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For Our Christmas Decorations, It’s No Cakewalk

Dec 21st, 2012 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

Christmas time is here. I made my annual sojourn into the attic to bring down 17 boxes of holiday decorations, remedy ornaments, nativity scenes, miniature Christmas trees, stuffed animals, wrapping paper, lights, cookie jars, nutcrackers, and miscellaneous holiday paraphernalia. And there is a rumor that a box is missing. Oh, the horror. I will soon have to replace the piece of drywall that serves as a “door” to the attic. I’ve chipped the edges too many times over the years, and even cardboard and masking tape can’t keep the warm air from escaping up through the cracks and fissures.

We have a small house — 1,400 square feet — so in that week or so when the decorations and ornaments are finding a temporary home, it’s like “Macy’s Meets Storage Wars” in the living room, dining room and hallways. Right now there are at least nine nutcrackers on the dining room table guarding an empty snowman cookie jar. My daughter ate breakfast on a stool by the dishwasher yesterday. As you might guess, someone in this house has a fixation with nutcrackers. The one we’ve had the longest, a tall blue-and-red model, lost his right arm in a freak accident three years ago but no one has the heart to tell him it can’t be reattached. Last year it was held on with a rubber band. This year it’s just propped against his side. The sad thing is it’s the staff-holding arm (or whatever that is he’s holding). I just noticed he also has a few jewels missing from his crown. A tour-of-duty in this household is no cakewalk.

The exterior lights are my area, of course. I don’t go all crazy. Nothing is synchronized to Manheim Steamroller or Metallica. I don’t like high places so lights on the roof are a fair distance from the edge. This year I got to fight with the porch light fixture for a couple of hours (where about 17 extension cords are either plugged into or lead to). I even had to shut down power to that section of the house temporarily. There’s that moment when you’re thinking, “Maybe if I just wiggle this wire,” that you wonder how long you’ll lie under the rhododendron before someone wanders outside to ask for a ride somewhere and discovers your twitching form.

I’m only halfway done with the exterior decorations. There are inflatables – a snowman and either Tigger or Winnie-the-Pooh. One of them lost its ability to retain air last year and I don’t yet remember which one it was. The problem is that we’ve had some warm weeks this fall so the lawn needs to be mowed one last time before I set them up. I killed the lawnmower in late summer of course, so I’ve been borrowing the neighbors’, and now I may have killed theirs too because it only lasted three trips around the outside edge before it died and wouldn’t restart. So, plan C?

I see those houses that look like they should be on a magazine cover. You know what I think? I think they’re subcontracting the work. I think there are contractors who go around in October, leaving flyers on doorknobs, advertising their holiday light services. It’s just like the perfectly-manicured lawns you see – no one could do that good of a job without being paid.

Come to think of it, that’s a great seasonal business idea. You could even sell the lights at marked-up prices. Hmmm …

I hope those of you in the industry have a few hours sometime this holiday season to sit down with loved ones and throw back a few eggnogs. We know how it works — the big snow hits and you’re on the road 24/7, and those two new drivers you just trained decide they don’t like being cold, wet and tired, so they call you to tell you they “found something else.” Batteries to be jumped, tires to be changed, cars to be unlocked at the mall, Uncle Phil drove the rental onto the frozen lake and found a weak spot in the ice — typical winter work. I hope that when you have to put chains on your truck, you’re inside a nice, warm shop instead of a blizzard. But most of all, my Christmas wish for you is that you return at the end of every 14-hour shift safe and sound, all extremities functioning and intact, truck and equipment unscathed (except maybe you need to replace or add a few things you can find on our website) and maybe a few dollars in the pocket for your trouble.

Have a safe and merry week.

Nick Kemper