(With apologies to Mary Norton!)
I started out this morning as La Befana. Literally. After breakfast I was out on the front porch with my broom, having moved the chairs and the glass table out to the driveway, whisking away leaves, dirt, and bits from previous decorations. It's the first Sunday of Advent, time to start Christmas preparations and sweep all the old liturgical year away. Advent is a waiting time.
James soon popped down the stairs to decant the Christmas lights from the garage. While he was putting together the Moravian star and untangling the lights, I pulled out the pruning shears and trimmed the two bushes on either side of the St. Francis statue; you could barely see him because the bushes had put out so many shoots which I never had time to prune. You can see him now, at least from the front walk (the bushes in front of him are still too high). I then started to stretch out the blue lights to go on the tops of the bushes.
Putting up the lights takes some thinking because you have to make sure all the electrical plugs face in the proper direction. Last year James put up one of the light sets upside down and the male end of the plug was at the top rather than at the bottom where it needed to be. So for a while you are just like the "linemen" who, back in the days when electric Christmas lights were invented, had to come to your house to professionally install the lighting "outfits."
This year James bought some tree wraparounds for the columns instead of our having to wind the lights around. A good thing, too, because, along with the two strings of lights where half the lights were out, we had three other strings of lights that would not work! Bizarre because they worked all of December and the beginning of January last year! Luckily I had bought two more blue strings last year and another two this year.
We had all sorts of problems, the last which almost sent us fleeing to Lowes until James' trusty mototool solved it. The most miserable one was the wretched sun. We should have been up earlier; by the time we began the sun was already swinging around toward the front of the house and was in my eyes. Clapped on a baseball cap and plodded grimly on. Finally by 1 p.m. it was all up and we were starving. Did one more thing before we left: went back to being La Befana again and swept out the garage! Drove out to Folks at Hiram for lunch and popped in quickly to Five Below, then drove to Lowes anyway to get a shorter extension cord. I bought a new timer which can supposedly be set up many different ways, and a heavy-duty triple tap to use with the old timer in case it didn't work. Also stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond to use coupons.
Miserably warm all afternoon, up to 74°F, and the sun felt like needles in my skin. Wretched weather anytime, but in December it is particularly heinous.
Oh, heavens, when we got home one of the net lights on a column had come free and was starting to fall down. James' stars, which he bought at Ikea, had also come unplugged. He had to climb up the ladder again to re-fasten them, and then I messed with the timer. I thought I set it up perfectly, but it kept turning itself off, so I finally just turned it on and will shut it off at bedtime and mess with it again tomorrow. Everything must always be complicated.
One change is definitely for the better: we always strung a set of blue lights between the columns, and they overwhelmed the lighter blue of the Moravian star. This year we set it up a bit differently, with the Ikea snowflakes (a pale white) strung between the columns. This shows up the Moravian star to better advantage. The colored columns brighten up the unrelieved blue.
Finally James got down all the Christmas boxes for me so I could at least put the candoliers in the two front windows, glowing a jolly blue.
Incidentally, so much for LED Christmas lights! Every single LED light set we had had a dozen or more light bulbs out!!! Bad enough the miniature lights are cheap Chinese crap, but the "long life LEDs" sure aren't! Not to mention that without the blue LEDs, the blue bulbs look ethereal again rather than radiation blue.
So Advent has begun, and with it Christmas preparations, when the house makes its long, long turnover from autumn to Yule.