, I ended up with the WRONG end closest to the house! Of course! I knew I’d worked that through correctly!
In my exuberance at remembering, I reached to wake my hubby who was soundly sleeping next to me.
Then I remembered him sitting on the edge of the deck, simply fixing my problem. No words. Just an expression of love.
I decided to reciprocate. There were no words. I let him sleep.
This is Love!