In a few days the race to put up Christmas lights will begin in my hood. I’m anticipating a tight battle between PC and the Malamute for first place. In a month, the fam and I will drive slowly through our neighborhood and a few others rendering judgement on Christmas lights and decorations.
“Wowa, nice lightage, I thought the deer was real, nine. Eight. Nine. Ten. Nah, can’t be a ten, Santa needs more air, he’s melting.”
Eventually we’ll pull up to our house and the grief will begin. “Zero! Zero! Dad, come on, it’s embarrassing.” And once again I’ll explain that by not putting lights up I’m contributing to the greater good because our dark house makes the others look so good by comparison.
No, its not just that I’m too darn frugal. Ten years ago, when we first moved to Olympia, I spent the first December silently staring at our roof. Day after day. At the end of the month, the family gathered around hoping I’d finally speak. When I said, “Damn, that’s a steep roof line,” they couldn’t have been more disappointed.
So the following year, I stared at the roof for a few days, recalled the double X’s disappointment, pulled lights out from under the house, and got the ladder out. Game on.
Fast forward thirty minutes. I’m spread eagle on the highest, steepest point of the roof, left arm and leg down one side, right arm and leg down the other, and I can’t move. PC finds it so funny he stops working on his lights to watch me try to figure out what to do. Instead of lending moral support he makes a few snide sexual jokes that I don’t find as funny as I might normally.
It was an unexpected place to take stock of my life and what I was most going to miss about it. I’m only half joking, I didn’t know if I could reverse my tracks without sliding off and I didn’t know if I’d survive the 15-20′ fall. I just hoped my family would appreciate the fact that I checked out trying to bring them a little Christmas joy.
When I got down and thanked PC for his wonderful support, I was shaking. Right then I swore off our roof for good. You want lights, find another house.
Since then the X’s have made half-ass efforts at putting up lights above the garage and around the front door.
It’s sad they haven’t embraced my “greater good” argument, but what can I do?
As I write this, I’m staring out my home office window at the exact part of the roof where I almost met my maker. Over the years a light layer of moss has formed on the wood shake panels. And they’re moist this afternoon as a result of this morning’s fog.
Until they find another house, I will focus on living and the neighborhood’s greater good.