In spite of my carefully cultivated Scroogeness, I decided in December to put up three strings of lights on the exterior of our little ranch bungalow here in Ark City. 

I figured it would only take an hour or so to wrap lights around the six-by-six cedar posts and beams that support the exposed rafters over the L-shaped porch. It would create a tiny illusion of merriment and even provide a handy light for the multiple evening excursions that our dog seems to demand so regularly.

In the darker hours of this daily duty, having a porch well-illuminated by cheerful little lights is right handy.

Well, at least it was throughout the Christmas season. And even well into January. I thought Groundhog Day might be a bit of an over-reach so I reluctantly undertook the dismantling of the very non-elaborate display on a mild and semi-pleasant afternoon in the third week of January.

Quite prudently, I had saved the plastic reels, knowing that strings of Christmas lights have a tendency to interweave themselves during storage, in a manner reminiscent of the way that metal coat hangers seemed to breed in captivity. 

Back in the days when decent folk still used metal coat hangers, of course. So, I saved the plastic reels in order to help save myself from excessive annual frustration.

Like any good middle-aged home handyman, I had deliberately kept the reels in their original Walmart bags and carefully set said bags in a place where I could easily find them. 

Like many good middle-aged home handymen, I discovered that I had no idea where that particular place was. I searched the closets, the spare bedroom, the utility room, the garage, the storage shed. I looked on top of shelves, underneath shelves, inside boxes, inside plastic bags, inside storage bins. 

Then I went back and searched all of those places again. And then again.

Finally, I just went ahead, took down the lights, rolled them into vaguely circular patterns and stowed them in a clear plastic container and set the clear plastic container on a top shelf in the garage where I would see it on a regular basis for month after month.

And then, of course, completely forget where it is just in time for the winter holiday season.

A few days later, I decided to reorganize the garage. You know, declutter, revamp, put up shelves, make racks, that sort of thing. 

I decided to use one of the large closets in the garage as storage central.  Since the closet also houses our gas-fired water heater with exposed exhaust flue, it maintains a winter temperature that stays above freezing. Which is handy for storing paint, varnish, cleaning supplies, etc.

After several trips in and out of said closet, I decided to relocate a small shelf that was mounted on the south wall. I started removing the odds and ends that were set on it and then started to remove the hanging hooks mounted just beneath the shelf. To do that, I had to remove the plastic Walmart bags that were hanging on the hooks.

Yep, those plastic Wal-Mart bags. Hanging right there at eye level so I couldn’t miss seeing them every one of the 30 or 40 times I’d been in and out of that closet since early December.

Now, I’ve got to decide whether to untangle those three wads of electric lights and re-wrap them around those three plastic reels, then untangle them once again when I go to put them up after Thanksgiving. 

I’m leaning toward just doing one untangle and then use the reels when I take the lights down again. I wonder, what will the odds be of actually finding the lights and the reels 10 months from now?


Doc Arnett was a professional educator and bi-vocational minister for more than 40 years. He currently pastors the Community Church of South Haven.

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