The Cursing of the Lights is the oldest of our holiday traditions, begun back when I was about fifteen years old.
To hear my sister and family tell it, the tradition started because I am a bossy, anal-retentive tree decorator. I say, if I hadn't been careful to anchor a mini-light to every branch, AND made sure the garland was evenly spaced, AND hung each ornament equidistant from each other, ya'll would have had one sorry looking, white trash Christmas tree. (And don't think I didn't hear you calling me "Yukon Cornelius" from the other room while I was trying to put up those &%^#$@ lights.)
Anyway. Here is how The Cursing of the Lights takes place.
1. Remove multiple strands of lights from the storage box. Notice that although they were neatly coiled 11 months ago, they now resemble a macramed pot-bellied pig.
2. Spend 20 minutes unknotting lights, muttering under breath.
3. Plug in lights. Notice that strands #2,3, and 7 do not light at all, and strand #4 blinks to the rhythm of The Twelve Days of Christmas.
4. Spend approximately 87 minutes searching for and replacing blown-out bulbs. Mutter slightly louder.
5. Plug in lights again. Notice that strands #5, 6, and 8 do not light. Do not bother muttering, simply curse loudly.
6. Spend another 20 minutes jiggling cords, wiggling bulbs, and threatening to drive over the lights with the car.
7. Plug in lights again. Rejoice! as all bulbs burn steadily.
8. Put lights on tree, carefully spacing them so as to achieve that coveted department store look.
9. Plug in lights. Say words I didn't know I knew as I see that the middle two strands do not light. Threaten to go postal on the factory where they make Christmas tree lights.
10. Spend 45 minutes jiggling, replacing, muttering, and sweating.
11. Plug in lights again. Rejoice! as all bulbs burn steadily.
12. Go outside and look at tree from 100 yards away, to be sure there are no areas with insufficient lighting. Notice a small area near the right side of the tree that needs adjustment.
13. Return to house, move one bulb to a lower branch.
14. Entire tree, with all 800 bulbs, goes dark.
15. Lose my religion.
However, I am sad to say that this tradition has come to an end at our house. Last Christmas, our thirty-year-old tree developed the artificial pine version of leprosy, which is when random branches fall off if someone exhales in its direction. By this time, the tree was more silver than green due to all the duct tape holding it together. So I hoofed it on over to Tarzhay and got us a brand-new, pre-lit tree. This year, Bunhead put it up all by herself and no one had to repent of using foul language. Something just felt ... missing. Until the dog peed on the tree skirt. Then I got into the *&%@# holiday spirit.