Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)
TITLE: Obsessive Light Disorder--OLD
By Sheri Gordon
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Being the oh-so-considerate wife and mom, I do not want to wake my husband and children as I prepare for battle. Last night, I gathered my combat clothes, as well as toiletries and adornments, and placed everything in our downstairs bathroom.
I successfully negotiate the winding staircase in total darkness with only a minor toe-stub and a slightly missed bottom step.
After donning my official After-Thanksgiving-Day shopping attire, complete with snowman socks and earrings, I exit the bathroom only to run smack-dab into my husband. Reacting on pure instinct and adrenaline, I clap my hand over my mouth to prevent a blood-curling scream from escaping.
I slow my breathing down enough to state the obvious. “What in the world are you doing up? You scared the living daylights out of me.” (I'm not sure what that saying means, but that’s what comes tumbling out at 4:36 a.m.)
My husband nonchalantly replies, “heading to the garage,” and closes the door behind him.
A look at the light-up clock in the kitchen shows that I have nine minutes until my ride arrives, so I follow my husband out the door.
“And what do you need in the garage at 4:36 in the morning?”
“The Christmas lights.”
“The Christmas lights?!”
“Yeah. Is there a problem with that?” Before I can answer, he flashes me his cock-eyed smile and asks me to hold the ladder while he climbs into the rafters.
Grasping the ladder securely, I try to discern exactly what is taking place in our garage at…4:38 a.m.
My husband continues talking as he begins handing down random strands of lights followed by boxes of miscellaneous bulbs. “You know I have to be the first one with lights up in the neighborhood, and last year I almost got beat. This year, I’m not taking any chances.”
As he descends from the rafters, I hear my ride pull into the driveway.
“Are you telling me you’re going to hang Christmas lights up at five o’clock in the morning?”
“Don’t be ridiculous—I can’t hang lights in the dark. First I have to untangle these strings, check the bulbs, go to Ace if I need replacements—by the way, they’re opening at 5:30 this morning and have great sales on tools if you’re looking for a present for your wonderful husband—and then I’ll start putting up the lights as soon as I can see outside. Those hoity-toity neighbors at the end may have fancy-smancy lights, but I’ll be darned if they’ll be up first.”
I give my husband a quick kiss and exit the garage before I’m tempted to taunt him about “the pattern.” You see, my husband isn’t only obsessed with being the first house to have lights up in the neighborhood, he also has to have a precise pattern to his lights. And the lights have to start and stop at a specific place in the pattern. Red, green, blue, orange, white. Repeat. And, every light has to be lit—no excuses for burnt-out bulbs.
(I made the mistake one year of replacing a burnt-out orange bulb with a red bulb…orange replacements are harder to come by. I thought it would go completely unnoticed, being on the far side of the house. Wrong. The lights had not been on more than five minutes when my husband “sensed” something wasn’t right. He left and didn’t return until he had an orange bulb in his possession.)
Combating crowds, grappling for giveaways, and browsing for bargains, I temporarily forget about my husband’s light obsession. Nine hours later I arrive back home with arm loads of packages. The lights are up on the house, as usual, beginning with red on the far left and ending with white on the right. Everything is in order, except…
I find myself staring at a giant light festival on my front lawn, complete with a smoke-spouting train, elves shooting decorations onto trees, parading tin soldiers, prancing reindeer, and a Keep Christ in Christmas display—like that helps make this electricity-induced nightmare credible.
I peer around a saluting soldier and spot my husband plugging in a golfing Santa. “Isn’t this great, sweetie? And I was first.”
“Uhhh….yeah…congratulations. Honey, you’re certifiably OLD…we need to talk.”
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