the marriage test

They say if you survive planning a wedding, then your marriage will be just fine. Now, obviously that’s a misnomer. I mean: hello, divorce statistics! If all those people who survived planning that wedding would really make it, nobody would ever get divorced, right? But people always say that, mainly as a way to emphasize the stress and drama that surrounds wedding planning.

But I say no. No, it’s not wedding planning that will make or break a marriage. I say there’s another litmus test for that…

Hanging Christmas lights.

It was over 70 degrees today, which in Pittsburgh, in November, is UNHEARD OF. Seriously, I think Mother Nature is just making up for something she hasn’t done yet, something she’s going to do to us in, say, January. Something cold and icy and white and messy and miserable. But for today, it was gorgeous. The perfect day for getting out there and hanging our lights.

(And just to clarify: This does not mean that the lights are getting turned on right now. Not until after Thanksgiving. I have strict rules about not skipping holidays. But hanging the lights in warm, sunny weather as opposed to shivering with frozen fingers? TOTALLY PERMITTED.)

(Also, yes. A few neighbors gave us weird looks. But just wait and see who’s all toasty and warm inside after Thanksgiving with our pretty lights already hung, while they’re outside in the cold and wind in their mittens, trying to connect extension cords and replace fuses and hang light hooks in the gutters. SUCKAS!)

I had big plans for our Christmas lights at our new house. Visions of icicle lights along the entire roof-line! Thousands of white, twinkly lights! Neighbors in awe of the beauty! But to do this, I needed Dan’s help.

He has never really helped me with Christmas decorations. Honestly, he just doesn’t care about decorating for holidays. Which is fine- I’m into it enough for both of us, and I’m fine taking care of it. And the last few years, he’s watched Maggie while I worked my magic, and that’s more help than if he helped with the actual decorating.

But this year, at our new house, it involved a ladder. A BIG ladder. I hate ladders. So he was willing to cooperate because he loves me.

(It helped that I made two awesome dinners this weekend. Chicken scampi yesterday and pot roast today. I know how to work it, baby.)

Anyway! So my big plan? Complete with a diagram! Was a big, fat FAIL. Turns out that even the Super Gigantic Extendable Ladder we borrowed from my sister still wasn’t even close to being high enough for Dan to reach the top level of the roof line. (I seriously misjudged that one. whoops.) And the roof is VERY steep up there, and I honestly couldn’t ask him to risk his life for Christmas lights. I mean, if this was for a contest for MONEY or something, MAYBE. (I kid.) But for my crazy fantasy of Awesome Christmas Light House? Not really worth it.

Of course, we only discovered this after he hung the first strand of lights on the far side of the house. And once we decided to nix the rest of the project due to SOMEONE not having FLYING CAPABILITIES or Go-Go-Gadget arms (DUDE. My husband SUCKS so bad.), it didn’t make sense to keep the first strand of lights where they were.

So he took them down.

And didn’t even strangle me! Only, like, one dirty look!

That led us to Plan B for the lights: the front porch roof and hand rail. It will look nice enough, I think. Once I add my wreaths and candles in each window, plus my twisty, spiral trees somewhere in the front yard, it will all come together.

After a few missteps (leaving the bag of light hooks on the porch roof, AHEM. THAT WASN’T MY FAULT.) (and realizing it wasn’t quite long enough to reach, but since he had to move the ladder back to the beginning anyway to get the bag of light hooks, he was able to adjust it and it turned out okay), it was done.

And we’re still married. And nobody fell off the crazy-high ladder. And nobody killed anybody else. And we even LAUGHED a few times!

And I think? It might actually look kinda nice when it’s all lit up.

And no. I don’t have pictures. Yet. I can’t turn them on, remember?

You’ll just have to wait until after Thanksgiving like the rest of us.


  1. Dave

    November 8, 2009 8:52 pm

    You guys are awesome. Wishing we had gotten ours up today, but our day consisted of visiting a friend, and then kids napping in the car on the way home, and b/c of that, and awesome trip to the huge park near us until dinner time. This was a VERY good alternative to hanging lights today; we had a great time.

    I’ve had many thoughts and dreams of roofline lights of some sort, but neither of us is daring enough to climb a ladder as high as needed to do so. So, we settle for window decorations and lights closer to the ground, and make them look as nice as we can. :-)

    Glad to hear you got something up, though! You definitely will be laughing (inside, at least) at everyone out hanging lights in the snowstorm of the century!
    .-= Dave’s last blog post: Car Rides to and from daycare =-.

  2. red pen mama

    November 8, 2009 9:08 pm

    You are light years ahead of us (no pun intended). We’ve been in this house four years, and haven’t bothered with hanging lights outside ONCE. It’s not even a discussion. I’m happy if I can get him to buy a tree before Christmas Eve.

    And honestly, I’m not that Christmas Crazy. I like the inside of my house to look pretty. And a wreath on the front door. I might do something in our front window.

    I know my limits!

    .-= red pen mama’s last blog post: Rest for the Weary =-.

  3. Laura

    November 8, 2009 9:10 pm

    Our first married Christmas was pretty stressful for exactly this reason. We had a new house, and we had to make all of these new plans. Now it’s SO MUCH easier. We just do everything the way we did last year – husband knows the lights setup and we’ve organized all the lights by where they go and how they’re hooked up – and I’m happier and not crying because I’m so overwhelmed with new decorations. ;)
    .-= Laura’s last blog post: thanksgiving #8 =-.

    • Jen

      November 8, 2009 9:58 pm

      That’s exactly it- at our old house, I knew my set up and it was pretty simple. Now at the new house, I feel like I’m winging it :) I’m looking forward to getting a ‘tradition’ going for how we decorate each year (with maybe one or two new things each time, of course)

  4. Karen

    November 8, 2009 10:00 pm

    They also say that building a house is a good marriage test. We passed that, but there was that one rough patch where, if looks could kill, we’d both be dead. We will not attempt the Christmas Light Test because our marriage may just not pass. Plus, we’ve got the crazy-high roofline as well. My husband’s solution? A super-large spotlight on the front of the house to accentuate the door wreath. Yeh, we’re THOSE PEOPLE in the neighborhood. But inside I have 5 trees to compensate. So there’s that.
    .-= Karen’s last blog post: Regifting Birthdays. Or Not. =-.

  5. Cassie

    November 9, 2009 10:47 am

    We have never put lights up outdoors. I know, sad, right? We haven’t even had a regular Christmas tree for the last 2 years (but we do this year BOOYAH!). I blame living in crappy houses and being a broke ass.
    .-= Cassie’s last blog post: Family Time =-.

  6. domestic extraordinaire

    November 9, 2009 8:04 pm

    Christmas lights is a test of marriage-as is finding the perfect Christmas tree at the cut your own lot. You will hear all about that come the weekend after Thanksgiving. Until then I am slowly pulling out decorations…for WINTER…not for Christmas.

    .-= domestic extraordinaire’s last blog post: Growing up Giggles Style =-.

  7. Burgh Baby

    November 10, 2009 9:18 am

    If Dan ever gives you crap, have him talk to my husband about Christmas lights. Dan has it gooooood.

    I’m so mad I didn’t get any lights up while it was nice out. I’m totally going to be That Chick who is freezing her tushie off out in the ice and snow just to string a few thousand lights.
    .-= Burgh Baby’s last blog post: She’s Really Good at Faking Sick. Or Something. =-.

  8. samantha jo campen

    November 10, 2009 9:55 pm

    Around here there’s a company called Father Christmas or something that will hang hard to reach lights FOR you. Check Google and see if you have one out by you? Maybe?
    .-= samantha jo campen’s last blog post: The Sound =-.

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