This home on Rockheights Drive is one of many decorated around Esquimalt this year. To help find some of the more impressive displays, the Township launched its first-ever online Christmas lights map this month. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Odd Thoughts column: Joy interpreted through muted colour

I hope the Christmas lights illuminate the first time they are plugged in.

I’ve been stringing this year’s Christmas lights.

This is always a joyous time of year – a time of exploring new and colourful ways to express ourselves. The lights in our artistic arsenal are mostly red, green, and yellow. The words I fire under my breath are mostly blue.

The language I needed to get me though the task of stringing Christmas lights didn’t used to be so subdued. For some reason, grandchildren seem to have muted the shades from that robust royal blue to something more reminiscent of a robin’s egg.

I can remember when a loudly expostulated “My goodness!” or “Goodness gracious!” just didn’t cut it. Even “For goodness sake!” wasn’t able to mitigate a useful amount of frustration, regardless of volume or bass-line growl.

But the need for expletive interpretation of this part of the annual Christmas story doesn’t seem to have changed much.

There’s still the tree.

Consequent to the discovery of an allergy to pine sap within the family circle, the tree has been coming out of a box for years now.

You’d think that hauling a cardboard box out of the attic wouldn’t be as burdensome a chore as traipsing through the woods at the back of the farm, hunting for the “perfect” fir sapling, often knee-deep in snow, more often burdened by a heavy mackinaw jacket growing heavier under the absorptive weight of incessant cold rain.

I grew up in the Alberni Valley.

I’m sure there were years when the sun was shining brightly and the forest wall reflected an unseasonable warmth.

There had to be times when the tree was easy to find, and it truly was perfect.

But I don’t remember those times… just as I don’t remember any time in more recent years when the fake tree slid easily out of the attic and came together on the stand without serious incident – a pinched finger, a smashed elbow, an eye nearly poked out of its socket, a plastic fir needle embedded in the back of my heel… every year, I venture into that dark place above us in anticipation of a new adventure.

And I’m sure that, at least once in all those years of interpreting the joy of Christmas for the wonderment of visitors and passersby, all the lights lit up the first time I plugged them in.

Surely, at least once!

Well… maybe next year, then.

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