"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"I blew up the Christmas Tree and almost burned the house down!"

Our California house in Christmas Glory!
The new owners will never match this!

It's a beautiful day today, blue sky, white fluffy clouds, and the newscaster said it would rain...I guess if your a weather person it doesn't matter what you say! It was supposed to rain and snow last week...I didn't do that either...It hasn't snowed for 20 years and It's never snowed around Christmas. I guess that's why I always tried to create a perfect holiday since we don't even have the cold weather to add to the spirit. I can blame almost burning the house down twice to the great California weather.

(Now we are in Arizona, with no fireplace...my husband is very glad.)

But, I digress....this is the story of my quest for the perfect Christmas which pretty much exploded right along with the Christmas tree...innocently of course. That year to save money we cut our own tree and it was quite lopsided...however...we put it in a corner to disguise the misshapen limbs, then after the children and I had it all decorated, (Patrick was at a church meeting and we were going to surprise him when he got home with our beautiful decorated tree.) I decided to straighten out the crooked limbs by snipping some of the parts that stuck out with the garden sheers....(BAD decision)

Well you guessed it...I snipped through the strings of lights and when the live wires came in contact with the metal sheers all the strings of
Safely away from fireplaces and real Christmas trees in Arizona
lights and half the ornaments exploded in one horrific POP SIZZLE. Now the kids were delighted...never had they seen such a grand display of fireworks...and right inside the house...I had to open all the back windows to get the smoke and electric smell out.  and quickly loaded the kids in the car, Pajamas and all...and we drove to the Do It Center and bought new lights and several boxes of ornaments. We had the tree all re-decorated by the time Pat got home and he never knew the difference...until the kids told him about the light show!

A few years after that I almost set the house on fire. I was once again naive enough to try and come up with the perfect Rockwell moment (since we don't have snow). 

I've given up the quest for holiday perfection and I don't try that anymore, but at the time I still thought I could make it happen. Anyway, it was around five in the morning, dark and cold....unusual for December, I wanted the family to come down the stairs to see a beautiful lit tree surrounded by gifts...a fire in the fireplace with hot chocolate and warm sweet rolls set out.

Now, remember it's rarely cold enough to light a fire so we have not had many fires in the fireplace, and even then they were started by Patrick or Michael with their Eagle Scout skills put into play...But I... in my exuberance thought I had seen them do it enough to get the yule log going myself...not so...I had the flue shut! Oh I got the paper and twigs under the log blazing away, but the smoke rolled out into the living room like a thick black blanket..realizing my mistake I tried to reach in and push the handle the other way, but by now the flames were not only going...they were licking up and out of the fireplace setting the garland and some of the other decorations on the mantle, on fire.

The fire alarm went off (which usually means dinner is ready, as my cooking skills are a bit lacking) and big Pat came bounding down the stairs. He and son Michael threw water at the fire and had it out in seconds. but the black smoke had laid a thick layer of soot up the front of the fireplace and across the ceiling. All the decorations near by had melted into green and red blobs. What a mess. I was so mad at myself and could only think of having to clean up along with getting the turkey dinner on the table for the 26 people we were expecting to arrive in about 4 hours.

Without even stopping to scold myself I pulled it together and went to work with cleaner and got the soot removed immediately. I moved around some of my decorations and filled in the empty places where things had gone up in smoke. The only thing left was the smokey smell and I got rid of that by opening all the windows and doors (learned from experience) and lighting some candles. By the time Patrick came back down the stairs with a camera to record my fiasco...HA! the mess was gone! And thank goodness there was no record of my mistake to show our guests or tease me with....

Now...I must brag...One year we had the perfect outdoor display of holiday decorations. You see our house looks a bit like the Griswold's house in the movie "Christmas Vacation" (When we were done I put up a sign saying "Griswold's" and freaked out the mailman as he thought we had moved...he had never seen the movie with Chevy Chase.)

Michael, our youngest son had always wanted to put up tons of lights so I said okay...not realizing the pull of electricity would constantly flip the fuses and turn off lights everywhere in the house. We solved the problem by running electric cords from different outlets all around the place. I must have run to the hardware store ten times, not only for lights, but new extension cords...and that year the bill was outrageous...but it was worth it.

Ever since then the neighbors have tried to keep up with the extravagance even though we only put up the 60 strings of lights one time. And it was the only time my grand plans turned out okay...well almost, except for having to reset the breakers several times every evening.
Mike proud of his illumination victory in 2010



Since Michael got married and moved away, (He was my partner in Holiday illumination) I 've been cured of trying to have our holiday resemble anything close to what you see in any of the classic Christmas films...and as my decorations get faded or broken I force myself not to replace them. So each year the boxes I drag out of the loft gets smaller in number and next year I'm going to order a cooked turkey from the grocery store. Heck, the weather's great and I've got better things to do than cook!  (Like plan my next fiasco)
Patricia, daughters Colleen & Megan, grand daughter Jess...crazy decorating

Happy Christmas to All
God Bless Us Everyone