Decorating for Christmas is Almost Done

We got up this morning, had coffee in our Christmas mugs, and turned on the fireplace to enjoy a calm, cozy Saturday morning.  The house is decorated for the Holidays, (well, all except the dining room) and it feels so warm and happy. 

Check out the photo (below) of the great room.  You can see some of the nutcrackers on the mantle (since the collection now numbers 58, there are gaggles of them all over the house), some of the bears on the trunk (that's the new 2010 Belkie Bear on the right, with the 2003 Harrod's Bear in the middle, and Belkie Bear 1994 on the left) and in Missy M's tiny red rocker (Belkie Bear 2000 holding some bear buddies), and the sentamental ornaments on the tree.  Ahhh...

Great room all decorated for the Holidays

Morning room mantle...and more nutcrackers
 Then we turned on the local weather station.  Drat.  Weather people were saying we were in for rain, freezing mix, wind, and a big blast of Arctic air...along with a hurricane-style barometer reading.  About the only thing they weren't predicting was a plague of locusts.  Oh well...that lovely weekend morning in front of the fire was nice while it lasted.  Time to get going on the outdoor decorations, since Mr. Weatherman said today was going to be warmer than tomorrow.  Couldn't prove it by me...or by our thermometer, which was sporting temps in the twenties.  Brrrrrrrrrr...

Blow-up Santa-in-the-Chimney
stops traffic
Out of the attic came the boxes containing the exterior lights, the reindeer, the lighted snowflakes and stars for the porch, the Season's Greetings arch, and blow-up Santa-going-down-the-chimney (pic to left).  Out of the garage came the "mens," as we call the ancient wooden nutcrackers that continue to report for sentry duty every Holiday season (pic below, right)...and yes, they do still need re-painting.  And, out of the basket by the door came the gloves and scarves, to offer some warmth and protection against the weather.

We worked all day and are almost finished.  We got everything in place and set up, and all the lights tested, having to replace just a couple bulbs, thank goodness. And, it looks so festive!  Stopped traffic on our neighborhood street, we did. 

It's funny:  folks driving by will stop right in front of the house and sit and wait for Santa to complete his "cycle" of popping up out of the chimney, and then "melting" back down again. (It's all done with two fans and motors...:).  We've had him for several years and two states...and he is still a favorite.
"Mens" on sentry duty in front yard

One important element is missing from the arsenal, however, so that means a trip tomorrow to Home Depot (AKA:  our home away from home...:) for automatic timers.  We have four outdoor-rated timers, but they all seemed to have been severely affected by last year's ice and snow, since none of them worked correctly when we plugged everything in.  We can't have a light show without the assistance of timers, though. No, no, no!

But, I promised photos in this post, so I snapped some just before some icy rain started to fall, and we had to cut the power.

I do want to report on one decorating lesson we learned this season.  We couldn't find the box with the lights for the tree...thought we'd ditched the ancient strands at the time of our move from MO to NC.  For sure the cardboard box we had stored them in was way past it's "sell by" date!

Anyway, we decided to replace them with LED lights...more energy efficient and thereby more "green"... which is the direction we're trying to take.  Bought 6 strands of 100 lights and put them on our tree.

Good grief.  Those lights are so bright they hurt to look at them.  No eyes hurt, and I had a raging headache after I put the ornaments on the tree, while working with the lights on.  As Mr. T said, those lights are all about the lights...they are the stars of the show.  Now, that may be perfect for an outdoor display, where it is all about the lights, but that doesn't work for an indoor tree, where the lights should be accents for the ornaments.  The photo above of the tree and mantle (which is also sporting a couple of strands of the new LEDs) was taken with the flash, which wins the light battle.  Below is the same photo, taken without the flash, so you can see just how bright...and how blue...the LEDs are.  Notice how the LEDs cast spotlights onto the ceiling, even.

Lesson learned:  LED lights just too bright...
The good news:  we found the old indoor lights for the a box marked "outdoor lights!"  We aren't going to de-decorate and remove the LED's this year (heavens, no!), but we are going to graduate them from indoor duty to outdoor duty next year.

We do need all the help we can get in reducing energy consumption while still putting out a light display.  We want to reduce our carbon footprint for sure...but, I guess we'll have to take baby-steps in that direction.  No pun intended...honest.


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