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The high ceiling prompted a pledge to erect the highest Christmas tree available. That was five years ago. With little risk and loads of frustration, towering tannenbaums have since become a tradition. Over that period, theyve reached from 12 to 15 feet high. Finding a colossal coniferous has never posed a challenge. Stringing the lights, however, has. That usually prompts enough anger and cursing to get you deemed naughty for life. With a tree that size, it takes hours and hours to wrap five or six strands of lights from top to bottom. And theres always that set of mini-bulbs that dont work once on the tree even though the string had been checked more than the big guys list. Arrgghhh! This year proved to be the most trying one yet from a tree-lighting perspective. After finding a 13-foot balsam fir, squeezing it through the door, waiting for it to dry and erecting it in the stand, it was time to light er up. The first set worked and was carefully wrapped around the top. The second, third, and fourth strings of mini-bulbs, however, didnt light up. And so began the festive frustration. (Insert deep sigh here.) Every tiny bulb on each cord had to be methodically checked to see if it was working. That took 90 bulb-plucking minutes, and led to the conclusion two sets of lights were fit for the pit, and (curse under your breath here) a trip to the store was in the immediate future. Trekking to a shop the Saturday before Christmas was about as appealing as a New Years polar bear dip in St. Johns harbour. At the store, after scouring through leftover lights and lining up for what seemed like a month of Boxing Days, two sets of lights were thrown on an already reeling debit card. Grrrr...It was now three hours after that first set of lights was tested. Back at the tree, the new bulbs lit up the outer limbs, but the inner boughs remained dimmer than hopes Jordache jeans are making a comeback. Another trek to the store was required. (Use expletive of choice here.) Throwing the tree through the window was seriously considered. So was lighting it with a flick of the Bic and packing it in for the day. But it was just as well to stay the course and waste what was left of this one. By now, the pickings were even slimmer at the shop, but two more strings of bulbs were found. This had now consumed six freakin hours! By the time the new sets were wrapped around the inside of the tree, another hour had passed. Then, of course, came the search for an extension cord to plug em in. When all was done and perfected to the point of seasonal satisfaction, the lights had eaten up eight hours. Yes, the tall tree was glowing brightly, but your blogger was completely burnt out. @@@ Being Christmas Eve, many who read this will also be exhausted from Holiday preparations. Heres hoping you get a chance to relax over the next couple of days and enjoy the merriest of Christmases.

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