This year, Christmas decorations came to mind. In particular, outside lights.
When I was a kid, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I remember very distinctly the routine for putting the lights up on the house.
It was almost always nose-running cold.
Daddy made that star from scraps of lath and secured the lights to it by tacking smaller “steeples” over the cording. Obviously this construction took place before my parents became disciples of the staple gun.
The lights on the runs and the star were made of glass, so you had to be careful. Bang a strand into the banister in those cold temps and you were sweeping up shards and trying to find the needle nose pliers to get what was left out of that socket on the strand.
And then you had to go find that box that held the extra bulbs.
And hope that they worked because you couldn’t shake them like an incandescent to tell.
And for heaven’s sake don’t bring a bulb that was the same color as the bulbs to the left or right!
You would think we would have learned and dragged the whole extra-bulb-box out with us, but hope springs eternal, “I don’t think we’ll need it,” someone would always say.
Inevitably, or so it seemed, the years we managed NOT to break a bulb, there was a bulb burned out when we turned them all on!
“I thought you plugged those strands in and checked them before we came out here!”
“I did! I didn’t see them. Where’d that ladder go? Go get me some more bubs. Hurry up, it’s cold!”
Once the lights were up and on, however, we would all "ooh and ahh" over them before scurrying in to thaw.
Coming home of a cold dark evening, before making the last turn onto our road, I could begin to see our lights intermittently through the bare trees. As a little kid, the sight always made me smile because I thought they were pretty. As an adult, the thought of the sight always makes me smile because it was something we always did, usually all together.
Over the years, the star came off the top of the house and onto the fascia below. Driving snow and wind began to take a toll. In an effort to save the star, Daddy attached support laths to it.
The runs of lights became “run” of lights. Just across the top, no wrapping of the porch posts.
I rummaged through my old photographs trying to find one of the way the porch looked when I was a kid, but to no avail. The only one I could find was one from 1991.
But in 1991, the star and the house lights came out one last time. That was the year my brother took his five-year-old daughter to West Virginia for Christmas.
A good reason indeed to bring out the lights.