Remember that beautiful artificial pre-lit Christmas tree and how easy and quick it was with only a few steps to set it up? Flash forward seven years, when most of the lights have given it up — what do you do with it?
Well, I am a bit stubborn. I hate the idea of throwing a tree into the landfill, not to mention shelling out the money for a new one. I have been supplementing the burned out sections with extra strings of lights for two or three years, but this year there was only one small section still shining. It is hard enough to make sure I’ve located and connected all the hidden plugs on the tree, it is way beyond me to try a fresh bulb in every socket to find the ones that have burnt out.
So, I went to war. Armed with kitchen shears, I pulled the tree down into my lap on the sofa and began unraveling wires. My first discovery was that the end of each branch had a tough plastic clamp to hold the outermost bulb in place. The only way to get it loose was to cut off the light and slide the wires out of the clamp. Then came the laborious task of winding backwards down each individual rubber twig, following the path in and out and around. It is amazing how securely these wires are hidden along the branches. I can’t imagine it was done by a machine, and it had to be accomplished after the entire tree was constructed. Some poor soul must spend all day in a tree factory laboriously binding shackles onto fake tree branches.
I almost gave up in exasperation several times, but after seven hours of determined effort, I stuffed all the snippets of wire and light bulbs into a bag and stepped back to examine the nude tree. My husband thinks I am nuts. I feel like the victor in a long, hard-won battle. When I hang newly-purchased replacement lights on the tree today, the star on top will be my victory flag and I will feel a thrill of accomplishment every time I stop to admire it.
I do have surprising battle scars. Handling real evergreens always gives me a rash where the needles poke me, but I was quite surprised to find that this plastic tree also left me with burning red spots up and down my arms. They are still present the morning after, but I feel I earned them and they make the victory all the more sweet.