Still no flicker.
That's not it, so replace the old one and move on to the next one.
Pull it out, and put a new one in. Still no glow.
How many is that? Fa-la-la-fifty?
If you've ever re-used a strand of last year's Christmas lights, then you know what I'm doing here. Actually, if you re-use Christmas lights, you may have someone reading this to you right now because you're still doing what I'm doing here.
Take a deep, calming breath. Replace the old one, move to the next one. Pull it out, put a new one in. Still no shine.
Ah, those wonderful Christmas traditions. Playing holiday music while trimming the tree, making sugar cookies, sending cards to far-away family, sharing hot cocoa with the kids, watching It's a Wonderful Life and crying like a baby, wrapping presents and never cutting the paper quite large enough to cover everything.
...Finding the one festive bulb on a million-bulb strand that's burned out.
Deck those halls! Ring those bells! Nog those eggs!
Talk about holiday stress. There stands the noble (though artificial) fir tree, naked. The children are holding their favorite ornaments and tapping their feet — and if you take too long, they're sure to start tapping each other's feet and throwing ornaments around the room.
It's a test, see. You're testing the lights, and the lights are testing you. It's a karmic metaphor, telling you things like "Hurry up and wait," or "Patience has its rewards." It's the Spirit of Christmas Past reminding you, "Quitters never win. Winners never quit."
Pull one out, and put a new one in. Still no sparkle.
"Never give up," the lights are saying. "Good things come to those who re-use their lights."
It's Christmas Zen, man. Give your energy to the strand, and the strand will give energy to you.
Replace the old one and move on to the next one. Pull it out, and put a new one in. Still no twinkle.
Note to myself for next Christmas: Buy a new strand.
(The preceding was my Undercurrents column for Dec. 23, 2001. It is part of my column collection, "Dazed and Raving in the Undercurrents.")