While we’re on the subject of tree-trimming parties, I thought I should chat about the tree and its accoutrements. If you’re throwing such a party, it’s a good idea to have the tree already set up and the lights strung before your guests arrive. That’s what Mary and Phillip did for their party. Phil had hauled their tree and their many boxes of perfectly organized decorations all down from the trunk room (they have a trunk room, how cool is that?), so we could just jump in and decorate as we felt the urge. And it worked well. The tree looks fabulous. We even left a whole box of glass balls for Mary’s daughter Megan, who had to work while we trimmed, to finish the decorations. (Megan McGinnis is appearing in Daddy Long Legs this holiday season at the Laguna Playhouse; the show was written for her. This will be your last chance to catch her in it.)
And now I’ll tell you why that’s a good idea. My sisters Dee, Hellen and Alisande all took me out to sushi for my birthday the other night, and after I had a G&T and they each drank a mai tai apiece, it seemed like a great idea to just jump in and decorate my tree. They helped me drag my tree down from the garage rafters (and there starts the difference between Mary’s house and mine – rafters v. trunk room). Then came the ornaments and tchotchkes that I toss about the house. We got my pre-lit tree up and plugged in and all 3,000 lights lit up (as best as I can tell). I opened a bottle of wine and the case holding my additional colored lights that continue the theme that is my tree. I have the theory that you just can’t have enough lights or decorations on a seven-foot tree. And every year I add to the collection–both in lights and ornaments. I now have about 2,000 colored lights in addition to those that come on the tree, and if I could find more of those great cluster lights, I’d add another 1,000. But since I can’t, I’ll have to make do.
Now, about those lights. My tree looked spectacular last year, and as I took it down mid-January (yeah, okay, I’m not one of those New Year’s Day saints!), I wrapped each string lovingly in its own little strand, having virtuously tested each before the wrapping. I always test them before I put them away so I know what to not bother with storing for a year. However, as we poured another glass of wine and, of course, tested my 2,000 lights before stringing them on the tree, we made a really irritating discovery: Only two strands of them worked–and not even all of those two pathetic strands.
So for another two hours and the rest of the bottle of wine, we tried to get those lights to work. No joy. Hellen thinks the copper wires inside the lightbulbs corroded. Allisande went to bed and Dee went home; problem solved–for them. Me? I couldn’t let it go. All the new lights on the market are those cold, dead LED lights that lack warmth and charm.
So last night on the way home from work, I stopped at Lowe’s on the off chance that they might have real lights. They didn’t. In fact the shelves were virtually bare. But what I did find was a very cool gizhockie that checks light strings, so you don’t have to ruin your manicure or your butter knives. You test the line continuity (yes, I do know what that means) and each bulb by just pausing the handy-dandy tool next to it, so you can find the troublesome bulb (in theory). Now tonight after I’m done posting, I’m going to plug in each strand while I watch Burn Notice (just says Christmas, doesn’t it?) and make them work in time for my reorganized tree decorating get-together at my house on Sunday.
Mary, Dee and Laurie have volunteered to come back and help. Ya think I should call Hellen and Allisande? They might come off the mountain again this soon. I’ve promised Laurie crab cakes for lunch. I’ll let you know….