I don't use that description of our Christmas display lightly. (Ha! Lightly. Awesome.)
We've got colored lights. We've got white lights. We've got vintage-style, big ceramic lights and we've got little mini lights that want to grow up to be big vintage-style lights. We've got lighted wreaths around our porch lights and garage lights. (Which, by the way, have had their typical light bulbs replaced for the season with red and green ones. Naturally.) We wrap our trees with lights. We drape our bushes with lights. And we've got a growing population of lighted characters that grace our lawn. We've got a Christmas seal, a snowman, a pair of geese, and a polar bear.
We like to say that Christmas threw up on our house.
This year, however, we're admittedly less-than-spectacular.
The day the lights went up was a busy day. Sean and Emma had guitar lessons across town, and afterwards, I had to shuttle Sean to a birthday party and run a couple of other errands. As a result, Steve was left to put up lights on his own. It was rainy and cold and generally yucky outside. Not optimal conditions, to say the least. But due to upcoming business travel plans, that was the day the lights had to happen. He was a trooper and got the lights up across the roofline and he wrapped the porch railing and installed the wreaths. He got the seal and bear assembled and placed in their traditional spots. And then I got home with the kids and we got hungry and it got dark and the remainder of the task was put off to finish another day.
You know how that goes.
Steve went out of town. I got busy with the kids and their assorted busy things. Steve came back in to town but then left again. And I stayed busy and distracted and well...
We kind of gave up. I mean, it's not like we didn't put lights up at all, right? We're representing in the neighborhood. We've got spirit, yes we do.
But we definitely downgraded from spectacular to "Meh. Good Enough."
And I'm ashamed to say, that not only did the other Christmas characters not make it out of their boxes and out onto the lawn, but poor Humpy and The Bear never even got plugged in. (Humpy is the seal. In Humpy's younger days, his movement mechanism still worked, and well, that's how he got his name. And I'll just leave it at that. How The Bear got his name is pretty self-explanatory.)
Fast forward 2 weeks to last night.
We're all piled on the couch watching TV and we get a knock on the door. It's a woman we've never met before, and she greets us with, "Hi. My family drives by your house every year to look at your lights, and we were wondering...is the bear broken?"
Turns out, this family lives in a small town about 40 minutes from us, and they've developed a tradition every year of driving around looking at Christmas lights on their way home from a church service that they attend in our area. A couple of years ago, they happened upon our house in their meanderings, and since then, have returned specifically to see it. And even more specifically, to see The Bear. And even more more specifically...it's their fifth of six children (SIX CHILDREN!!!) who loves our bear. His name is Sylas. And when they drove up to our house last night and saw that Humpy and The Bear were on the lawn but not illuminated in their usual glowing glory, Sylas was concerned and begged his mom to come inquire as to The Bear's condition.
His mom explained that 4-year-old Sylas has loved The Bear before he could even speak. And that now that he can speak, he asks to come see The Bear. He asks "When can we see The Bear?" And last night, I'm sure he asked, "What the heck is wrong with The Bear?" (Or maybe he didn't. They were, afterall, on the way home from a church service.)
In any event, we let Sylas down.
As the mom and I stood there on the porch and talked, Steve scrambled around locating extension cords, and the rest of their family waited in their car at the curb with 6 little faces eagerly watching out the window to see if their mom could set this Christmas travesty right. Steve finally got things arranged and The Bear lit up. Almost as much as Sylas did.
For the record, even though Humpy was not requested, we got him plugged in, too. Humpy and The Bear are a package deal.
I initially felt terrible about not finishing what we started and disappointing these wonderful people. Christmas fail. But Steve had a good point. Had we gotten it all done and in working order, Sylas and his family would have admired The Bear last night and kept right on going. And we would have never known how important this tradition was to them. We'd not have experienced this heartbreakingly sweet Christmas story. And let's be honest. We'd have not ever bothered to dig out the extension cord to plug in The Bear this year.
So. Lesson learned. There are people out there counting on us to bring the Christmas Spectacle of Electrical Joy to the neighborhood. We will not let them down again. Watch out for Christmas 2013, Joshua Street neighbors. It's ON.
(Ha! It's ON. Lights. On. Awesome.)
Merry Christmas, Sylas. Thank you, buddy.
The Bear thanks you, too.