Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas cat-tastrophe at the house of blue lights

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Like a moth to a flame, I am deathly attracted to blue Christmas lights. My tree at home is lit exclusively in blue. It is the most relaxing colour ever for tree lights in my opinion and I'm not particularly a fan of blue.

Not sure how to explain it. All I can do is be careful when I'm driving by a house or business lit up in blue during the holiday season. I can't stop staring. Unfortunately, this is when I'm driving, so it's probably not the best situation. Never mind a ban on using a cell phone while driving, I'm desperately in need of a ban on homeowners decorating their homes with blue Christmas lights.

Has anyone driven by Moncton City Hall at night lately? The place is spectacular! But holy moly, I can't stop staring when I drive by. I'm pretty sure some poor pedestrian is going to end up as a hood ornament on my Hyundai Santa Fe one of these days. How am I supposed to explain to the police how a little old lady got sprawled across my front grill with a look of shock and awe on her face?

'Well, officer, the Koreans have really upped the ante with their Hyundai hood ornaments lately and they've decided to go life-size this year. It's all the rage in Asia! This one's a special limited edition called 'Granny Oh No!'

Somehow, I doubt that would work.

Well, at least they now have those new LED lights that don't get so hot you could cook a steak on them. When I was a kid, like everyone else on the block we had those old opaque lights on our tree - you know, in the days even before mini lights. While mini lights stayed relatively cool to the touch, the larger ones were certainly not. They were nice and bright, mind you, and quite festive. Unfortunately, however, they were hotter than the sun and would usually result in several burns over the holidays.

Those little buggers could throw off some serious heat! I remember getting a blister on more than one occasion after touching one. Those were the good old days, eh? When Christmas lights served a dual purpose: as decorations and as charcoal for the barbecue.

It's so funny looking at old Christmas photos of friends on Facebook. For those of my generation who were pre-school aged in the late 1960s, everyone seemed to have the same decorations on their walls - likely bought at The Met, Woolworth's or Kmart. There's that colourful cardboard cut-out of Santa Claus that everyone seemed to have. And then there are the long strings of patterned garland that everyone seemed to drape from each corner of the room to meet up in the middle of the ceiling.

It's just so interesting to see how so many people had similar decorations compared to today. With the incredible choice of decorations available nowadays, you rarely see the same things twice no matter where you go. Between the big box stores and the plethora of discount and dollar stores, there's such a wide variety available to the consumer that it boggles the mind.

I tend to keep things simple. I have my standard stuff, of course. My several sets of blue lights, the garland, the nice retro-style glass Christmas ornaments.

That's one tradition I will never let go of. Unbreakable "ball"-style ornaments just don't cut the mustard with me; gotta be real glass.

Being the owner of a couple of curious cats, however, the nicer breakable ornaments are kept at the top of the tree and the unbreakable stuff is near the bottom. If I ever fall asleep on the sofa during the holidays, you can be sure I wake up to the sight of at least one cat beneath the tree bathed in blue light and swatting away at one of the ornaments until I bellow at them to take a hike.

My boy cat Casey slinks away quickly. My girl cat Cindy takes off like a bolt of lightning, the loose skin on her belly flapping from side to side at a hundred miles per hour. And every year without fail, the people who clean my house find Christmas ornaments hidden away in all corners of the house - even in July. It's the hottest day of the year and I come home to find a Christmas ornament on the counter that they just found under the sofa that had been swatted off in December.

If you have pets, trust me and stick with an artificial tree. The smell of a real tree is beautiful. It just personifies Christmas, let's be truthful. But a tree inside is an invitation for a dog to lift up his leg and do 'you know what' on it and it's also an invitation for a curious cat to climb. The smell is just too inviting.

I can't remember the last time I had a real tree but did splurge this year on a nice wreath for my back door. The aroma of that fir when I enter the house really puts me in the holiday spirit - which is quickly reduced to a mesmerized hypnotic trance as soon as I see those blue Christmas lights on the tree and then yanked back to reality when I see the cat bathed in blue beneath the tree light happily swatting away at ornaments.

That part, however, is not so relaxing. I yell. They run. I look away. They're back. I yell. They run. I look away.

They're sitting beneath the tree looking at me all innocent like. I look away. I look back a few seconds later and the tree is naked and every ornament is now beneath the sofa. Oh well, at least my nice blue lights will calm me down. So far, at least, the cats haven't figured out how to swat those off.

1 comment:

Kathy Mercure said...

We never had a cardboard Santa on the wall, but I sure remember those lights. And coming home from church on Sunday to find the tree (fake -- my mom was ahead of her time) on the floor from one of the cats climbing it.

Thanks for the memories, Brian!