Christmas Lights Always Darken Holy Matrimony

This morning, my wife asked me for a divorce. Oh, she didn't come right out and use the D word. She's much too subtle for that. What she said was, "When are you going to put up the Christmas lights?"

Longtime veterans of marriage to women know that "today" is the proper answer to such a rhetorical question. What I said was, "Just as soon as I finish killing Herb."

Every neighborhood has a Herb. On my street, it's Herb Mote. Most of the year, Herb is a nice guy. Easy-going and soft-spoken, he loans me tools and helps me fix stuff. But every year, sometime around Thanksgiving, Herb turns into the Antichrist.

Herb is the first guy to put up Christmas lights. To his credit, he does a great job. What the rest of the men on the street can't figure out is why. Not only is Herb's wife much smaller than he is, none of us have ever seen her hit him with anything larger than a crock pot.

Herb dragging lights around on his roof is the first sure sign of Christmas in the Spring Hills subdivision. This wouldn't be a big deal if our wives didn't notice, but they do. Mainly because when he's finally done, Herb's house is so festive that you can see it from Alpha Centauri.

After that, it's nonstop spousal reminders like, "Today would be a good day to put up the lights, dear," and "Let's make Christmas really special this year." While these all sound harmless enough, men know that they are just different ways of saying, "Go up on the roof and hurt yourself."

I didn't always know this. When I was a kid, I believed my mom when she said that Christmas lights were designed to show Santa Claus where to land. After I got married, I believed my dad's shouts from the top of the house, "Lousy #@&*! lights!"

As a veteran Xmas-light guy, I offer this simple checklist as a way of making the job easier.

Getting up on the roof is not the hard part. That would be the ground, which you want to avoid returning to without the use of a ladder. Since Christmas lights typically go around the part of the roof known as "the edge," there is no way to avoid this hazard. You can, however, soften your fear with lots of insurance and/or eggnog.
Untangle and test the lights before dragging them up on the house top. This is important because no matter how carefully you stored the lights last Christmas, they will be snarled again this Christmas. Furthermore, half of them will not work two-thirds of the time. The edge of a roof is the wrong place to start wishing that you had never been born.
Because of gender differences, this may be the most difficult part of Christmas lights. As a rule, women want the lights to be symmetrical in appearance. For those of you thinking "Huh?" right now, "symmetrical" means "the way Martha Stewart would like it." For this, a guy will need a calculator, a sextant, lots more eggnog and the patience of the dead.
Just because the lights are up and you are down does not mean that you can forget about them. Lights burn out. For some reason incomprehensible even to scientists, the person not responsible for climbing on the roof will also be the same person most bothered by the fact that one light in 5,000 is not working.
Depending on how good you are at watching and analyzing the weather, taking down the Christmas lights is something that can be postponed until the end of July.
Robert Kirby welcomes e-mail at
© Copyright 1998, The Salt Lake Tribune <>

Submitted By: Thomas Harold
Dec 21, 1998 16:06

This joke is rated: PG