Being so far from friends and family, I find it hard to get into the Christmas spirit.
Suddenly on the 24th of December, I was overwhelmed with the urge to decorate – less to do with sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot, more to do with it being my last chance to buy pretty lights. Our campsite was miles from anywhere and a later change of heart on Christmas Eve would not be appreciated by himself.
Normally she who hesitates is lost but Jimmy sensed the battle raging in my tiny mind and nudged me into action. “Go on. See if they have any lights left.” It doesn’t take much to convince me to shop.
Wal-Mart had hundreds of strings of lights left. As I fretted about the oversupply of cheap merchandize, waste, want and greed, I reduced the U.S. problem of overstocking by picking up two strings of 100 lights each, a nasty, scrawny, fake wreath and a big red bow – total purchase – $8.00.
As we drove “home” to our ocean front campsite at Hunting Island, South Carolina,
I strategized best use of my meager haul – two 23-foot strings of lights and a wreath best viewed from a distance. I would wrap the wreath with one string of lights disguising its hideousness, hang it centrally on the awning which was furled up against the trailer and drape the other lights across and down either side. It would look wonderful.
I manhandled a fistful of bulbs round and through the sad little wreath, mangled the red bow into place and attached a twist tie. With “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” rockin’ around in my skull as it had been ever since the morning when himself had put the CD on to cheer me up, I stepped outside to find that a) it had got dark, and b) the top of the awning was completely out of reach.
In times of crisis, when I am about to plummet into misery, Jimmy comes through and suggested he back the car up to the trailer so I could stand on the tailgate.
The previous day, Jimmy had zigzagged the trailer back between awkwardly positioned pine trees and abandoned it in the woods. Now he had to back the car in the dark through the same trees, picnic tables and numerous pieces of lawn furniture, bringing the car at a 45° angle to the center of the awning so I could step on to the rear quarter bumper. The bumper needed to be within six inches of the trailer.
I needed to be behind the car to guide Jimmy in – either between the car and the trailer for precision signaling, or standing off to the side for safety. The former seemed the better option for marital harmony as the accelerator on the automatic gearbox has a kind of all or nothing touch and visions of, not sugar plums, but a bashed in trailer danced in my head.
With minimal screaming, the car was maneuvered into place and Jimmy heaved me up onto the bumper with my hands full of wreath and lights. Arms stretched up to fullest extent and holding the wreath in place, I attempted to attach the wreath to a canvas strap on the awning, using one hand for the twist tie. Put a plastic bag on a table and try to twist tie it closed with one hand and you will grasp (or not) my predicament.
Much grunting and sighing on my part and stoicism on Jimmy’s part got the fortunately lightweight wreath tied to the awning. It only remained to drape the attached lights over the awning. Jimmy offered to back the car twice more to each end of the awning but my nerves were shot from the first backing episode and my holiday spirit was waning. I wasn’t willing to risk damage to the bodywork of the trailer for the thrill of some cheap twinkle lights. His caramel chocolate bar Christmas Eve present wouldn’t make up for a big dent.
We improvised by using the awning hook to try to thrust the lights into place, but try as we might the lights just wouldn’t stay up. Neither of us could reach to tie the lights up. I couldn’t see what I was doing anyway and it was getting late.
The lights hung dejectedly from the dumb wreath in a stupid twinkling puddle on the ground.
I took it all down, the scraggy wreath was stripped of its lights and hung back up while the car was still acting as a step stool.
As I wound the lights up, I cautioned Jimmy, “Be careful of that fire ring” – a three foot across, eight inch high steel ring and barbeque grill.
“What fire ring?”
Well wouldn’t that have just made it a Merry Christmas if he had run over it and burst a tire?
It was right in front of the car and I don’t know how he backed the car into position without seeing it in the first place.