Sunday, December 30, 2012

Stupid Christmas Lights

I'm sitting on my couch tonight contemplating the Universe.  Okay, really I'm just thinking about the Christmas decorations.  And what I'm thinking is that they need to come down.  And I'm too tired to take them down because I've just spent the last 4 days diving into the abyss known as my children's rooms.  And I have tamed this primal chaos.  And I am tired.

And now I am wondering what in the world I was thinking several weeks ago when it was time to put up the Christmas decorations, and I decided we needed to put lights on the house.  We have never put lights on the house previously, but this year, I decided it had to happen.  My children were lamenting that we never decorate for anything--to which I pointed out that I did indeed put a pumpkin on the porch for Halloween--uncarved, but whatev.  Anyway, I decided that we should put lights on the house.  Matt didn't want to.  But since I had made up my mind, it was going to happen, even if I had to do it myself!

Last year my friend Christine put lights up on her tall pointy rafters all by herself because her husband is the FBI and he was off catching bad guys. If Christine can climb up a ladder, then dang it so can I! (Did I mention that Christine also rides motorcycles and runs man races and is the Queen of Christmas?  Yeah, looking back it was a bad move to try to keep up with Christine.  She kicks my butt in all things, including and maybe especially the Christmas light category.)

Really, and quite naively, I thought that somehow I would convince my husband to do it.  When God created Adam and Eve and set forth how marriage was supposed to work, He clearly stated that Christmas lights on the outside of the house are one of the husband's supreme and sublime duties.  Oh wait, you don't have that version of the Bible?  They maybe left that out in some translations, but it definitely reads like that in the Romanian version which I would be happy to read aloud and offer up a personal translation for anyone, anytime.

Matt, it seems, doesn't believe the word of God as written in Romanian and translated by Heather, and so I had to move on to other tactics.

I started with hinting.  Then I moved to flirting.  Then I went to bribery.  Nothin'.

So pretty soon I found myself outside, on a ladder, with a staple gun.  That's right.  A staple GUN. Because tough women shoot guns . . . with staples in them. And I got some lights hung partway along the top of the garage and then the string of lights became unweildy and the staple gun hard to maneuver and then I stapled through the cord and almost said a swear word.

"Cora," I said to my eldest daughter who was watching me with a fascinated and somewhat worried look on her face, "Go and get your father."

And soon Matt appeared reluctantly in the doorway with a wary look on his face.  It's the look he gets when he knows I am going to make him do something he really doesn't want to do.  "Did you need me?"

"Yes," I said in my voice that was too calm which really meant that I was about to lose it, "I would like you to help me hang the Christmas lights."

And so Matt walked slowly down the garage steps, like a man condemned, and came and stood next to me to see what I'd done so far.  I hadn't even hung one strand of lights.

"How would you like me to help you?" he said very reasonably, so that to our neighbor Clyde who was out hanging his lights too, probably thought we were having a very normal conversation, when really it was a heated battle of wills.

I suggested several options for how this might go, and finally Matt asked, "Would you just like me to do it?"


And so he traced the garage with the lights and then asked how I wanted the rest of it to go.  I suggested several options, and he said, "Just tell me what you want."

And, seeing my husband in utter misery, I told him just to staple them in a straight line to the nearest outlet.  The end.  It looked stupid, but we just pretended that was what we meant to do all along.

In the end, the Christmas lights were a surrender.  I learned that I am not all powerful, even with a staple gun in my hand, and that sometimes I legitimately need my husband.  My husband came, even though he was much happier sitting on the bed listening to podcasts.  And I know that he came because he loves me.  And because he loves me, he would have covered the house in lights.  But because I love him, I surrendered.  And sometimes that's what love is.  Stupid Christmas lights.