A few weekends ago, Steph and I were taking down the Christmas lights that we had hung outside of our home. The weather warmed up on a Saturday (Woo-Hoo!) and with the sun shining we got it all cleaned up rather quickly. This made me think of a lesson I learned when we were putting the Christmas Tree up this year that I wanted to share.
We put up the tree early this year (Black Friday to be exact), and when we got it all put together and connected the lights, the middle section did not light up at all. The tree disassembles into 3 separate pieces that stack together when the tree is standing. The bottom of the tree lit up beautifully when we put it into the base and plugged it in. Next, we added the middle and then the top. We connected the top and the middle together and then the middle to the bottom and the then the top lit up too. We now had a tree with an entire section of lights not working. This was fairly aggravating (near infuriating honestly) because just the year before the top section died on us. We wrapped 2 strings of lights around it to “band-aid” it, but we never found the bulb(s) that were the culprits. The tree was new 2 Christmases ago and already 2 sections have died. Well, I got pretty frustrated and I told Steph “I’m going to go plant this tree in the backyard, and we’ll run to town and buy a new one. I don’t need this getting ready for Christmas.”
I sat there for what seemed like 10 minutes, and just stared at that tree. I was thinking that if we throw this tree away, what will we do with it and exactly how much is a new one going to cost? After some cooling off and some consideration, I told Steph that we’re going to fix this tree. That’s exactly what we did. We unplugged the entire tree and started from the top and worked our way down to the bottom removing lights. This sounds easy, and that’s what we thought at first. What we didn’t know beforehand was that each string of lights running through the branches were both zip-tied and clipped to each and every branch. It quite literally took 4-5 hours with needle nose pliers and wire cutters to remove all of the lights. There it sat, on top of hundreds of broken clips and zip-ties, a tree without lights.
Fortunately for us, our next problem was pretty much solved for us once we did the work of getting the lights off of the tree. A day or two before, I had received an email from Walmart that we had about $20 in store credit, so we ran up to our local Walmart and bought $20 worth of Christmas lights. Steph and I have been using the Walmart Saving’s Catcher feature of their smartphone app to scan all of our receipts and had built up that much in savings over the last few months. We made it back home and started unboxing the new lights. After we got done wrapping them around the tree, we plugged them in and took a step back. Those lights worked perfectly for our tree and only took 10 minutes to unbox, plug-in and string around the tree. We had a working Christmas tree this year with $0 out of pocket.
The moral of the story is this: Sometimes when we’re angry, tired or just not having a good day, we all make rash decisions that can seriously cost us. Slow down and take some time to think and a better way of handling things will come to you. This year, it saved us $200 and a headache before Christmas.
Bonus (Related: The Picture Above): When we were wrapping up our strands of Christmas lights, we found a great way to store them so they don’t bunch up. Just put one end into a clipping clothes hanger and wrap them around until almost all of the strand is wrapped around the hanger and then clip the other end into the other side. This way, you can store them safely, unwrap them cleanly and even test them before you unwrap them!