Before I get slapped with the “Ba humbug” label, read on – although I did come mighty close to stomping every green, yellow, red, blue and pink light into a kaleidoscope of holiday dust, my house is a this point partially festooned with lights.

I thought it would be a great day to get started on the old Holiday checklist – thus, I pulled out all of my Christmas lights and went through the task of testing each and every string. While this is a crucial step in the process of decorating, it usually winds up being a baffling waste of time. Because no matter how many years I perform this task, a string of tested, and deemed perfectly good lights, decides it no longer feels like being part of my team.

It happens every year. I’ll be halfway through my light stringing process, and suddenly one string of lights – inveritably in the middle of the bunch, will just conk out. This will occur despite the fact that a mere 30 minutes earlier, it lit up in true Christmas glory. While this on its own sucks, the bushes I am stringing these lights on have a tendency to tear human flesh. Now I have to un-string it all, disconnect the traitorous batch of lights, and replace it with a set that I can only pray is willing to play fair.

But this year my Christmas lights upped the ante. By playing into my total lack of common sense, they figured out a new method of torture.

I began like I always do, by stringing some fake pine garland along the railing of my front deck. It’s the best Christmas buy I’ve ever made – got it at Big Lots back in the late 90s and have been using it ever since. My husband hates it, but I really love the way it looks on our railing and have lobbied long and hard to keep it. I then decorate the rest of the railing and deck, and move on to the three bushes in front.

This year, I got the bright idea to string the deck lights to the bushes in front and save myself an extension cord. We only have a few that are green…we also have bright orange ones, but they don’t camouflage as well as the green so I’m not supposed to use them (hubby rule). I got the first bush covered, and then the second after having to troubleshoot several outages…the lights were not tired of playing that game with me.

When I moved on to the third and final bush, I plugged in a new string of lights and saw that half the string was out. I cursed silently to myself, and tried another string. And suddenly…

All the lights went out. Every string. Not just half, not just a few, not just one strand, but every fucking light.

I was so pissed my head began to spin. I’d just spent at least 2 hours and all the lights were out. For the next 30 minutes I plugged and unplugged several series of lights, and extension cords and had more than a few sips of wine. I found what I perceived to be the offending section of lights and replaced them with fresh ones.

Ah, now we’re cooking! I get back to my three bushes in front, fix bush #1 and bush #2, and plug in a new strand for bush #2 when, poof!

All the lights went out.

FUCK! This was getting ridiculous. I was cold, my hands were chapped and scratched from the bushes sent from Satan’s greenhouse, and now I was facing a total Christmas light blackout again. I went back to the first string again, thinking it was burnt out, when it suddenly dawned on me.

I had strung too many lights together. Just like Ralphie’s dad in “A Christmas Story,” I had blown a fuse. The realization of this was a total “duh” moment for me, but I wasn’t sure I had figured out my dilemma.

I keep a box filled with the little baggies of spare lights and fuses that each and every set of Christmas lights comes with. I grabbed a screwdriver and a pair of those mini fuses and replaced them both. After unplugging the string that was indeed one too many, and replacing the blown fuse, all my lights came back to life.

Ah, success!

It was getting dark, and I was too cold and tired to start on the bushes again, so I called it a day. I tested the strings of lights that I thought were bad, and replaced the fuses in all of them – I got most of them to work again. I was glad because I would’ve thrown out perfectly good lights otherwise.

Tomorrow I’ll head out and finish my decorating as best I can. I will certainly need at least 6 more strings of lights to cover the ones that never came back to life from last year, and the ones I ruined by throwing a tiny tantrum after I quite literally blew my fuse. I’ll be on the lookout for sales…

As crappy as my light stringing experience was today, I did learn something…you can only string so many sets of lights together. Believe me, it’s a mistake I won’t make twice.

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