Let down by the promise of the pre-lit

Am I alone in feeling betrayed by the promise of pre-lit Christmas decor? I once bought what I believed to be the perfect Christmas tree. Its stems wrapped in 500 lights promised to make my life oh-so-easy each year. By year two, only some of the lights lit, and we began stringing additional lights around them. It was the only solution, as they were hard to troubleshoot, wrapped as they were around branches. When year three arrived, I spent what seemed like hours carefully clipping the now-dark strings from boughs just to save the tree I’d come to love. And my hands were a mess!

The tree fared better than the pre-lit deer that’s been in storage for five years. It was glorious for the first year, but that’s as far as it went. Its lights also have to come off, and they’re not easily replaced. The glitter-covered metal wires aren’t easy to work around either, and so each year I just put it off a little longer.

Why did I expect anything different? Most of my holiday lights peter out somewhere towards the end of season two, regardless of how much I spend, what brand I buy, and whether they’re attached. The lost investment of time is as irritating as the hard dollar costs. I have a lot of opinions about lights, so purchasing isn’t a breeze. Are the multicolored strands pink enough, or would they be too blue? Are the white strands a warm white? Do they blink or do they twinkle? They should twinkle, as if fairy dust and Christmas magic created random sparkles in the night. You see how it is, right?

This year, I pulled out three strings of twinkling, colorful, high-end outdoor lighting to find that every strand had sections that wouldn’t light. “It must be me,” I thought. I simply lack the light maintenance skills needed. Well, “No more!” I vowed, This time would be different. I broke out the Lightkeeper Pro and went to work.

After about an hour testing bulbs and sockets, matters were worse. More segments had given up the ghost. The Lightkeeper Pro had just prolonged my suffering. I hadn’t even begun to move on to the white lights I string on trellises each year, which were also out of commission. This light maintenance business could be a legitimate job.

I had to ask myself: “Could this be the year to lower expectations?” “Yes,” I thought. Yes. I went online and bought 5 sets of brightly-colored $5 lights from Target, and decided to toss my 2019 investment. The new lights arrived in three days, and every light lit up. They twinkle, and the color is fine. I abandoned my trellises and decided I simply didn’t need them this year, so I would forego the white lights.

I survey the glow each night when I walk the big dog Cooper, and I have to admit that this year’s results aren’t quite what they’ve been in years past. But I’ve decided it is fine. I was able to make it all happen in a short amount of time, with little mental energy. That’s the beauty of not having pre-lit items. I can be flexible from year to year. I do think the front lawn needs another item, and maybe next year I’ll get around to rehabbing the deer. He also has an antler that needs soldering, but since metal shop was my favorite class in middle school, and I do own a soldering iron, I can’t wait to fix that part! Just as soon as those darn lights are off…

In the meantime, I’m appreciating some of the decor that doesn’t light. The dove in the picture above is my favorite this year. It opens, and has a small compartment inside. At the end of last season, I stowed away a small piece of paper with the year’s best Christmas memories. My life was so different then! Before hanging the ornament this year, I opened the paper and got to relive the joy of those memories of last season. If you’re looking for a new holiday tradition, this one is wonderful. And you never have to change the bulbs.

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