Loose Ends: Letting the light shine

Walking home the other night, the twinkling lights on display in most every neighborhood lent warmth and light. I was amazed to see even the backyard of one home lit up as well. The deer grazing in the neighbor’s yard appreciated it.
dollyviscardiHolidays in the valley have always brought out the competitive spirit in more than a few of us. One lighting display included music, and just like in the movies, the scenery all around took on a whole new perspective. The lighted animal figures in the yard seemed to move in time to the music. Some years the season’s excess includes decoration overkill – including an over-the top-outdoor light display and a yard full of giant decorative figures.
Now that the holiday is almost over and many of the lights taken down a day or two after Christmas, it is appropriate to mention one of the least talked about side effects of going “all out” with Christmas decorating. All the cuts, falls and electrical shocks tied to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. Although the toll from holiday accidents haven’t been released by The Consumer Product Safety organization as yet this year, 12,500 unlucky souls were treated in emergency rooms all over the country three years ago. We’ll soon see if all of the cutbacks in consumer spending this year kept those numbers down a bit.
Not long after Thanksgiving, newspapers throughout the country feature tips for careful trimming and almost all of them remind us of the importance of inspecting and testing holiday lights before they are hung on the house or tree. One such article included this extra help, “Any wires that are frayed, excessively kinked, show visible spots, or have cracked and broken sockets should be replaced immediately.”
Unfortunately, most of us are not so organized and soon find the Christmas deadline upon us without taking these necessary steps to protect ourselves. The problems often date back to the beginning of each year, when all those trimmings are taken down and the wires of the lights coiled tightly to fit in the only box that seems to be available regardless of size. Most lights and decorations are pulled out from overstuffed cardboard boxes, where they soon get the frayed wires and broken bulbs.
However, not many of us recognize a durable plastic tub or bin for future storage as a really good Christmas present. That type of precautionary giving could do more than come in handy – it might prevent accidents. It could be that others have become too used to all the warnings and precautions listed on the outside of the decorations.
The warnings fall flat, as the homeowner scans the box to see where to begin. One box has the following message on the packaging, “WARNING: Choking hazards. Small parts.” Another, on a box of decorative ornaments, reads: “FOR DECORATIVE DISPLAY ONLY – Not for food use.” The third is equally inane, “FOR DECORATION USE ONLY – not a toy.”
Happy new year, everyone. Warning: This message is intended only for greetings-of-the-season purposes. Do not cut, rip, or tear this column out of the paper for later use. All warnings are null and void.
– dolly@theheraldtimes.com