As part of my continuing effort to extend less effort around the house, I’ve hired a couple of guys to put up the Christmas lights this year.
I feel guilty about it, too, but in a weird way. I’m not feeling guilty about hiring the guys to do a job that I have always done. I feel guilty for NOT feeling guilty about hiring the guys. It’s like I should be ashamed of myself, but I’m not, and I feel ashamed for it.
Boy, am I strange. I mean, who else can take a perfectly reasonable business transaction and turn it into a crisis?
My rational self tells me that I’m doing the right thing. I’m 60 years old, or, as I like to put it, in my extremely late 40s. The last thing I need is to be going up and down a ladder to the peak of a large Victorian house with a staple gun in one hand and a string of C9 lights clamped in my teeth. I can just see the headlines:
Writer, 60, Killed In Fall From Ladder/Hanging Christmas Lights/Was Old Enough To Know Better/Big Dummy
My rational self also does not buy the notion that hiring someone younger and more agile to do the work is somehow cheating, that I’m supposed to be an American Homeowner In Good Standing, taking care of things myself. That, my rational self tells me, is a load of bushwa.
But the guilt over the lack of guilt persists.
Maybe I’m having these issues because I am a fairly recent convert to the Church of Lighting Up The House For Christmas.
It goes back to kidhood, when every other house for miles around (it seemed) was all lit up, but ours was not. We had a big wreath with lights on it hanging on the front window, but that was it.
This was my father’s doing. He said our wreath was tasteful. Personally, I think he was just saying that and the real reason it was all we had was because he didn’t want to be going up and down a ladder with a staple gun in one hand and — well, you get the picture.
Now, as a kid, this bothered me. I wanted lights, and I don’t mean tasteful. I wanted every inch of the house outlined in blazing electric holiday cheer. Every year I made my pitch to light up the house; every year we put up the tasteful wreath.
I guess I just sort of forgot about it over the years. But old desires have a way of coming back when you’re nostalgic, and the Yuletide is a very nostalgic season for me. It was only a matter of time, then, before I came to the conclusion that I didn’t need anyone’s permission or approval or, for that matter, a tasteful wreath. If I wanted lights, I could have lights. And so I began putting them up and loving it.
Which gets me back to where I started. I still want lights. I just don’t want to fool with them. And that gets me back to feeling guilty about not feeling guilty for hiring those guys.
Know what? I think I’ll get over it.
Which is probably more than I’d be able to say if I fell off a ladder.