Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gravel Road Christmas Lights

I will try and video the thirty five strings Grandpa Larry has hanging off the cable, it's rigged up to his computer so the lights will dance to music. We have a song we sing about Grandpa Larry, the chorus goes a little something like, "I'm an inventor!" 

Not many people can capture the Christmas spirit in thousands of tiny, sparkling bulbs quite like my Grandpa Larry. The man makes the most elaborate homes out of Christmas movies look like an amateur job.  Winter Solstice in south central Alberta is probably too many hours of daylight for his liking. When 4:30 rolls around and the sun is tucking itself in for the night, Grandpa is just pulling out his sunglasses. The man has a zillion watts of lights strategically placed around his farm to make your eyes burn and the sun going down is the pinnacle in his day, simply because it's time to plug in a bit of a Christmas show.

Grandpa's immaculate home place is enveloped by crop land and is happily invisible from any main highway. The fact that it's a back road beauty doesn't deter Grandpa from putting on the best light show around. As a little girl, I can remember the wonder of a giant star on top of Grandpa's shop, pumping out music and lights rhythmically dancing to the beat - long before the time anyone else would have done this sort of thing. As an adult, I can now fully appreciate the work that Grandpa puts into his festivities, and can also see a bit of the madness in his ways.

Years ago, when one of the local hardware stores had a deal on where you could exchange your old Christmas lights and get a deal on a string of LED lights, I could tell Grandma was getting mildy annoyed with the hoards of lights that kept coming home from town. Grandpa soon quit making excuses to head into town, he just did, it was another trip for lights and no one asked any questions. Although, just to be clear, Grandpa's Christmas lights aren't just about quantity, but to this perfectionist, quality reigns. Months before Christmas, Grandpa Larry starts to pull out the boards that are all numbered, to know which one to hang between what column on the deck of their home. You wouldn't just hang lights all willy nilly, you know, but they must be neatly strung on a board so they aren't all floppy like. No amount of effort is spared. If it takes the gas powered cherry picker (with not a cherry to be found for hundreds of miles, unless you call the twenty five thousand light bulbs cherries) to deck the tractor out, or reach the top of the shop, then so be it. I think when you ask us grandchildren about Grandpa's occupation, we won't say much about grain farming, but we'd shout "Christmas light magician! "

Last year we all were concerned when Grandpa fell off the ladder when stringing his infamous Christmas display. The only thing Grandpa Larry was concerned about was getting the rest of the lights up.  When he realized Grandma was fit as a fiddle and his instructional voice wasn't the least bit impaired - Christmas light fixing continued. This year, when telephone poles were pushed into the ground between the garden and the trees north of the house, to hang huge cables on, our family didn't even bat an eye. We almost felt like daring Grandpa, "What? You're just doing a row of little old light's there? Come on!"

I come by my love of Christmas lights honestly and always appreciate those that spend the time to decorate with such fervor.   Every year we'd drive into the local small town to look at lights. It didn't hurt our feelings that there were only three streets and only a hand full of houses had lights up, it was the merriment of it all really, and possibly the hot chocolate after.

A few years ago the token John Deere salesmen, a favorite man in the area, put the most effort in of us all. He may or may not have taken every single blue bulb off the New Holland dealership's tractor that was all lit up in town, and replaced each bulb - with a bright green bulb of course! This is the kind of effort I'm talking about! The effort I applaud! I am thinking my grandpa and the John Deere salesman should get together, with Grandpa's vision and tenacity, and the John Deere salesman's jokester ways they could nearly make the coffee shop sing with stories.

As you contemplate your Christmas lights for the upcoming years, remember the wonder in the children's eyes. As much as Grandpa Larry would beg to differ, they don't have to be perfect, they just have to be bright.



15 comments:

LeAnna said...

Oh my goodness, I got a good laugh out of the JD salesmans prank! Ha! That is too funny. Your Grandpa's house is beautimous, and I love reading your memories.

fernvalley01 said...

My Uncle is nearly 80 and he has a spectacular light display in Edmonto , started with just hius house and is now across the boulevard!He is often featured on the news for his lights, amazing that folks who do such artistry with them. Here's to you Grandpa Larry.Merry Christmas sir!

Petie said...

I love this story. I wish I lived closer, so I could check it out.

Vicky said...

When we lived in Idaho there was a ranch about 40 miles from us in the foothills of the mountains in the middle of nowhere it seemed. But they would do a dazzling display of lights around their horseshoe driveway. We made at least 2 trips out there every year and sadly moved away before our kids could experience it. But wonder is exactly the right word- a sense of wonder truly embodies what the season is all about!

Crystal said...

Wow that is quite the lights! Would be cool to see in real. I love the lights and quite often we drive around to see what everyone else has come up with.

Karen said...

Honestly, the lights are one of my most favorite things... and I think your Grandpa is pretty terrific.

The Goerzen Girls...and Art said...

I love Christmas lights! Every year, we head to the city to take a walk down "Candy Cane Lane", a few blocks of the city where almost everyone decorates their houses like crazy. And the hot chocolate does add to the festivities, that's for sure!

Steph said...

I love Christmas lights! When I go shopping at Target with you in Montana, I'd like to swing by Grandpa's house too.

Gumbo Lily said...

Now that's a great thing to be remembered for -- Christmas lights! I love gravel road lights. My star on the barn is right next to our gravel road and I hope others love seeing it as much as I do when I drive by at night. Has the Grandpa Larry lights gene been passed on to anyone else in the family yet?

Jody

Shirley said...

I hope you video your Granpa's light display- we'd all love to see it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chey, Nicholas has told me a few tales about Grandpa Larry's lights. It's something I think he may aspire to also one day!! He has Big Nick's love of lights also, so between the two!!
Love your post. Makes me smile.
Steph

A Prairie Girl in California said...

always loved your Grandpa's display!!
and that story about the tractor? I still laugh about what that looked like :)

Jessy @ WestEastern said...

Another beautifully told story, Cheyenne. Everyone has their eccentricities - it's awesome that your grandfather's is creating something festive that everyone can enjoy.

I've always loved driving around and looking at Christmas lights, but it seems our rural neighbors out here in the mountains aren't the master light-decorators we have been hoping for.

Would you believe that this is my first year having lights of ANY sort on my house? We have a single strand around our door - when Chris rigged it up, I clapped and jumped up and down like a little girl.

It's the simple, beautiful things that make Christmas so stinkin' special :)

Jessy

Tori said...

Oh I love hearing this story! Something to be remembered forever. My little Scout loves Christmas lights. She even points out regular business signs or decor as "lights".

Jaclyn Hicks said...

I hop you are well my friend. Haven't seen you around blog land in awhile and just wanted to check in. Take care!

test
 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...