The cashier could tell my story just by the look on my face.

That look is what my wife Kathy would call my “grumpy face.”

According to the cashier, it was the same look “all you guys were having today.”

Of course the giveaway might have been the five boxes of Christmas lights that I was purchasing.

To back up. . .

At noon on Saturday we had a typical birthday party for my grandson: fried chicken, mashed potatoes and 16 candles on a pumpkin pie.

After the gifts were opened and the pie cut, we went for a walk in the park and a short drive with the top down on the convertible.

(Sunday morning, heading to the jeep to get to the office, it was a unique sight to see the convertible in the garage with the near visibility snow blowing from the view of the open garage door.)

Hearing the report of a blizzard headed our way, we rushed back home so we could finish putting up Christmas lights.

I say finish because we had already put up the trees.

(That is not a typo. I meant trees. Plural. While a few less than the 70 Christmas trees in the Seelye Mansion, we have our fair share, including one in the laundry room.)

Now I have been putting up lights for a long time. I didn’t need to watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” to know that when hanging lights you hang them plugged in and turned on.

Anyone who has ever decorated with Christmas lights knows — apparently there were a lot of us Saturday in the register line at Shopko — you always keep a spare string of two or three or four for when that one partial row of lights goes out, there are replacements.

Otherwise you end up like Clark Griswald checking every single bulb trying to find out which one is causing part of the string of 200 to be out.

There was a time when we lined most of our house with icicle lights. It was a beautiful sight until that two-foot string of lights when out. It wasn’t long after replacing the entire string that another two-foot string went. Then another two foot section and another two foot section.

We eventually gave away all of the icicle lights, including those still in the box, to a gentleman searching for some in the Christmas aisle with me at Alco. Now we just wrap our pillars with lights entertwined with evergreen garland.

With daylight burning Saturday, I rushed home to hang those lights while it was still 62 degrees, knowing what was headed our way.

I gathered up the two ladders and three extension cords while Kathy brought out the greenery.

We rushing to get the job finished before dark. Of course I checked to make sure all the lights worked before wrapping them around the posts.

Still, one of the strands was half lit.

Now replacing the strand with the greenery is not as easy as replacing those which had already been replaced on the Christmas tree because a) the garland and lights had to be taken down, b) the old lights had to be removed, c) new lights had to be added to the garland and d) it had to be wrapped around the post again.

Thus, the frustration on my face late Saturday afternoon as I was rushing to purchase new lights and get them mounted before the snow flew, which we all know it did.

Now I have backups for the next time part of a string of lights goes out. . .

Like another one just did on the Christmas tree in the living room, but don’t tell Kathy. She hasn’t seen it, yet.

Contact Tim Horan at

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