Come on and light it up, baby

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Once again, we are neck deep in all things seasonal. Of course, I'm not usually ready for Christmas until several days after the actual event has passed, but I'm in there swinging!

Of course, the rest of my family has been ready since my siblings’ children took off their Halloween costumes.

Our non-Norman-Rockwell-like family has been busily preparing for Yule. My parents chose not to hang lights outside this year as they are still paying their electric bill from their excessive lights four years ago.

Email newsletter signup

That particular year, we had so much electricity going that a new power substation had to be quickly installed to keep the lights on at the neighbors.

You know you’ve got a big hot mess of lights when people wear sunglasses to your home and it’s 10 p.m.

We also found ourselves going way overboard with a bush in the front yard when my mom decided to cover it in about 1,000 white lights. Needless to say, the more devout began arriving and removing their shoes so they could approach "The Burning Bush.&uot;

We got so slap happy with the lights that year that we ran them down the driveway and connected to my aunt and uncle’s lights.

Now that was scary. We made Chevy Chase look like an amateur.

And to think we lived nearly 7/10ths of a mile off the highway behind a forest.

From five miles away, there was an eerie glow emitting from my parent's house.

I remember one scary night when we heard the roar bearing down on us and we surely thought we were about to be swept away by God’s own thunder. We rushed out of the house to find a wayward and confused 777 jet was trying to land.

Luckily, the pilot realized his mistake and pulled up just in time to keep from clipping the life sized Santa off the roof.

There was also the time that the tourist bus pulled up and all these elderly people got off thinking they were in Vegas.

Alas, they were mistaken. No bling-bling ching-ching for them.

Now I'm not saying that we draped lights over anything that didn't move.

Everything had sharp edges and they had to be just right.

The Christmas star on the side of the house had to be perfect.

There could be no sagging lines, but rather, all had to be taunt and still.

My grandmother would get into the spirit and have us hang her lights.

She would get her home all aglow and run for cover at the slightest sound of jingling bells.

No one would ever be able to say that she was ever run over by a reindeer. However, like the song, Grammy loves her egg nog.

When I moved to Georgia, I kept my family’s Christmas knack for lighting up the home and I must say, the president of Georgia Power personally sent me a thank you note for giving them a banner year.

I had a great old house with ceilings that soared up about 20 feet.

Therefore, I needed a big tree.

It took me forever to find a tree, but finally, my roommate and I pulled a 16-foot tree into our living room and began decorating it.

Some 15 hours later, we announced it was complete and he climbed up on the extension ladder and placed an angel tree topper to watch over us all.

The tree was the hit of our Christmas party.

Ah, the ghost of Christmas past.

So here we are just a few days before Christmas and the only lights burning on Thomas Hill are from my parent’s Christmas tree, and that is only if mom remembers to plug it in.

My siblings are rushing about trying to find that last minute gift and they are stocking up on Nyquil.

Their children remain on their best behavior so as my nephew Alex would say, &uot;Santa will bring me a little sumting.&uot;

Plans are underway for the Christmas feast, while the kids are threatening to wake their parents at 3 a.m.

My brother and I did that one year and I was pretty sure when we rushed through the house yelling, that my parents wanted Santa to come get us and take us back to the North Pole with him.

Of course, my sisters and brother are prepared if the kids won't sleep. While their parents sip egg nog on Christmas Eve bemoaning the &uot;Some Assembly Required&uot; stamp, their kids will likely be sipping flavorful Nyquil smoothies as a bed-time snack.

For me, I’ll be standing at my bedroom window late on Christmas Eve, the house will be dark and I’ll look out on a cold winter’s night.

I’ll look at the bright Christmas star and realize that what I might believe has changed since I was young, yet my faith has not.

I’ll breathe out and watch my breath turn to white mist in the cold night air and I’ll feel the peace and joy of the season.

And I will have found Christmas once more.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Jay Thomas is managing editor of the Greenville Advocate and can be reached at 383-9203, ext. 136 or via email at