November 29, 2006 Edition

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The great 'decorating' adventure

Gretchen Hunt

From year to year, depending on the weather and my energy level, I decide how much to decorate the outside of our home.

A couple of years I have skipped the process altogether, but most years I at least put some greenery and lights on my front porch.

This year, Conley is three and is already looking forward to all aspects of the holiday season (especially presents). So, I decided putting out Christmas lights would be a great "Mommy and Me" activity.

My niece, Elizabeth, was also in town, so I invited her to come over and help with the decorating, as well.

I had been to an auction on Thanksgiving night and bought a stack of Christmas lights in various shapes, sizes and colors, so I set about deciding how to use the different colors on the different types of bushes.

Once I had a game plan, we set about stringing the lights. Conley and Liz made it through one of about 25 bushes in the front landscaping of the house. Then, they lost interest. They played on the swing set in the back yard, then went inside and played for a while.

Every now and then they would wander back to where I was working and tell me it looked pretty. I would ask if they wanted to help decorate, and they would say, "yes," but quickly disappear again.

I had just finished hanging my last strand of lights when the kids popped their heads back out of the front door. It was just hitting dusk, so the lights were twinkling beautifully. I called them out in the front yard to see what they thought.

They stood and oohed and aahhed about how pretty the lights were, and then Conley turned to me and said, "OK, when do we decorate?"

I realized that semantics had gotten me in trouble. To Conley and Liz, when you decorate something it means to hang ornaments, like when we decorated the Christmas tree at their grandparents' house on Thanksgiving.

Now that the lights were finally done, they were ready to start decorating. While there are several dogs in the neighborhood who probably would have enjoyed chewing on any ornaments we might have hung from the bushes, I managed to convince the kids that the lights were what we used to decorate the outside bushes and trees, and we'd have to save the ornaments for the tree we still had to put up in the living room.

Monday evening, Conley couldn't wait to show off the lights to his grandma. "Grandma, you have to see the lights I put up," he said. Mom and I shared a chuckle as she had already heard the story of the great "decorating" adventure and knew that his light hanging experience was actually quite limited.

But, as we stood in front of the house, she oohed and aahhed and told Conley he did a wonderful job. His face glowed as bright as the lights twinkling in the bushes.

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