November 29th, 2009
07:49 AM ET

Dear President Obama #314: The burden is the lights

Reporter's Note: President Obama, I’m pretty sure, does not have to help decorate the White House for Christmas. Yet another advantage he has over most of the rest of us.

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Well, I told you last week that I was going to get all the Christmas lights up at our house over this weekend, and I must sadly report that it has been a mess. Last year I cut through giant, Gordian knots of wires, haunted by the ghosts of many Christmases past, to separate all of the working strands from those countless others that suffered from a variety of maladies. Some lit up along the wire near the plug, some in the middle, some at the far end. Some inexplicably came on, then went off, then four minutes later blinked furiously. Some simply sat there, dark and mysterious, like a girlfriend I once had when she descended into a foul mood. And a few did what they were supposed to do: They glowed cheerily as soon as I plugged them in, and they stayed that way.

So I gently put aside these “nice” strands; gathered up all of the naughty ones, and threw them into the trash. Finally, I thought, my Christmas lighting display woes will be at an end. I put up the winners; the house looked magnificent; and I carefully took them all down after Christmas and packed them away. So you can imagine my consternation when I pulled them out this weekend to find, once again, about half of them are not working! Arghhh!

I toyed with the idea of individually cutting them down to “the good parts” and then splicing all of those together to create, once again, complete strands of Christmas joy. But that proved impractical. So now, I am considering one of three drastic moves.

1) I go to the store and purchase replacements for the whole lot; a vast collection of those new LED Christmas lights that seem to burn so brilliantly and use less energy to boot.

2) I convert to another faith that doesn’t require so much cheeriness.

Or 3) I don’t put up any Christmas lights this year.

Suffice to say, I need to close this out and get going. The store is not open all night. Oh well … both the economy and the environment can use the help.

Call if you can. I’ll have my cell phone, and no matter the hour, chances are good I’ll be in the yard and eager for a break.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Brandon

    I wonder if the whitehouse will be using LED lighting as an example of saving energy?

    As far as the options go....you can go for not putting up the lights. If you celebrate christmas for the religious aspect then lights are not required (one of the options did mention converting to a different religion).

    When you look at the history of how christmas came to be half of it especially the parts American's really truely celebrate comes from pagen traditions....funny...

    November 29, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  2. Paulette

    I feel the couple who crashed the White House Party should be prosecuted. They are freaks seeking publicity and trying to create havoc with President Obama"s security staff. They need to be labeled as felons and disgraced.

    November 29, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  3. Lori

    Good luck. Mine are up.

    November 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  4. alexlyrics

    For those who can afford to decorate or run extra electricity during the holidays.

    President Obama should set some example for the economy, and set up solar or some form of energy saving example for those who have hit hard times.

    But then again, why should he be denied his first year the luxury's of other presidents before him.

    God bless President Obama, and his family for taking on such a tough job.

    November 29, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  5. Deanna Maher

    I love your version of Christmas lights...it is the worst chore during the holiday season of all others. I know personally and will admit now that the "guys" have the raw deal in this particular "division of labor". I am now a single grandmother who has chosen to live in my own home located within a typical neighborhood of married couples with families. I now the work inside AND outside (except mowing the lawn, which is done by a neighborhood kid). While married, I would NEVER do what I do now, and for sure, not the lights. I always thought I had the worst jobs, and certainly putting up lights was a piece of cake! I admit now, as I just put up the connected "good" lights which sparkled and then died, it is the WORST job during the holidays. Now I understand the frustrations vented by the men in my life, which I always believed to be totally unnecessary. I am now part of your "guys" club who put up the lights, but I also do the cooking and preparations for the kids and grandkids for days ahead. My conversation with my son-in-law on Thanksgiving was not your typical one. We discussed our mutual agreement that when even one light on a string goes bad, it is better to pitch the whole string in the trash than try to replace with the bulbs provided. This is coming from a member of the Savers and Maintenance Generation, not the modern Disposal Generation. It was a unique moment for us to bridge our generational gap. We agreed that pitching an "at-risk" string of lights and buying new is indeed the most fiscally responsible approach, and more importantly, healthier for family harmony during the holidays.

    Best regards, Grandma Dee

    November 29, 2009 at 10:13 am |
  6. William of Iowa

    Go for the LED strands, you can hook up about 87 to an outlet. You will save energy. You will replace less bulbs, they don't burn out as bad. Use your head, like the President does by having others decorate. Maybe some day CNN will pay you enough to hire (lots of folks need work) help in decorating.

    November 29, 2009 at 9:21 am |