January 15th, 2021

‘Tis the season to get lit

By Lethbridge Herald on December 8, 2017.

Al Beeber

Lethbridge Herald


’Tis the season to be merry — for theoretically most of us in southern Alberta. Christmas can be a time of joy for those who have their health, supportive families, rewarding careers and homes to return to every night.
It’s a season when people become friendlier, kinder and more willing to help the less fortunate in the world. And it’s a season for people to show the festive spirit by lighting up their homes with spectacular displays of colour.
For years in my neighbourhood, I didn’t let anybody outdo me in the lighting department. I strung lights along the fences, through the shrubs, up and down doorway pillars, and through the railings on my deck staircase.
I even climbed up the roof to string them along the edges of the rain gutters to create an even more impressive display. That ritual ended when I got stuck up on the roof once, too afraid to move because of ice on the shingles, my rescue coming only when a neighbour climbed my ladder and threw me an edging tool to chop away enough ice so I could safely negotiate my way to safety instead of taking a quick two-storey shortcut.
A young electrician recently told me about LED light strips that can be installed permanently on roofs and operated via remote control, which seems to me a pretty handy way of showing the Christmas spirit. Apparently, the colours can also be changed so a person could celebrate different occasions throughout the year, like a Toronto Maple Leaf Stanley Cup next spring, or an Edmonton Eskimo Grey Cup next November. Or in about 30 years, a Chicago Bears Super Bowl. I saw a house in Riverstone that looks like it has such LED lights while walking my dogs early last weekend and the effect is absolutely stunning.
So for next year, getting those lights installed will be a priority. In the meantime, after seeing the dazzling displays on my nightly sniff-and-pee sessions (the dogs, not me in case you’re wondering) I’m trying to come up with creative ways of keeping up with the neighbours.
I’ve tried a couple of different things but having a streetlight in front of my house — which along with a German Shepherd, seems to be a pretty good deterrent to car prowlers — definitely presents challenges for creating a truly brilliant Christmas display.
But I’m not giving up. I have become truly inspired while waiting endlessly for the dogs to lift their noses from whatever blade of grass or tire — my labrador loves tires — forever grabs their attention and leg. And I’m determined that by the time Christmas arrives, my house is going to stand up with the best of them.
That means making a few more trips to hardware stores to get the lights I need to make the impression my rose bed did every summer before I dug it up and filled the space with sod last spring.
And being as easily distracted as the dogs sometimes, I’m committing myself to focus where I park so I don’t wander aimlessly through a mall parking lot as happened a couple of years ago one early morning when a young mother with several children in tow yelled at me “I don’t have any change” before running like she’d come across a grizzly toward the safety of Walmart’s doors.
Granted, I hadn’t shaved for two days and was wearing a ratty version of what was known in Northern Ontario as a Kenora dinner jacket after walking the dogs, so I know I didn’t make the greatest impression. But as I told a guy who was also walking toward the store, if I needed spare change I could get a handful from the floor of my truck — if i could only find the bloody thing! Which was parked nowhere near where I was looking.
So as I embark on my quest for Christmas light supremacy, I’m taking photos of my truck where I park it this year and hopefully won’t start shooting just as the same mom with kids walks by lest she think I’m a voyeur or something. I definitely don’t need that kind of drama again.
I don’t know if I’ll prevail in my pursuit for neighbourhood domination but my electricity bill will definitely prove I tried.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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