A Story of Christmas Lights
When I graduated from college I lived in apartments, then later I rented a condo. During Christmas I couldn’t put up Christmas lights. The Condo association wouldn’t even let me put lights on the insides of my windows.
A few years later I bought a house. I could put up all the lights I wanted. At first all I could afford were a string of lights from the thrift store. Over the next couple of Christmases I purchased more lights from the thrift store. Hey, my home loan at thirteen percent.
Then one year I was getting the lights ready for another Christmas. I had the lights strung on the floor for testing and repair. They ran across the living room and down the hall. These were old incandescent T5 lights. I had to wiggle and replace lights as I went along the string. There were 140 lights in a string and I had five strings. This routine was getting old. If one light went out then they all went out. I got fed up and went out and bought my first set of new red incandescent T5 lights.
The next year I got a set of green lights. I would alternate between the red and the green lights for years. Of course I would add an additional sets of red or green lights as the years went by.
Then the red lights started to give me trouble. So I went out and purchased a set of LED lights. They were great. The string of lights had red, green, and blue LEDs and they blinked.
Blinking Christmas lights are a big thing. When I was very little (Late 1950s) we had a couple of strings of blinking lights for the Christmas tree. Each bulb blinked independently. When a bulb blinked it would mess up the TV reception and the AM radio. With several dozen lights like this blinking watching TV or listening to the radio while the Christmas lights were on was impossible. We didn’t have cable, satellite, or FM radio, out in the desert, in those days.
The number of blinking LED lights strings quickly multiplied and I threw away the wore out incandescent lights.
LED lights run much cooler and don’t mess up the TV or the radio when they blink. They also blink in sequence like marching ants.
This year one of the strings of the LED lights went out. Wiggling the LED bulbs and changing some bulbs did not fix the string of lights. It’s time to replace the whole string of lights.
I went down to the hardware store to get some new lights. They don’t make lights like that any more. I could not find any lights that would march.
So I did what any obsessive decorator would do. I went to every store in the county looking for lights that I could modify to get what I wanted. They were all out of LED lights of any kind. There’s 125,000 people in this area and I could not finds LED lights anywhere.
My display did not look good with a string out. It was two weeks before Christmas so ordering some lights from on line would be iffy. If I ordered them would they arrive in time.
Every year just before Christmas I go down (it’s below sea level and it gives new meaning to the term down home) to my old home town to visit friends and relatives. At a long time friends house I helped him tear out the kitchen floor and replace the flooring. Our idea of fun things may differ from what you think of as fun, but we enjoy working with our hands. It was us against the old floor, and we’re still here and the old floor is not. The old floor was done 60 years ago by a good carpenter. Solid construction with lots of nails. It took way too much work to get the old flooring out.
In the middle of it all we had to drive to the big box hardware store that’s two towns away to get some plywood to replace the wood we tore out. At the hardware store they had LED lights, and they were half off at five dollars a box for string of LED lights with one hundred lights on it. I bought twenty boxes. The strings were single color per string, but I got strings of red, green and blue.
To get these new lights to march I will have to cut the strings up and add six inches of wire between the lights. Its going to take months to rebuild do so many light strings. Still when I got home I was able to get the string that wore out replaced quickly.
Next year I will have a bigger display. It will not be one of those 35,000 light displays that you see in Christmas display contests on TV, but all the lights will blink.
To get the new lights I’m making to blink I will have to get a couple of more Light-O-Rama controllers.
Luckily the new lights are LED. I will not need to replace/upgrade the circuit breaker panel to power the Christmas lights with the added lights.
Stay strong, write on and remember the best Christmas lights blink.
Professor Hyram Voltage
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