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Why do Christmas decorations suck?

Date/Time Permalink: 12/03/06 09:47:26 am
Category: General

I have spent all day yesterday doing the Holiday decorating for the household. The tree, the outside lights, the whole thing. And they look pretty decent, but at the cost of struggling with poor product design all day long.

Why can we not make a light string which is good for more than one use? Are we supposed to just chuck the decorations every year after we take them down and buy new ones next year? And my whole house doesn't go dark just because one light bulb burnt out. Yet, for twenty years, we haven't come up with a better solution for light strings than to have me sit there changing one bulb at a time until I find the one that's making the whole string refuse to light.

This year I bought a couple of thick plastic lighting strips for the exterior trim. The problem I didn't foresee is that the strips are stiff as steel, packed in a coil in the box. Uncoiling them requires a can of spinach and Popeye. I would compare them to the fat cables under the raised floor of a mainframe computer room for pliability, except that you have to wrestle with them while clinging to a ladder on the side of your house trying to tack them on with the flimsy clips that pop off when you're reaching for the next one. Trying to hold down three in a row stretched out vertically along the roof edge required both hands and one leg, but I figured if I kicked down the ladder I could always swing down to the ground holding one end of the light strip like Tarzan. And I bet next year half of them will be burned out, too.

And one more thing about light strings: for such a simple invention, they sure do have to knock themselves out reinventing the concept of the plug and socket. I have about twelve kinds of light strings for inside and out, and they all have to have a different plug scheme. two-prong, three-prong, a connector at both ends or just one, or special shapes that can only connect to special adapters you have to buy separate. AC electricity has been with us for over a century, now; I think we have explored all necessary variations on the electric plug.

And can anybody make a Christmas tree ornament that survives two whole Christmases? Just from sitting quietly in a box in the basement for eleven months, ornaments manage to shatter, stain, fray, bend, and chip themselves without anybody touching them. Half of them are incapable of supporting their own weight from the little hanger wire. There's something wrong when my kids can make their own ornaments and these homemade creations survive longer (and sometimes look better) than the best kind money can buy out of a catalog.

So that's my little Andy Rooney rant. I'm sure I have reassured my fellow weekend warriors out there that they are not alone.

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