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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)

TITLE: Obsessive Light Disorder--OLD
By Sheri Gordon


4:17 a.m., and the alarm buzzes softly on the bedside table. I silently slip out from under the covers (slip is probably not the right word since we sleep on flannel sheets—wiggle more accurately describes my exit), and tiptoe from the room.

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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This article has been read 928 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharlyn Guthrie11/07/08
Oh, this is a hoot! I love the title. I wonder what OD posesses a 4:30 a.m. bargain hunter.
Sally Hanan11/07/08
Phew; I'm glad I don't live in that house! I think your nailed your characterization of ocd.
Gregory Kane11/08/08
This was incredible. What superb characterisation. I'm looking forward to finding out if the author is male or female!
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/08/08
Hmmm I'm thinking this was almost the pot calling the kettle black--each spouse with a personal obsession from shopping, to fixing the lights. I enjoyed the story very much.
Joanne Sher 11/09/08
I love the "battling obsessions" here ;) Great characterization!
Beth LaBuff 11/09/08
What a great title! I loved this, "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 later… "he 'sensed' something wasn't right"…LOL What fun!
Scott Sheets11/10/08
I bet everyone knows somebody that's OLD. Fun take on the topic. Nice Job!
Charla Diehl 11/10/08
Nine hours of shopping?!?! That would be my worst nightmare!
Fun story of the things that drive us as individuals.
Janice Fitzpatrick11/12/08
I had read this earlier but it was in the middle of the night and my comments would have been a mess of typos,grin. So, I thought I would comment now and I'm glad I reread this. What a cute story and you are gifted at writing humor. Nice touch! I agree with some of the others, the way you showed how the hubby and wife pointed fingers at each others idiosyncrasies is so true to life. This is very relateable. I would have to say though that as much as I like shopping 9 hrs would do me in, and I'd need feet replacements, grin. Great job!!!
Celeste Ammirata11/12/08
Wonderful characterisations! This story made me smile.
Loren T. Lowery11/12/08
: ) Oddly enough, I think I live next door to them! Great characterization.

Joy Faire Stewart11/13/08
Oh, this is fun. Love the humor and congratulations on your EC!
Heather Sargent11/13/08
This is fantastic!! I love everything about it, well done, and congratulations on your win!!
Catrina Bradley 11/13/08
Love the voice of your MC, smooth read, great story. Congrats on your EC!
Kristen Hester11/13/08
CUTE! Congrats on your EC. This is my favorite line:
...and a Keep Christ in Christmas display—like that helps make this electricity-induced nightmare credible. LOL. Great job.
Karen Wilber11/14/08
LOL. Love the "he sensed something wasn't right" bit. It'd be funny to read this story from the husband's POV.
Dee Yoder 11/14/08
Wow! My husband is BOTH of these characters...he shops at 4 AM the day after Christmas (electronics only, doncha know), AND he's OC with his Christmas lights! LOL. I've learned to:

a. leave a list for the first problem


b. make a cup of cocoa and enjoy the lights for the second problem. (:

Love this story!