Putting the lights on is by far the worst part about the tree. Well, taking them off is probably the worst part, but in any case, the lights suck.
Nonetheless, there can be no Christmas tree without lights. So during Jack's morning nap, I began.
Charlie was in there with me, contributing to the efficiency of the whole project by getting under my feet and tripping me up as I wound my way around the tree.
I plugged each strand in before I put it on the tree to make sure it worked. All went well with the top of the tree, but then two strands in, I remembered that we have two strands with smaller bulbs and two strands with bigger bulbs. And I had put the two with the smaller bulbs at the top of the tree. It would have been better to alternate the sizes, so it wasn't tiny bulbs on top and bigger bulbs on bottom, but too late for that. Onward.
After about fifteen prickly, sticky minutes, I had four strands of lights on the tree. I ended on the side opposite the electric outlet, so I had to pull the power strip and its cord across the front of the tree to plug the lights in, but eh. Good enough.
"Okay, Charlie!" I said. "I'm done! Let's turn it on and see how they look!"
So I turned them on for the big finish and . . . one of the strands was only half working. Actually, it was about a third working. The bulbs on either end of it were working, but a section in the middle wasn't. And of course--OF COURSE--that section was smack in the middle front of the tree.
I got out some extra bulbs and tried replacing some of the malfunctioning ones. The bottom half of the strand started inexplicably blinking, but the unlit ones stayed unlit.
"I don't like the blinking ones, Mommy," said Charlie.
Me neither, Charlie. Migraine-inducing, for sure.
So I pulled the whole strand off, thinking I would replace it with a random strand of all-white lights we had in the box. Except that the all-white strand only had a plug to plug in on one side; it didn't have the receiver plug thing on the other to hook it with the rest of the lights. Ooookay.
So then I thought I could just plug it in by itself in the power strip and kind of zig-zag it across the front of the tree to fill in some of the empty spots and blend in with the multi-colored lights.
This all sounds much more calm and reasonable than I was feeling at the time, by the way. My internal monologue was much more profane and stressed out. Especially when I got halfway through putting the white strand on the tree and it suddenly stopped working.
FINE. FINE, LIGHTS. YOU WIN.
I pulled off the white ones, pulled the already-draped strands of multi-colored lights around until they mostly covered the tree, and gave up.
But I was not entirely defeated yet! No!
At around 4 p.m., it was pretty dark so I told Charlie we could turn the Christmas tree lights on. Jack was with us, so he came into the parlor too. I turned them on and then had the brilliant idea of using the partially-working strand to fill in a little, making sure that the non-working lights were in the back by the wall.
So I started re-stringing lights, this time with both Charlie and Jack crawling around my feet.
The whole strand stopped working. I replaced a random bulb and it was back to partially working. I kept on stringing it around and it miraculously ALL STARTED WORKING.
Perhaps our lights are possessed? I do not know. But they're on the tree. And when Cubby came home and saw the lit-up tree, he got all open-mouthed with wonder and said in a hushed voice, "Oh Mama. It's beautiful."
Yeah, it is. Wonky lights and all.