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    Lord Of The Christmas Lights

        Today, I took down my Christmas tree, and all the holiday lights and trimming that went with it. The process reminded me of my dad. So I dug up something I wrote years ago about him and Christmas Lights...

         My dad, like most truly eccentric people, had several obsessions in his life; his compulsive stockpiling of flashlights, steak knives, and pens, were but a few.  But his most unbelievable obsession, for my money, was his diabolical preoccupation with Christmas lights. 
        The sheer magnitude of this particular yultide infatuation did not become apparent to me until about fifteen years ago, when I was in my early thirties, and my dad was still alive. 
        He and my mother where in New York city, and I was doing some last minute decorating for our annual black tie, gala, highly touted Piatelli family Christmas party.
        A few weeks before (in what had become a highly enjoyable custom between my dad and I), I had helped him light his property for Christmas. The totality of our yearly efforts included the following: two medium size trees at the foot of the driveway; the Japanese Maple and Cherry Blossom tree right in front of the house (and a few straw reindeer between them); the bough over the front porch; the two dwarf pines that bookend the porch: several large shrubs; and the rather massive holly tree in the back yard. Not to mention, the large Christmas tree that I bought for him and my mom each season. 
        All that had been done. Literally thousands of christmas lights had been deployed.  
        Knowing this, but still wanting to add a little more electric festivity to the property for our upcoming party, I was hoping to find a stray set of lights to do up one or two more shrubs at the corner of the driveway. I wasn’t hopeful, because I was well aware of how many lights had already been used. 
        So I went down cellar, hoping to find a spare set of lights in the storage room.  When I entered that room, however, I was met with a surreal sight: More Christmas lights. Thousands of them. I was not prepared for this, and frankly, it overwhelmed me. 
        There were boxes upon boxes of lights, all stacked neatly on the shelves. The boxes could not possibly all be full, I said to myself, so I started checking their contents.  But full they were. All of them. I stood there for a moment, frozen in my tracks, as though I was looking at something that could not possibly be real.
        The number of lights alone were astounding enough, but the sheer variety added an element of absolute insanity. There were funky, round, opalescent lights. Perpetually blinking lights.  Multi-colored lights.  Lights of a single color.  Lights in strange shapes. Small, new, LED style lights. Big, old, C-9 style lights. Lights shaped like Santa Claus. Lights with clear orbs the size of baseballs covering them (known as,  I discovered later, “snowball lights”). Indeed, I found lights of strange and exotic varieties that I didn’t even know existed. I slapped myself to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.  How could one man acquire so many lights in one lifetime? 
        Dazed and confused, I headed to an adjacent room in our cellar to collect my thoughts. This was known as “the pool room”, because it contained a regulation sized pool table. What I saw there sent me right over the edge. Just when I thought that no human could possibly stockpile more lights, I saw the impossible: more lights.  All over the room.  On the pool table.  On the couch.  In boxes on the floor. On the shelves.  And of even more bizarre varieties.  I saw strings of lights that obviously hadn’t been used in years; you know, the big old fashioned kind that would burn so hot they would send you to the hospital if you touched them. 
        Assaulted by this madness, I determined that I had to get the hell out of there.  “This is not possible”, I said to myself. “No human on earth, even my christmas-lights-obsessive-father, could possibly aquire this many christmas lights!”. Faced with this unerving reality, I suddenly felt as though my sanity was at stake.  So I bolted out of the cellar, my eyes fixed in a glaze of disbeleif, my mind a swirling malestrom of disturbing images and impossible visions.  I went outside, sat down, and took many long, deep breaths.   
        After a while, I calmed down, somehow came to grips with what I had just beheld, and went back into the cellar. to get the lights I needed. 
        But I warn those of inexperience to stay away from that place. That cavern of yuletide madness. That place where a man’s mind delves into a sea of insanity, born of electricity and glass.  Where logic is but a rumor, and where reality bends to the whim of a madman.  A madman known as My Father - Insane Lord of Christmas Lights.

        As I mentioned, I had this insight long before my dad passed away. I thus had the opportunity, on quite a few occasions, to share this writing with him. What I wouldn’t give to be able to sit with him, in his study, one more time, and read this to him aloud. To watch him smile. And shake his head. And experience how much he loved me. And how much I loved him.

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