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Hope's Corner: The guiding lights

"...we are enjoying our Christmas lights throughout January. And I am voting to leave them on until at least Valentine’s Day. And maybe St. Patrick’s Day." writes Jackie Hope.

Jackie Hope BW.jpg
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. Hope's Corner is a weekly humorous column with a message of hope. (CONTRIBUTED / FOR THE DICKINSON PRESS)

Is it socially acceptable to leave your Christmas lights up until Easter, or is it better to take them down right after Valentine’s Day? Asking for a friend.

When I was little, the Christmas lights would always be hung on my mom and dad’s anniversary, on December 12. We had old school lights, with bulbs the size of night light--or appliance--bulbs. If one light burned out, the whole string went dark. And grounding wires were non-existent. Found that one out the hard way one year. Fortunately, the light string had a fuse that burned out before my hair all stood on end.

We had three strings of lights. Two strings had little clippies on each light bulb, to attach it to a Christmas tree or outside rain gutter. The third string had a lariat-style wooden bead to snug the wires tightly around the light bulb after it had been draped over a branch. You can figure out which lights were used on the gutters.

When we moved to a split-foyer house, nobody was very keen on climbing onto the roof, to hang each individual light from the gutters. My dad got the clever idea to nail the lights onto two by fours, and then hang the two by fours from the gutters. Nearly pulled the gutters off the house. My dad and Clark Griswold had much in common.

When we moved to yet another house, it had a totally flat roof. We hung miniature flashing lights, icicle lights, and gobs of clear lights all over it. We even had plans to put an entire life-sized Nativity scene, replete with wise men, onto the roof. Except we were going to make it out of plywood and two by fours, and nobody wanted to hoist the thing onto the roof.

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Now, as grown up and responsible homeowners, we usually hang Christmas lights at Thanksgiving. And the Sunday after Thanksgiving we happily plug in the beloved Christmas lights. They are on dusk to dawn timers, and we sometimes sit in the living room with the lights out, just to bask in the glow of the lights on the roof.

When we were first married, we would officially unplug the Christmas lights on the day after Christmas. Then we thought it would be more fun to leave them on through my birthday, which is three days after Christmas. Then until after New Year’s. And then until after Epiphany, because the wise men need lights to follow.

Now we are enjoying our Christmas lights throughout January. And I am voting to leave them on until at least Valentine’s Day. And maybe St. Patrick’s Day. Well, then comes Easter, and they will look festive for that season, too. Thinking I will leave them on until mid-summer, when it stays light until 10 at night. You never know who might need help finding our house in the dark.

Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.

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"We always unplug our outdoor Christmas lights after Epiphany. But I really miss those lights, and I wish we could leave them on year-round," writes Jackie Hope.