Lighting up the holidays

What color lights should be on the Christmas tree? It is an ongoing debate in our household every holiday season.


My wife would love to see our tree adorned with all-white lights as they give off a sense of elegance and sophistication. And she’s not wrong by any means. My lights of choice, however, are multi-colored ones. 

Each year we put it to a vote to see what the family wants to have. So far, the kids have voted for colored. And not just any set of multi-colored lights. 

For more years than I can remember, I have pulled out a set of programmable lights that have a variety of settings. I think I bought them 15 or 20 years ago, so they have certainly been a good return on investment. 

Some settings range from a peaceful soft twinkle or alternating phases of red, blue, green and orange. Other settings resemble something one might find at a Las Vegas casino as they rapidly flash from one color to the next in a variety of pulsating manners.

Sadly, it seems that these lights have finally reached their expiration point. I should have been suspicious when we started decorating the tree a few weeks back. The lights always go on first, and when I finally untangled the messy spider web of wires that I was sure I so carefully put away last year, I noticed something odd. None of the blue lights were working. 

Carefully going through and checking every single bulb for a loose connection, the lights suddenly sprang to life. Hooray! Upon further checking for any burned out bulbs, I noticed a trend that it was almost always a blue bulb that was the culprit. Rarely was it the red or green or yellow. Just blue.

Pushing that oddity aside, my youngest daughter and I quickly placed the lights and finished decorating the tree in order to marvel at our work.

Flash forward to this week and my daughter says to me “the blue lights stopped working again.” What?! Sure enough, upon closer inspection all of the blue lights were out. Since it was next to impossible to remove the lights with the tree fully decorated, I decided to live with the fact that the blues were just gone. Hey, nobody wants a “Blue Christmas” anyway, right?

A couple of days later, things started getting weirder as now all of the programmable lights started going off intermittently. It doesn’t happen all the time, nor do they remain off permanently. I am no electrician but have tinkered enough to know this tells me there is a short somewhere in the line and that my beloved lights have finally seen their last Christmas.

There are other lights on the tree, so it is not completely dark, but it certainly does not have that dazzling “wow” effect it has always had. This weekend I will forage through the tub of lights we have in the basement to see if I can come up with some more to add.

Next year, however, it will be time for a new set. Or perhaps it was all part of my wife’s plan to get the white lights she has so long wanted next Christmas?

Joseph Cyr is the assistant editor of the Houlton Pioneer Times, The Star-Herald, Aroostook Republican and News and the St. John Valley Times. He can be reached at jcyr@bangordailynews.com.

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