Saturday, November 29, 2008

Decking the Halls

It's that time of year again. Time to transform the Veasey Ranch from the fall decor to the Christmas decorations. This is not an easy transformation, and it is most definitely not a one day project.

First step is the putting away of the fall stuff. Various candles, artificial flowers, window displays, yard displays, nick-knacks, and more need to be gathered up, packed up, and put away.

Next comes the cleanup. A little dusting, wiping, window cleaning and, worst of all, gutter cleaning. Yuck. I have not moved into the 21st century as yet. The Veasey Ranch has not advanced to those 'protected' or 'covered' type gutters. Ours are still exposed, and we are surrounded on all sides by massive trees that dump innumerable leaves onto the yard and into the gutters.

Step one in this particular project is to get the right weather day. I will not do this on a wet, rainy day or on a day that is too cold. I am either a wimp, or a procrastinator looking for an excuse, or both. Unfortunately, today is a nearly perfect weather day, so step one is complete.

Second step involved walking across the street and borrowing my neighbor Nick Zecca's huge ladder. He has one of those enormous extension things that is a bear to maneuver, but that enables me to safely reach the gutters at their highest points. So I trek across and bum the ladder.

And now the fun part, alighting the ladder and getting my hands dirty, pulling all those leaves and muck out of the gutters. It takes about ten moves of the ladder all around the house, and so twice that many trips up and down, over a period of about an hour or so.

Once the gutters are cleaned out, there comes the blowing of the leaves. The old leaf blower comes out, the leaves get blown into manageable piles, and then the concrete walks and patio get a little hosing down for their own cleanup.

Finally, fall has been shoved aside and tucked away, and the actual putting up of the Christmas decorations can begin in earnest. We have our traditional display of bright white 'icicle' lights that string across the top of the front of the house.


This requires yet another climbing of Nick's giant ladder, this time actually moving on to the roof of the house. It is my semi-annual trip to the highest points of my house, the second coming when I take down these lights in early January.

This year will require a prior step: purchasing new lights. We noticed last year that the old ones were getting, well, old. Strings were not lighting, or were flickering. Time to put out a little cash for some newbies. The lights will be strung across the roof, and then the lawn comes.

We have a couple of deer and a Christmas tree that match the white lights, but the tree may need replacing this year as well. A couple of Christmas bears add a splash of lighted color thanks to a red candy cane they hold.

Of course all of this is linked by a number of extension chords that I have to sort out each year. No matter how well I put this stuff away, it always seems that there is a lot of sorting and untangling to be done every year.

All that is just to get the outside done, so now the operation moves to the inside. Debbie usually does the front window while this outside operation is happening, so now comes the breaking out of the various boxes and large plastic storage bins. These contain the inside decorations: candles, nick-knacks, flowers, manger scene, tree ornaments, lights, and much more that will be spread throughout the house to give the inside that seasonal feel.

The whole thing has been done in a day before, starting early and working until night. Usually it is a two day operation.

But the finale has still not arrived. That comes with the arrival of the Christmas Tree, which will probably be next weekend. Once we decide where to get the tree, go get it, transport it home, and put it up, then comes the actual placing of the lights, ornaments, garland, and tree top. This is usually an evening operation.

Finally, the house is pretty much done. I say pretty much because there is ongoing decoration at the Veasey Ranch. We always display any Christmas cards that we receive from family and friends in a little display that surrounds our kitchen entry and breakfast bar area. Cards are added all season as they arrive, and that has already begun.

Yup, it's not even December yet, Thanksgiving was just two days ago, and yet we already have received two Christmas cards. In fact, a couple of our neighbors already have their lawns and windows decorated, having gotten out there on Black Friday.

The good thing about all this decorating is that it is for a 'season', and not just for one day, so once everything is up it stays up for a month. We won't be undecorating the Veasey Ranch until the first weekend after New Year's Day, so we get to enjoy it for awhile.

Ah well, I guess that I have spread out this description of the process of decking the halls here at the Ranch long enough. Time to actually get to work. Ho ho ho. Mistletoe. Christmas cards. Lights and trees. Clark Griswald and Ralphie Parker. Wreaths and bows. Frosty and Rudolph and Scrooge. Presents and egg nog. Reindeer and Santa. Wise men and Jesus' birth.

Christmastime is here. Deck the halls!

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