This weekend was not what I expected. Our Christmas tree is one of those pre-lit deals. It’s 7′ tall; it had to be taller than Coach. And it’s in its sixth year of use, a good run for a pre-lit tree I’m told. In the past, we have taken it out of the storage bag, connected the three sections, fluffed the branches, and plugged it in and voila, a Christmas tree. This was not the past!
When we plugged in the bottom section, half of it remained dark. Darn those blinkin’ lights! So Coach and I began the systematic search for burnt out bulbs in different areas. As the Christmas music played in the background, I laid on the floor pulling, replacing, and testing bulbs. My fingers began to ache. The bulbs got tougher to pull and we were getting no where. Which blinkin’ bulb was it? Do we really need blinkin’ Christmas lights anyway? After about an hour of this process with no progress, I took a break and went to the source of all knowledge, Google.
With a quick search, I discovered a tool that was supposed to aid in the process. During my search, Coach, who was still working, noticed my absence. Thinking I had abandoned him, which I sort of had, he called for me. I shared the delight of this tool and we quickly decided that he should make a run to the local Home Depot and procure this miracle device that would save our Christmas tree and our sanity.
After Coach was on his way, I decided to decorate something else as the boys continued napping. The stockings, an obvious choice. I wrap our banister with a pre-lit garland and tie our stockings to it. That would be a quick and easy project and get something in our home looking Christmasy for the boys when they awoke (since they were expecting a tree). So I wrapped the banister, found the extension cord, and…those blinkin’ lights! They didn’t work either. Ok, now that I have fake pine straw all over the stairs, what do I do? Another thought popped in to my head. What if the other two sections of the tree don’t work? A quick test and half of those lights are out too. Oh, you blinkin’ lights!
Coach returned with the advertised miracle tool, lots of mini-bulb replacements, and groceries for dinner. With the boys fed and happily playing upstairs, we began again. The directions for this tool are involved because it does so many things, but once Coach figured it out I am thrilled to report it works wonders. It reconnected the broken shunts in all but two of the branches I was working on earlier. (What is a shunt? Well, I am here to report that is the name of the various sections within a strand of lights. When too many bulbs are out in a particular shunt, they can fail. This tool jump starts the connection again.)
It fixed my pre-lit garland (a blown-out shunt) and the boys helped me hang the stockings, so at least one part of the house was Christmasy before they went to bed. Coach and I pulled the burnt out bulbs and replaced them with new ones. This is a pretty tedious task due to the small wires and plastic casings. (Before the weekend was out, we replaced over 80 bulbs on the tree and garland. Apparently, not replacing bulbs decreases the life of the strand, so not changing those blinkin’ bulbs for five Christmases finally caught up with us.)
Now those two branches still needed work. Once the boys were in bed, Coach and I turned our attention toward those two branches. Did I mention they were at the bottom? Well they were, so I laid back down on the floor and went bulb by bulb. I removed it. Coach tested it. I returned it or replaced it. We easily replaced twenty bulbs on those two branched alone. And finally about 30 bulbs in, we had replaced enough that the shunt reconnected. There were still 7 or 8 bulbs out toward the end, but it was enough to work! A Christmas miracle! Take that you blinkin’ lights! You have been outdone!
Needless to say, Coach and I spent a lot of time thinking about Christmas lights this weekend, more time than we ever have before. We are pleased with our new little toy and our new-found skill of replacing bulbs in the casings. And we are poised to keep this tree working for another 5 years. But as I worked on the these strands, shunts, and bulbs, I spent some time reflecting on Christmas lights (might as well, since it was so tedious.) And I found myself thinking about those darn blinkin’ lights again during Sunday’s worship service.
Now, I don’t think that God made my Christmas tree fail, but I do think He uses even the silliest things to help us refocus our attention. And that’s exactly what happened for me. Christmas lights represent Jesus, the Light of the World. They remind us of the great gift that a tiny, helpless baby brought into the world one winter’s night. The hope of a new life. And while I’m still upset about the time we spent fixing those blinkin’ lights, I’m happy that I spent eight hours making sure the Light of the World is visible in my home, for my boys, and in my heart!
Christmas Blessings from the Light of the World to your home!