The plan was simple enough: every year I would purchase another string of Christmas lights and by the time the Missus and I were married 100 years, I would have enough lights tacked onto the house it could be seen from space.
However, as we all know, things don't always go as planned. Actually, they rarely go as planned.
Initially, I bought several strings of lights at once because I did not decorate our rental unit and when be finally managed to scratch enough together to buy a house, having just a single strand lighting up the Yuletide night would look pathetic.
So, I bought a strand for every year we had been married to that point. It was enough to give the house a festive feel and my plan was well underway.
Then one day as I was walking my then elementary-aged kids to school, my son asked why I took the lights down.
Some Grinch has pilfered a good portion of my pretty lights. At least half the lights were gone. The Yuletide dirtbag had simply grabbed a strand, pulled and took off with his ill-gotten goods.
Whoever took the lights did not put a lot of effort into their act of skullduggery and grabbed the easiest ones they could. They left a few strings still attached to the tree, but it was far from the extravagant light show it had once been.
Hoping the thieving little, um, er, person would get a lump of coal for Christmas, I trudged down to the local mega-store where I bought some replacement strands.
The lights were back on and there were no more acts of holiday barbarism. Until the next year that is, when more strands were stolen.
The strand-a-year plan was officially dead – just like my Christmas light display. But I refused to give up and on Dec. 27 I bought several more strands – on sale – and made plans for next year.
I would put the lights up higher where they could not be easily reached. The tree next to the sidewalk would have to go through Christmas naked even though it looked really cool when the snow covered the lights.
The plan worked and no lights were removed without my consent.
While I was taking care of the outside show of celebration, my wife was looking after the decorations inside.
I never had a Christmas tree when I was a kid, my parents did not believe in it. I did not have my first Christmas tree until after I married. We were young, I was going to college and finances were scarce so we bought the cheapest tree we could find.
It cost $5 and was the quintessential Charley Brown Christmas tree. It was small, spindly and lopsided, but it was the coolest Christmas tree I had ever seen.
Since then, our finances and subsequent tree budget has grown so now, 26 Christmases later, we get a decent tree.
Which is good, because each year the Missus purchases a decoration to represent the year that was. She also buys special ornaments for the children each year and that means we have a lot of decorations to cram onto a tree.
Eventually, we will be looking at a California redwood Christmas tree because a Canadian pine tree just will not be large enough to hold everything.
Every year it takes a little longer to decorate. Not only are there the decorations we purchased, but ones the children made at school over the years, so that little tree is drooping under the weight of it all.
Do the math: three kids, each doing seven years of elementary school and each making at least one ornament per year. That alone is 21 ornaments and we have managed to keep almost all of them.
The kids get a real kick out of seeing ornaments they made when they were little, and they are by far my favourite ornaments inside or out.
Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh