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Musing: The Night The Lights Went Out In Asheville
Our neighborhood is a winter wonderland, with Christmas decorations adorning nearly every house. Santas and reindeer congregate on lawns, bows and ribbons adorn shrubbery, ornaments sway in the breeze, and wreaths hang on front doors and windows.
As day turns to night, lights come ablaze, twinkling and sparkling as they are strung up on houses, draped over bushes, and wrapped around tree trunks. The magic of the holiday season comes alive as the neighborhood transforms. A steady stream of visitors from around the area come to see the dazzling displays.
We love it. After years of living at the end of a dirt road on the top of the mountain with nary a visitor in sight, we embrace the camaraderie of the season. Our own yard reflects our enthusiasm.
Reindeer pulling a sleigh glow from a myriad of lights. An airplane has its wings and fuselage outlined in twinkling beacons. Signs flash their greetings. Sparkling trees flank the front door. The entire front of the house is illuminated, highlighting the wreaths hanging from every window.
The centerpiece is dedicated to one of my favorite Christmas cartoons. Max the dog dutifully stands beside the Grinch as he pulls a string of lights from a Christmas tree. Cindy Lou Who glows in her innocence, unperturbed by the impending disaster.
Maybe a little over the top, but we are far from the most decorated house in the neighborhood. My heart fills with joy as people drive slowly through the neighborhood admiring all our efforts. It’s truly a spectacular sight, and the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season.
As the sun set Thursday evening, the timer clicked and the yard came aglow with a dazzling array of Christmas lights, chasing away the encroaching shadows of dusk. I smiled at the brilliant blues, radiant reds, and glistening greens. Even the driving rain and drifting fog couldn’t dampen my spirits.
Twenty minutes later, my yard went dark. All around me, my neighbors’ houses still glowed, but we didn’t have a speck of brightness.
I checked the circuit breakers, but they were fine. We knew the demands of everything we had installed, and the total electrical draw wasn’t anywhere close to the limit.
I stepped outside into the rain to verify that the plug was still inserted into the outlet, but it was securely in place. I then inspected the outlet itself, and to my dismay, I discovered that the GFCI had tripped. I quickly reset it, but as soon as I did, the lights flickered on and then went dead again.
It was clear that somewhere, in the yards and yards of extension cords and strategically placed outlets, water had seeped in and caused a failure. Every piece of equipment was rated for outdoor use, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned.
But then wisdom came. Addressing an electrical problem in the dark on a rainy night was a recipe for disaster.
Besides, I reasoned, who would be out on such a dreary night? No one would notice if we didn’t participate just this once.
And with that, I went back inside, grateful for the realization that sometimes it’s better to just let things go. I poured myself a glass of wine and settled down with a good book, content to let the rain and darkness continue outside.
The next day, with drier weather, good visibility, and proper tools, we began testing. The outlet itself worked as it should. The timer passed with flying colors. Extension cords were all in good condition.
We then moved on to each individual display until we finally found the issue. A single strand of LED lights had suffered a water breach, causing the entire display to fail. A simple fix and we were back in business.
I was thrilled the problem was so easily resolved and that we were functioning for the approaching weekend. Good thing it happened on a nasty night without anyone noticing.
So we thought.
As we were walking our dogs through the neighborhood a short while later, a neighbor commented, “We love the Grinch, but he was dark last night,”
Oops. We sheepishly explained the situation, and our neighbor laughed it off. His display is astonishing, and he understood the challenge.
But we couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed that our lights had failed, even if it was only for one night. After all, we wanted to avoid being known as the Grinch of the neighborhood.
Enjoyed the Story? Try a Novel
If you enjoyed today’s musing, please consider reading one of my novels. Each standalone book tells the story of big lives in a small town, ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges.
Gratuitous Dog Photo: Landon On The Good List
Landon heard rumor that someone is watching and keeping a list of who’s been naughty or nice, so he’s taking no chances. If only he can remain still for the next two weeks, he’ll be on the good list. Don’t worry, though, I have presents for every canine already.
On The Website This Week
A reader suggested I try Joy Fielding’s The Housekeeper and I’m so thankful. I enjoyed this tale of a seemingly perfect housekeeper who has some dark secrets. Read my summary of the book here.
Spectacular Vernacular Word of the Week: As fall dwindles to winter and then the days start getting longer until spring, you might think the evanescent seasons come quickly.
With the holiday season upon us, you may be planning to gift or serve fruitcake. You might want to see what my readers thought about it in last month’s survey results.
In this month’s survey, I’m asking if you are a morning or evening person. Take the quick survey here and I’ll share the results next month.
Until Next Monday
May your lights keep burning brightly and the spirit of the festive season warm your days. Whatever holiday you celebrate, enjoy this glorious time of year.
See you next Monday.
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