|Surfboard Decoration (HI State Law:)|
“So this is Christmas, and what have I done?”
This is what I ask myself a few dark and non-stormy nights ago. My wife and three boys sit, huddled outside our house, all tired, some miserable and one (me), bloodied and scraped, while my first annual “Christmas Lights Extravaganza” is a complete and absolute disaster!
|What? It did hurt at the time :)|
The night, actually, the day started really well. I blocked off a few hours, dusted some boxes and had fun decorating the outside of the house.
I was even smart enough to open an upstairs window, so I didn’t need to shimmy up and down the ladder every time I needed access to the patio rooftop.
Five hours later, and I was ready for The. Launch. Of. The. Lights.
Only one problem, it’s still sunny.
Boys bathe, jump in their jammies, put on their shoes and off they go with Mama to do a countdown in front of the house. I close the garage door (too bright) and only seconds from the Launch of The Lights, I scrub the mission... again, deciding the light from the downstairs toilet is also too bright.
“It’ll only be a moment,” I say, turning the handle and face-planting into the front door.
The locked front door.
Which is next to the just-closed garage.
And, below the upstairs window (which, in a moment of clarity, I’d remembered to lock.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch/sidewalk, my beloved audience waits.
I realize the awful truth: The Koopmans’s’s’’s are locked out.
For twenty minutes, I stalk the perimeter while Mama herds her Red Ninja Turtle, yellow Minion and Silver R2D2 to the chairs on the dark porch.
The boys are naturally bored, so when I come back, they're messing with some of the decorations.
"Don't play with Papa's blow-up toys," I yell out, and then wave to a passing neighbor, who suddenly picks up the pace and scurries by.
A light bulb goes off in my head (the only one I can light, apparently) and I get the (not so) brilliant idea to climb the patio roof to double check if any other windows are open.
Only two problems: Complete darkness and no ladder.
Ten minutes later, MacGyver would have been proud. With the assist from a trash can and a rickety fence, I stand, arms spread, the King of the patio roof (hoping the numerous friction burns on stomach, leg and wrist won’t bleed too much. Sadly, the mission failed: all the windows were locked.
As I position myself, stomach down, I back up until I'm straddling the roof and gutter, trying really, really hard to be the world's first VelcroMan... 'cos there's *nothing* to hold onto. Eventually, Mama's able to catch a flailing, trailing leg and position it atop the rickety fence. From there, I dismount and kiss the beautiful green grass outside home.
With no options left, I take one for the team, especially after our two-year-old tugs on my leg and says, “Help us, Papa. Help us.”
With the assist of a friendly neighbor, an emergency locksmith is called and a wait of “about an hour” begins.
I remember the whole reason behind the renamed Lockout of Lights, so to pass the time; the kids again take position on the sidewalk.
The countdown reaches zero, and I stand in the circle of lights, hands on hips, ready to receive the cheers of children and waves of adoration…
|Palm Trees hate my style|
“Uh, Papa, is the door open?”
Can we go inside now?
Feeling as deflated as the now-unplugged Charlie Brown Christmas scene (Snoopy was unfortunately culled by the children) I decide I need to end the Lockout of Lights.
|Sadly, this (from the box) is the only picture of Snoopy in airier times|
Walking the perimeter, I once more try the [redacted] and no way, the bloody thing opens!!! (Did I, perchance, use an extra ounce of frustration when trying? No, not I :)
Triumphantly, I stride to the front door and with a huge, manly smile (it’s always nice solving one’s own, dumb problems) welcome the family back inside using a weird, deep voice: "Come. Enter. Enter!"
Epilogue: The next night, I ask the boys if they want to see the additional lights that I’d placed around the shrubbery.
“Nooo!! We’re okay, Papa. We like it in here…”
Oh, and so what does this cautionary tale have to do with writing?
Don’t ever forget the key to your story!
|Merry Christmas to you and yours :)|