Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Second Coming of Clark Griswold

Once I saw the movie Christmas Vacation, I realized why I was put on this earth. My reason for being became obvious. Someday when I own a house, I thought, my ultimate goal will be to have the biggest and brightest holiday lighting display in the entire neighborhood.

Now that I am a home owner, each year on the day after Thanksgiving, my plan to take over the electricial grid begins to take shape. It began with a marathon think-tank session in the basement drafting out every possible contingency. Temperature, wind, rain, snow, nosey neighbors, dead lights, bad extension cords, they were all accounted for at least in theory. After ten hours in the basement racking my brains out, I emerged and proclaimed to all that would listen that I had the ultimate plan! The lovely Mrs. Sabs' response to my declaration: A stare. You know, the stare that screams "Are you a freak?" It didn't matter. The 2006 Christmas lighting display plan was ready. Today was the day that my ultimate Christmas lighting display plan was executed. And I must say that it all went according to plan. Mrs. Sabs reluctantly gave me props for a job well done. Who's the man.

Clark Griswold I am least not yet. But with three solid years of Christmas lighting experience under my belt, I've learned a few things:

1) Check all of the lights BEFORE you hang them. Seems like a no brainer but trust me, it never fails. Each year, a neighbor hangs them all without testing them and nothing works. Then I hear a volley of expletives between him and his wife blaming the other for the faulty lights. While this makes for great entertainment, it will happen to you and your significant other if you don't plug them in FIRST.

2) Mark the strands with labels.

Again, it makes perfect sense. However, when you're tearing it all down after the first of the year, you'll try to convince yourself that you'll remember where they'll all go next year. In reality, by January 10th, you'll forget that you even have Christmas lights. So put labels on your lights!

3) Forget about wrapping lights neatly.

What the hell are you talking about? Trust me. Neatly coiling up the lights before putting them away might seem like a good idea in an attempt at preventing chaos the following year but it does no good. For some unknown reason, the Christmas lights all snuggled away in the attic undergo a metamorphosis changing them from their perfectly tidey state into the poster child for ultimate chaos over the span of a summer. November rolls around and you open the box stored in the attic and the neatly bundled lights are now a clump of green wires all balled up in total disarray. There is no stopping it. Just throw them in a box and be done with it.

4) Draw a detailed diagram of your layout.

If you need graph paper to do this, borrow some from your kids. Make sure the labels on your lights are identified in the diagram. Maybe buy some colored pencils of markers. Color is good.

5) Add more fuses.

If you plan to add more lights each year, you need to add a dedicated fuse or ten. Its all about the power, baby!

Good Luck!