A Not So Merry Christmas Story
A little background (mid 1970s)
I have wonderful memories of hanging Christmas lights with my dad. We would go up on the roof, just us two, and drape the old school, red, blue and green bulbs around the entire gutter system of both peaks. There was always some sort of accident. Like the time he fell and grabbed me as he slid by, on his way to the edge. Why he thought a 12 year old, 5 foot girl could possibly slow his 6 foot, 180 lb frame, I will never know. But we did stop right before tumbling over the side. Every year that we survived this ritual, only embolden us to take greater risks, and we loved cheating death. Good times.
Fast forward to 2002:
Since I have known my husband, he has never wanted to put up house lights at Christmas. This was not something he did as a kid and seemed convinced that it would look awful, if not done by professionals. I, of course, considered myself an aficionado of holiday exterior lighting, as I had apprenticed for all those years, as my dad’s intern.
I wanted our kids, now ages 5 and 6 years old, to have this great experience as well. So, after the umpteenth time of having this exact discussion, and once again receiving zero support from hubby, I decided that I was going to hang the lights without (despite?) his assistance.
Of course we were really busy with work and the kids, and I was running out of time as Christmas Eve was closing in, so I had to pick a day and time to get all the lights up before he came home from work in the evening. I was sure that when he saw how beautiful it looked that he would apologize for all the past years that we were forced to celebrate in darkness! 😆
I should also mention that this is December in Seattle. So of course it is raining and has been dark since 3 PM. Moss covers a good portion of all the shake rooftops in the Pacific Northwest, and our roof was slanted 60 degrees. That didn’t deter me though! I gathered the decorations and headed for the kid’s bathroom, which had a small window that provided the best roof top access.
Me: Hey guys, we are decorating the house with lights tonight!
Them: stunned silence
Me: Aren’t you excited? The house will be so pretty and Santa will be able to see it better!
Then my 6 year old daughter, who as it turned out was the smartest person in the house that day said, “shouldn’t you wait for daddy to help?”
Me: We don’t need daddy! You two stand at the window and hand me the lights as I walk out to the edge.
Daughter: We should wait.
I should have listened to the wise 6 year old! Astonishingly, normally chatty son was extremely quiet. I asked him, “don’t you want to have lights on the house?”
son: I think we should wait for daddy too!
I had heard enough! I opened the window, angled my body sideways, and put my left foot out and steadied myself. I worked the rest of my body through the window, and as I set my right foot down, both feet flew up into the air and I crashed, all my body weight, onto my right shoulder as I began sliding down the roof!
I bumped along until both feet lodged into the gutter. It was very quiet at that moment. I heard “mommy, are you ok?”
It was my son’s little voice and he sounded so scared! Now, I know I am in trouble but of course I said, “oh, I am fine!”
Daughter yells down: should we call 9-1-1? Mind you, she already has the phone in her hand! “NO, I am fine, I can figure this out!”
I am still laying on my side, weighing my options. Option 1: crawl back up the roof into the window, and be embarrassed for the rest of my life. Option 2: try to make it over to a small tree and climb down, and be embarrassed for the rest of my life. Or, option 3: fall, possible break a leg or two, be embarrassed for the rest of my life.
I start for option 1, and push up from the gutter (which is thankfully, oddly strong) and realize that I have really hurt my shoulder, this is not going to work. I tell the kids that everything is still fine (daughter does not believe me) and that I will climb down the little tree.
I make it over to said tree and realize this will not fully support my weight, but it will slow my fall down. The kids are racing downstairs to unlock the door and open it pretty much at the exact moment I fall through the branches to the door step. Of course the first thing I do, after the crash landing, is to stand up and look around to see if the neighbors saw any of this! Thankfully I don’t hear any laughter, or sirens coming to rescue me!!
My little babies look terrified! I am a terrible mother and I can’t lift my right arm!
I act like everything is fine, pry the phone from my daughter’s hand, and we head upstairs to pack up the lights, close the window and clean the mud and moss off of mommy. I then say, “let’s not tell daddy about any of this, ok?” “it will be our little Christmas secret.”
I bribe them with candy canes and cartoons! I am pretty sure son will out me the moment hubby walks in, but I have to try! The kids never got the chance to tell him however, because as soon as he sees me, he knows something bad as happened!
I am covered with scrapes, a couple twigs in my hair and I can’t raise my right arm! I spent that holiday season in a sling, it took a couple days to heal. And, I have never, ever mentioned Christmas light since!!