Christmas Lights



“What are you makin,'” the Home Depot employee said, “‘cuz I know you ain’t plumbin’.”

Busted on Christmas Eve. Are there no middle-aged female plumbers in this land? Or were my mom jeans a dead give-away?

I was standing in front of racks of copper pipes, juggling a five-foot length of 3/4-inch pipe between my hands, gauging the odds of its weight causing the flaming candelabra I was envisioning to come crashing down from the ceiling and onto Christmas dinner.

The pipe’s affect on the integrity of my ceiling (and dinner guests) was an issue, but not as much as the fact that the copper color would clash with my gold and white table decor.

Priorities, people.

The shop clerk considered the task I described and assured me that the copper pipe was my best solution, as if he’d ever given serious thought to any dinner table ambiance himself. I can stereotype, too, you know.

Not convinced, I wandered the store with the pipe, resisting the urge to act out a drum major fantasy, finally ending up outside in Lawn and Garden. The solution appeared in a pile of tomato stakes: each five feet long, paintable, and lightweight.

I hurried to return the pipe to its rack and bought a stake, conscripted a daughter who happened to be home to paint it white, then hung it from the ceiling with small, clear hooks and monofilament. Nine hanging candle holders suspended from various lengths of gold ribbon gave me just the look I wanted.

Dinner was baked ham with cranberry conserve, scalloped potatoes, and a green salad. Dessert was cheesecake. The company was divine, and so was the soft candlelight glowing from above.


I hope your Christmas was merry and bright. If ever you cross paths with Last born, get her to tell you the story of her cat and the McDonald’s drive-through. It brought the house down last night. (But not my homemade candelabra. It stayed put, as intended.)


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