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by Michael Morse, contributing writer
I wanted to just throw it away, but I couldn’t. It just seemed wrong. So I took off my gloves and my frozen little fingers got to work. One bulb at a time, jiggle it a little, push it in, and move to the next. Somewhere along the line somebody wasn’t cooperating, and I planned on ferreting the missing link out, and replacing it with one that knew how to behave.
I briefly wondered if I would electrocute myself over a three dollar string of lights, then decided it was worth the risk. Twenty or so twinkle lights in, and I found the culprit. I wiggled and jiggled, twisted and pulled, and was rewarded with a bloody thumb and an empty socket. The cellophane package of spare bulbs and fuses had survived five or more Christmas seasons taped to the plug end of the line, and I found out why when every ounce of strength I could muster was not enough to separate the package of bulbs from the wire. I rummaged around the garage and found an antique hedge clipper that would do the trick, and do the trick it did!
I plugged the light in.
Nothing. Fear not, this must be a multiple build malfunction, so down the string I went, eventually replacing three more bulbs. The third did the trick, and I had one hundred beautiful lights to do with what I pleased!
Three deadbeats out of a hundred. It doesn’t take much to gum up the works, I thought, as I wrapped my salvaged light string around a post. My neighbors would see an illuminated post, but I would see the rebirth of something that a sane man would have dumped in the trash. I didn’t give up on those tired old lights, and gave the group a chance to shine by simply doing a little work.
If only the world were so simple. Three malevolent people out of a hundred can create a lot of chaos. Taking the broken from our midst and replacing them with functioning parts is a temporary solution. Eventually, more bulbs break, and the same damaged ones return. Eventually, the string is beyond repair.
Throwing it all away every time a link is broken is madness when all that needs to be done is a little repair work. When we remain connected the world is a much brighter place.
Editor’s Note: The author let us know these details, and we think it adds much to the story of holiday resilience: “I made most of the decorations out of old pallets, and discarded fence; the trees I picked from the garbage and that Santa on the roof is the last thing sold at the Benny’s on Warwick Ave. (I think so anyway, so therefore it’s true.) All of the lights have been around for decades, I call them my Frankenlights because they are lots of parts from different strings.”
Michael Morse spent 23 years as a firefighter/EMT with the Providence Fire Department before retiring in 2013 as Captain, Rescue Co. 5. He is an author of several books, most offering fellow firefighter/EMTs and the general population alike a poignant glimpse into one person’s journey through life, work and hope for the future. He is a Warwick resident.
I just love your writing. Write more and often!