In Which Ms. Bean Attempts To Buy Outdoor Holiday Lights During A Bleak Week

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A photo of the view out a bedroom window. Bleak.

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THIS WEEK I’VE BEEN TRYING to get it into gear to start putting up outside holiday decorations.

You’d think at this point in my life that’d be a simple task.

You would be wrong.

Last year, in a fit of tidy, I got rid of all our outside lights and wreaths.  The lights worked in sections and the decade-old wreaths were looking downright ratty.  They were more wire than fake pine needles and the dingy red bows on them added to the pathos.

So, knowing that we needed some new decorative stuff, I hauled myself up off the sofa and wandered meself through many a store looking at all the newfangled, complicated, high-priced lights– and wreaths.

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A photo of ground cover covered in snow. Bleaker.

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FROM MY FORAY INTO ACTUAL brick and mortar stores I learned that I haven’t a clue about how much to spend, what to buy [net or string? LED or incandescent? solid color or multi?] and where we might put that which I buy once I get it home.

I also looked at some pretty sparkly wreaths– that all seemed to be covered in glitter.  Me not happy. Me not want glitter traipsed into house.

Me fussy like that.

And so on that note of shopping defeat, underscored by one of the bleakest weeks I’ve ever seen in November, I’ll end this post.  Figuring that there’s a weekend a’coming and a husband to be cajoled into helping me find the perfect outdoor lights and wreaths.

To add much-needed color to our world. Hallelujah!

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A photo of trees in backyard. Bleakest.

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Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

84 thoughts on “In Which Ms. Bean Attempts To Buy Outdoor Holiday Lights During A Bleak Week”

  1. I actually like your pictures. The snow is very pretty on ground and branches.
    We have an agreement here that hubby does the outside decorating and I do the inside. He actually gets excited about all kinds of lights and buys them throughout the year at Goodwill and estate sales. Works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beth, I like the grayness and snow in the winter, but it’s too early for it around here now. Alas, I can do nothing about that so I tried to focus on holiday lights… which turned out to be complicated and pricey. 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I open a Christmas card and it has glitter on it, it goes right in the trash. Cats you know. Don’t want them to get on their paws and lick it. Nor do I want it to find it’s way to me. Outdoor lights are not in my area and if it were up to me, we’d have a wreath on the door period. You are a good soul to venture out to replace. I’m getting to be a curmudgeon about all the trappings. Two years ago I started to host my family for a Christmas dinner sometime during December in order to force myself to do some level of decorating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kate, I’d forgotten about the glitter + cats problem. I just don’t like it ground into our rugs and carpeting. I could go with a wreath on the door and call it a win. If we find no acceptable lights, then that’s what we’ll do. I’m not much for holiday decorating to begin with, but I do try to do a little bit. Most years. As you said, in a self-forcing way.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I hear you and second ALL of it…except the outdoor lights. Too worky for me. But you go right ahead.

    Just don’t leave them up as long as some of the people in MY neighborhood. Sigh.

    Like

    1. nance, I am on the fence about the outdoor lights. I can happily, easily, live without them BUT they do provide more light to the front door during a time of year when guests are walking to the front door. Safety, you know.

      [I see that my comments on your blog are still not coming through. The system leads me to believe that they’re going into moderation, but who know? I’m trying. How’s your attempt with WP going?]

      Like

      1. Ally–I’ve gotten ZERO comments from you anyplace. I have no idea where they are going. Have you tried using an Anonymous ID? Thank you for your continued efforts.

        I’m putting WP on ice for now. Lots of other things going on that are draining away my time and energy. I’ll get back to it eventually; I think I’ll have to. Google seems to be streamlining, and I’m not sure what they’re going to cut loose next.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ll keep trying. I tried Anonymous ID and I got the impression my comment had gone through. Nice thing about blogging, you can wander away when you need to and come back to it [& WP] when you can.

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    1. marian, I love those multi-color lights. Almost no one in our neighborhood uses them, preferring single color [refined + tasteful?] lights. If we can find some in the right style and at the right price, we’ll be [excuse the pun] golden.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely go with LED lights. They use a lot less energy and burn much brighter. Multicolor are a lot more fun than solid, but a mix of the two can be fun, too, especially if they flash on and off. But that’s up to you.

    Some Christmas tree places have live wreaths. You have to replace them every year, and there’s a chance people will be tracking evergreen needles through the house, but you don’t have to cope with glitter and they smell good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, I like how those LED lights look from afar, much snazzier than the incandescent. I like multicolor lights, too. If we can find some that’d be my preference.

      I hadn’t thought of a live wreath. I don’t know why. I don’t mind pine needles, it’s glitter that bugs me. Good idea, John.

      Like

  5. Bleak makes me sluggish and sleepy. I got our lights up last weekend – swatted mosquitoes, but not having to fight bitter winds and driving rain that keep showing up uninvited.
    So far our lights/wreath are still shining – so the torment of replacement is staved off another year.
    Many wreaths do seem a bit too ornate and glittery as in gaudy. (Of course I made those for a living in Display for years, I’m picky about decorations because of that). The whole idea of tiny white lights on nets just sounds so easy and fabulous I’m not sold on the LED lights as the hues are so intense – and some remind me of carnival more than Christmas. Besides our old fashion big bulb ones keep the plants warm during freezes – (actually recommended by plant places here). You can find the old fashion light strings on Amazon /Noveltylights.com, too for bulbs. In any case easy gets more important each year. A couple of colorful bright spots, a wreath, a garland over the front door, and done. …Sometimes simple is better – like Williamsburg’s red bows. Rambling because this foggy weather makes me sleepy zzz Good luck with the decoration hunt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. philmouse, the bleak has made me grumpy. It’s too early for this grayness. Gray is for winter, when I accept it and like it. However, this is fall when I should be seeing browns and rusts and golden hues. *mutter, mutter*

      I’ve been amazed by how many different sizes of bulbs are available on these new holiday light strands and nets. Standing in the store I began to feel overwhelmed and so I trudged back home empty-handed. I’m going to need moral support on this decision.

      I’m hoping that we can find a few net lights and one simple [not gaudy] wreath, perhaps with a red bow even. Then that’ll be all that we do.

      I’m not big on Christmas decorating to begin with, but I do like a little something out front to suggest that the Grinch doesn’t live here. ‘Ya know?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have gotten lazy about decorating. In the “olden days” I went all out. This year I think it will be a funky little sequined tree, battery operated with a timer, and a wreath on the table with LED candles, also on a timer, in the center of it. Maybe a wreath on a door.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, I like your simplified approach to decorating. It sounds great to me. I’m not looking for a lot of lights out front, just a few to show we’re here and alive. Inside the house might be even less. One poinsettia, for instance. We don’t decorate like we once did, either.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Good luck with your exterior illumination project ~> I’m partial to simple strands of white lights (LED) and a tasteful wreath (or two, tops).

    Roping your husband in to the project makes great sense. I’m sure he’ll appreciate the opportunity to get his Christmas on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nancy, whatever we find will be simple, I can guarantee you that! I’m hoping that with a few netted lights on some bushes and one wreath on the door we’ll be able to call it complete.

      No doubt Z-D will be thrilled to help me with this project… and if he isn’t he can pretend that he is because… married!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Bleak doesn’t even begin to describe what it’s like outside in November 😕

    Like you, I look forward to the Christmas lights to chase away some of that darkness. Thankfully, putting lights outside is not my job … and Husband has already taken care of it. For some reason, he seems to look forward to it every year and somehow manages to always do it in the worst possible weather. This year – freezing rain. Periodically he’d come back into the house to throw his clothes in the dryer for a while before he headed back out.

    … and every year he seems to add more lights. Thankfully we still have a way to go before we’re in competition with the Griswold Family Christmas 😏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, I can only imagine how bleak your Novembers are. You’re farther north than we are and have so much more snow.

      It’s wonderful that your husband enjoys decorating with lights on the outside of your house. If he’s got a plan and the energy to do it, then I’d let him at it. I think it’s funny that he came inside to warm his clothes in the dryer. Smart thing to do, but still kind of humorous.

      I’d forgotten about the Griswold Family Christmas, but I can guarantee you that our lights will be modest by comparison. Puny, even. If we find the right ones to buy. 🙄

      Like

  9. Glitter gets such a bad rap. I, personally, don’t mind it but in deference to people who do, I use glitter glue a lot. Gives the effect of glitter without the mess. We stopped putting lights outside many years ago (after not taking them down for about 5 years). I blame my husband’s bad back. The inside used to get all gussied up but even that is now down to just the tree, which keeps getting fewer and fewer ornaments on it. I love the smell of the fresh tree but don’t have the space to decorate as I’d like and don’t have the inclination to rearrange all the regular stuff we have to make room for all the holiday stuff we have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, I don’t mind glitter on a card or Christmas ornament because that doesn’t make a huge mess. But a glittery wreath on the front door is too much for me– all that sparkle ends up all over the house.

      Fingers crossed, we’ll find a few nets of lights that we can quickly toss onto the bushes and then just as quickly remove from the bushes after the holidays. This is going to be ezpz– or not at all.

      Fresh trees make me sneeze so we have an artificial one that looks good enough. We used to do so much more holiday decorating, but now it’s simple, simple, simple.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I too am a Glitter Hater. It’s difficult for me to even put up people’s Xmas cards if they have the stuff on them. I’m no help because all I put out is a wreath, usually bought from some worthy organization. One of my neighbors has gone crazy on his decorations. I’ll have to sneak a picture and put it on my blog. 😉 My younger daughter’s boyfriend’s dad puts fake candles and greenery in each of his windows and it looks very classy and comforting from the outside with all those “candles” glowing. I don’t have the kind of house to do that, but his is a more traditional style, so it works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I don’t get upset about cards with glitter on them, just not in them as a joke. I like that candle in the window look, but if you have blinds on your windows, like we do, those candles are tricky. I don’t know what we’ll end up doing here, but I know it’ll be cheerful + understated– and reasonably priced because I’m a frugal gal at heart. And kind of lazy about decorating.

      Like

  11. Looks the same as here (though today the sun is struggling to appear).

    I haven’t bought Christmas decorations in ages, so I couldn’t tell you how much to spend. (Wish I knew.) Your post reminded me that I need to find the lights I put away somewhere last year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. L. Marie, I was amazed by the price difference among the various light styles and brands. I could have bought what appeared to me to be about the same thing for anywhere from $5 to $25. I mean, I’m sure there are differences in quality and size, but the last time I bought holiday lights [15 years ago?] there were just holiday lights. Pick up a box, buy it, go home. Now… who knows? 🤷‍♀️

      Like

    1. Pam, I can enjoy bleak in the winter months, Jan | Feb | March. But to have weather like this in November is almost too much for me. However, I’ll adopt your mantra and start looking for the beauty. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I understand. It’s difficult to remain positive/productive when there’s no sunshine around for days/weeks on end. Some years it’s even months of gray here. Hoping that this won’t be one of those years.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. I am Jewish but my wife is Christian. I told her when we got married that she could do whatever she wanted during the holidays (tree, lights, wreath, the works). But all we ever do is light the menorah and she fries up latkes for Chanukah. Great for me… but what about her? So this year I encouraged her to decorate for Christmas. She said,”oh, so much work… that’s why I don’t do it. Chanukah is easier.” 🙂 I finally got her to at least put a wreath on the door. Good luck with your decorations; it’s probably good your’e getting your husband involved. Two head better than one, and all that. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marty, I’m not big into decorating for Christmas so I understand your wife’s point of view. I do like at least a suggestion of Christmas around the front door, so onward we go with this project. I’m glad you got a wreath for your door. That’s simple and nice.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Norm, I cannot imagine what it’s like to live by neighbors who are that into Christmas. How very, as they used to say. If we don’t find anything then we’ll go dark this year. I can live with that, as can my neighbors, I suspect.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sending good wishes for your holiday season to be wonderful, Ally. Living in Southern California, I am used to the sunshine. Hard to imagine what to do if it was a bleak winter outside for too long. I’m sure your decorating and the resulting colors and lights will be cheerful and enlivening!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carla, thanks for your good wishes. I can deal with the grayness in the winter, but this is fall when it should be pretty outside. With clear blue skies most days. However, considering I can’t do a thing about the weather I’ll focus on adding some color outside. If I can figure out what I want…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ally, I recall the year my father died, and I lost my desire to decorate for the holidays. A friend encouraged me, saying that putting some beautiful colors around me would be uplifting. Indeed it did, along with a special event I attended at my church called “Blue Christmas,” which is a liturgical service for people who are grieving during the holidays. The weather is a big deal in my world. I like the sunshine and thrive in it, while cold weather, though beautiful in so many ways, can lower my mood. Writing helps too!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve not heard of a “Blue Christmas” service but I can see how that’d be comforting during the holidays. I, too, find colors to be uplifting, so I understand how your friend’s advice was smart. I like sunshine and it can be beautiful here in the winter when it offsets the naked trees, but too much gray is, well– too much. 😒

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The service was the reason I started attending that church, as I could not find myself able to celebrate wholeheartedly in the aftermath of his death. The church offered me a space to grieve along with observing Advent. Colors are so important! I am quite attached to blue and aqua, as well as purple. I love tiny white lights around the house, and LED candles. May you find some beauty and joy in this season.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. If I ever disappear from my blog, you will know that I picked up some really nasty cancer from exposure to the billions of pounds of toxic Chinese glitter that gets slathered all over EVERY holiday decoration my store sells… and I’m talking Halloween, Valentines Day, Easter and even Fourth of July is a retail holiday now. After a night of stocking the holiday aisle, I look like I just walked out of a really wild night at the local gentleman’s club. Big box stores douse their decorative items in glitter the same way I pour salt on my fries… and neither of those is very healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. evilsquirrel13, good point. Glitter isn’t just for Christmas anymore– and you’d certainly know that. I hope that someday, somehow, it’ll disappear so that you and all of us aren’t exposed to it without our consent. It’s so stupid and messy.

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  15. One person’s bleak is another person’s peaceful 🙂

    I think it’s best to get into the details and make informed decisions about it. Your decision to hold off is a good one. I feel confident that your postponement will yield better results.

    My dad always did the front of the house and I did so enjoy that. He’d trim the eaves and doorway/porch with a colored set and do the bushes in white. Now, in Florida, they have lit palms and festive things and it’s like a party in the yard, which is appropriate to their fun-filled retirement community but would have been ill-advised in our old neighborhood.

    As you know, so much depends on so much else.

    The house I most enjoy every year here is a single-story white house, very basic, post-war-white aluminum with green trim, and they do multi strings on every single door and window, up the sides of their roof, down the porch steps, ramp, banister, and around their walk. The entire house is trimmed in outline. Not a single light out of place. Then their pines and shrubs are lit with tiny white blinking lights, and it’s just right. It’s cheerful, it’s bright, but it’s not too much because it’s a little house and not busy in its lines. I see it pretty much every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and it is the epitome of Christmas for me. In the snow it’s picture perfect. It’s also apparently been owned by the same person since I was a child, or the new owners do it the same. Although over the years it has come round to LED.

    I cannot fathom the amount of planning, time, and effort it takes to make it so perfect.

    (Snidely, she whispers that the neighbors of this resplendently decorated home also cannot fathom. Obviously.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. joey, your neighborhood house with the perfect lights sounds like the sort of home where someone cares a great deal about Christmas. I adore people who do things well and do them well consistently.

      In our neighborhood the house I adore is one with 5 tall pines trees in a cluster by the side of the house. These trees have to be 12-14′ and each tree is covered from top to bottom in one color. The colors are blue, green, red, purple, pink. The effect of this colorful grouping is cheerful and seems perfect juxtaposed against the forest behind the house.

      We’ll not be doing anything as elaborate as what your father did years ago on your family house, nor will we be covering tall trees with lights– BUT I do hope that we can find a few nets to throw over a few bushes so that our home doesn’t look desolate and unfestive.

      I may not be big into Christmas but I do like festive!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. A brick and mortar store? I forget what those are. As for your light dilemma, I’m no help there. I just ordered a two-foot pre-lit tree from QVC that replaces the real two-foot tree I’d buy each year (once I stopped buying, like, five-foot real trees).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, thank you! We found some multicolor net lights that are going to work on the bushes out front. Of course it’s taken us 3 different Lowes and 1 online order from Home Depot to get enough of the lights to make a statement. But I think we’ve got it now. 🎄

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, I’m so far behind in my decorating and it makes me feel very Scrooge-ish. All my neighbors have their lights and wreaths up, and I am the “bleak” one on the block. Hopefully this weekend–but I know what you mean about trying to make decisions about what to purchase. It’s really difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate, I was overwhelmed as I stood there in Lowes trying to figure out what was what. And the prices were all over the place. I’m not big on Christmas exactly, but I do like the house to look slightly festive. Good luck with your decorating this weekend… or the next one! 😉

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