It is amazing how fast time speeds by as a relentless wave pausing for no one. Just 11 short months ago I remembered hauling the large canvas bag down to the basement and shoving it on top of the other boxes of Christmas decorations. It did not seem that long ago and yet today, there I was tugging at this bag to pull it off its perch and return once more to the living room with it in tow. As I pulled it off the boxes, it occurred to me this large bag was heavier than I remembered. I strained to drag it to the bottom of the basement steps while thinking, "This tree seemed easier to move when it was in the cardboard box."

Unfortunately that box was history last year. There was not enough duct tape in the world to keep it together and hence the bag. While it seemed a good idea at the time and was easy to get down the steps, it was another story moving the bag up the stairs. Katie helped me move it and we chuckled as we struggled when I quipped, "I bet a body would be lighter than this tree." Heck, a bagful of bowling balls in my imagination would be lighter than the tree.

We finally made it to the living room and opened the bag and inside was? A tree of course, a tree in three parts. Long ago we gave up adding lights to the tree separately in favor of a tree that was pre-strung. Each year we now hold our breath when we set it up hoping the lights would go on again for another season. We put the first section in the base and our worst fear was realized. Half the lights were out.

Now it became a hunt to find the bulb that was the culprit. Katie and I divided the tree and searched for the misfit, that burned out bulb. Of course the tree manufacturer claimed that one burned out bulb would not put out the strand, but this tree seemed to want to be the exception. After five minutes of testing and searching to no avail, we attempted to twist the bottom section in the stand and just like that, the remaining lights lit up the boughs. We decided to not question fate as we assembled the other two sections and worked on getting the tree balanced so it would be straight and not leaning too far in any direction.

We fluffed up the branches and realized that last year when we purchased a new set of ornaments during the after-holiday clearance sales, we decided to defer garland until this year. As it turned out, we forgot that detail until we brought the ornaments out to decorate the tree. Fortunately, a quick trip to the Dollar Store resolved the garland issue and the tree trimming began. Soon the tree was decked out in our new garland and ornaments and in the end was a wonderful addition to the living room indicating that we were one step closer to the 2012 Christmas season.

Another necessary evil is hanging the Christmas lights. I have lived in a house for 18 years and of all those seasons, I believe I only beat the cold weather to the front porch one time. Most years I was hanging lights in the dark in the bitter cold. The good part of doing that is one can see instantly how things will look. The bad part is that one tends to lose all feeling to their fingers for a week or two. Well, maybe not that long, but it can definitely be felt and it only gets worse as we get older.

This year was going to be different. This year we would beat the cold weather. This year would be the good one. It reminded me of the opening to "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving". The scene with Lucy, Charlie and the football. He rationalized that he would kick the ball this time. Lucy would not interfere with his resolve. Of course, we all know that Lucy behaved predictably and Charlie ended the scene flat on his back with an "UGH!" Same thing happened lightwise. I planned to hang them on Friday when the sun was out and the temperature was in the 40s. Unfortunately out trip to Bethlehem to get a Christmas photo that was supposed to last only an hour or two turned out taking most of the day. By the time we got home, it was dark.

We decided that even though it was supposed to rain overnight, the weatherman said it would be partly sunny Saturday afternoon. Obviously he was not aware of my grand plans either and then true to form Saturday brought with it cold winds and flurries. Lots of flurries. Katie and I were able to get half the lights on the porch before the bitter wind drove us back into the warm safety of our living room with a vow to continue on Sunday. When Sunday arrived, we kept our vow and finished hanging the lights up on the porch and were somewhat satisfied with the overall results.

Of course according to the weather man, this weekend is supposed to reach 50. If you do not have your lights out yet, this might be your best opportunity to beat the freezing cold. Granted thanks to last year's non-winter, our low temperatures probably feel much colder since it has been a long time since something comparable hit our area. Since my lights are hung already, I'm certain this weekend will produce a warm setting for procrastinators.

Til next timeā€¦