Column: Lights or no lights, it’s a Christmas tree


We had no lights on our Christmas tree. Let me rephrase that. The lights on our Christmas tree didn’t work.

They worked fine last year, but when I put the tree together this year they didn’t. I admit we have an artificial tree now. For years I promised by all that is holy that I would never have an artificial tree. I guess you have to reach a certain level of wisdom to realize how ridiculous that kind of promise is.

Today, simplicity is the rule. Out of the box and up in minutes. Add ribbon and glass balls and the job is done. At the end of the season, back in the box and up in the attic.

Anyway, this season, the lights didn’t work. They are battery-operated, you see and one of the spring thingies that works as a ground for the battery rusted and broke off.

So, the tree was beautifully decorated. It just didn’t have lights.

Neither did the Christmas tree we had when I was six years old. We had lights then, too, but we lived in a log cabin in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and we didn’t have electricity.

We decorated that tree with popcorn, cranberries and loopy chains made from colored paper. When it was all finished, Mom put cotton balls on some of the limbs so it would look like snow. Truthfully, they just looked like cotton balls. Dad offered to go out in the back yard and bring in some real snow, but Mom said the cotton balls looked just fine.

Later, when I was a grownup, I vowed to make up for that “no lights” Christmas tree. I bought every kind of light I could find.

Remember the bubble lights that looked like candles? We had lots of those. And those tiny blue lights that made the tree look like it was enchanted? We had those too, plus several strings of multi-colored lights. Others twinkled on and off.

Right after Thanksgiving, I would drag them out and plug them in.  It took hours to go from bulb to bulb to find the one that was burned out, which made the whole string go out.

For years, I insisted on going into the woods and cutting my own tree. Later, we found it easier to go to the Christmas tree farm. You pick the tree, and they cut it for you.

Then a certain level of wisdom kicked in, and we brought home an artificial tree. It’s not only easier, it’s beautiful. It just doesn’t have lights.

I guess we’ve come full circle.

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