I Didn’t Do Much… But Christmas Is 35 Days Away

This past week I was on Staycation. Honestly, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I enjoyed time with my family, had a lot of days of just Darwin and I. While my wife and youngest went out to Calgary, I watched his races on the live stream. Which were probably better than being in person as the cameras were ice side. Plus I wasn’t in a cold rink.

Normally if my wife leaves for a weekend, I get antsy and start some major project. Not this weekend. I did take some extra Christmas lights and put them around our gazebo. I mixed the red my wife wanted and the white that I wanted and am pretty happy with how it looks.

I had told my wife last week that I only wanted to put up two of our four artificial Christmas trees. Before they left, she asked that I don’t put up our living room tree until the start of December. I did put up one of the trees we have- I put it up in her office. She was happy went I sent the picture to her. It means we will be putting up a third tree in our basement now.

My wife doesn’t like the idea of downsizing our trees. So moving from four to three really isn’t so bad. We did three trees before. That generally works better for us. One is our elegant tree, one is the kids tree (all those handmade and silly ornaments collected over the years), and our third is usually just the ornaments we like, but they don’t quite go on either of the other two trees (yet we cannot get rid of the ornaments). A fourth tree is just too much. Mostly we just had lights and it would be outside

I enjoyed my time off. Now it’s back to the grind. At least until my next week of vacation at Christmas.

I Didn’t Do Much… But Christmas Is 35 Days Away

This past week I was on Staycation. Honestly, I didn’t do much out of the ordinary. I enjoyed time with my family, had a lot of days of just Darwin and I. While my wife and youngest went out to Calgary, I watched his races on the live stream. Which were probably better than being in person as the cameras were ice side. Plus I wasn’t in a cold rink.

Normally if my wife leaves for a weekend, I get antsy and start some major project. Not this weekend. I did take some extra Christmas lights and put them around our gazebo. I mixed the red my wife wanted and the white that I wanted and am pretty happy with how it looks.

I had told my wife last week that I only wanted to put up two of our four artificial Christmas trees. Before they left, she asked that I don’t put up our living room tree until the start of December. I did put up one of the trees we have- I put it up in her office. She was happy went I sent the picture to her. It means we will be putting up a third tree in our basement now.

My wife doesn’t like the idea of downsizing our trees. So moving from four to three really isn’t so bad. We did three trees before. That generally works better for us. One is our elegant tree, one is the kids tree (all those handmade and silly ornaments collected over the years), and our third is usually just the ornaments we like, but they don’t quite go on either of the other two trees (yet we cannot get rid of the ornaments). A fourth tree is just too much. Mostly we just had lights and it would be outside

I enjoyed my time off. Now it’s back to the grind. At least until my next week of vacation at Christmas.

Lights!

With the help of a friend today- our outside Christmas lights went up. I’m really happy with our new lights. I’m also glad that my friend Greg did the hard part.

I have a healthy fear of heights. Or rather a fear of falling from heights. Greg brought his harness and locked into the roof anchors. Afterwards he did tell me that it was kind of frosty in the one side and pushed his comfort zone as well.

I like the look of the lights. There is one spot that I’m going to correct tomorrow. Can you guess which location that is? It’s the one dark spot on the upper peak. That’s where the two strands of lights connect. I can leave it for the night. Because it’s cold and dark.

A big thank you again to Greg for his help. I probably wouldn’t have gotten the lights done without him. Now it’s starting to feel like Christmas.

Light Dusting

Overnight there was a light dusting of snow that fell. The sudden drop in temperature and weather changes came as a bit of a surprise. Last week’s windstorm and torrential rainfall was already challenging. The snow and cold temperatures made me realize that I needed to wrap our palm tree in order to save it for next summer.

The brisk air and chilled sky made the city skyline in the distance a bit more visible. With a lovely mountain backdrop, it hardly seemed real. Especially to be able to see it from our backyard. I expect to see more snow on the mountains as the season gets colder.

Over the next few days it should be sunny, but cool. After I protect our palm tree, I’ll be putting up the outside Christmas lights before it gets really miserable outside. That way when December is upon us- I can enjoy the lights as darkness takes over most of the days as we approach the Winter Solstice.

Appreciating the season can be tough. Finding the moments that can bring you pleasure or working towards them is challenging. I like the end result and try my best to accept when I can’t control something- like the weather.

City Christmas Lights

As the days remain darker for longer, I love the look of lights that fill the night. Especially as Christmas approaches, more and more people put up lights to brighten our lives.

I also love it when each city transforms their Main Street into a bright display of magic. The trees that line the sidewalks get adorned with glowing bulbs, lighting the street up in an almost daylight fashion.

I’ve always appreciated the spectacle that comes with Christmas and the season in general. When I was a child living in Edmonton, I would fall asleep staring out my window at the lights up and down the street. There was one lightbulb that I would fall asleep watching just outside my window. It was an old glass bulb that was red in colour. Over the years, I watched as the paint slowly chipped off.

Now we have LED lights that glow brighter for longer. There’s still a sense of awe, yet it feels even more artificial than it once was.

Do you like the look of Christmas lights as they fill the night?

Bear Creek Park Lights

Since moving from Langley and into Surrey, my wife and I have been doing our best to explore what this new city has to offer. One of the best things about Surrey is the parks. They are bountiful and beautifully maintained. There is a lot of green space to explore. Last night we wandered around Bear Creek Park and enjoyed the ambiance.

The City of Surrey had set up a walking path of Lights and Nature. Tickets are free and available at Bear Creek Park Lights. Currently they are set for 200 attendees every half hour. The event is currently scheduled to run from November 5th to the 19th.

The walk itself is about a half kilometer. Which took us about twenty minutes as we stopped for plenty of photos. It wasn’t busy mind you on a Tuesday night. Normally there are food trucks, but this year they said you could bring a snack, just take the trash with you as it is a park. I microwaved a couple bags of popcorn and we snacked as we wandered the park.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable and we had a good time. I’d recommend it to anyone for an evening out with family or friends.

Jump Start The Christmas Decorating

Yesterday I was in the attic above the garage putting away the Halloween decorations. I figured that while I was up there I might as well bring down the Christmas decorations.

My wife happily dove into the boxes in order to see what we owned. We both sort of remember everything, but that was also laid out in our previous house. It was time to see how to create a new layout for our current home.

Today, I took advantage again of the break in the rain. Turns out the amount of exterior Christmas lights we had on our old place will fit nicely on our new home. Since we will be here for years to come, I thought it was best to add hooks and clips.

Before the night rolled in, I was able to get the majority of the lights up. There is one peak remaining to do. That is the highest and most terrifying one. I may have to “Phone a Friend” in order to get these last 25 lights put up. So far, my wife and I are enjoying the way it looks. Very festive and gingerbread-esque.

Are you ready to put up your outdoor lights for Christmas? Or do you just leave them up all year long?

Christmas at Williams Park

Every year, Williams Park in Langley puts on a Christmas light display. This is the 30th year. Driving through the park is our yearly tradition. We try and view it the weekend before Christmas.

For an event that is done by volunteers, it is laid out almost the same every year. Which is great because I like that I can count on it being the same. It brings a familiarity to the holidays.

Because Covid restrictions have cancelled large gatherings- the park had more vehicles arrive last week than it could handle. So for us to see it this week, we signed up online for a time slot. I’m glad we did because the spaces are all taken for this final weekend of lights.

This isn’t one of those shows where you pay an exorbitant amount of money for an Instagramable experience; this is all done by volunteers and donated lights. At the end of the drive through the park, we donated some money- as we do every year.

Afterwards, we drive around the town and look for beautiful displays that people put up. It’s always a great family bonding time as we listen to Christmas songs and share stories of the past.

If You Can’t Find It- Make It

For a couple of years I have been searching out a specific type of clip to hold my outdoor Christmas lights. I always remember to look for them when the season starts at the various stores. But I haven’t seen them in almost three decades. It was when we first moved in that I had used the few we had left over as well as a clip that was close in shape. That clip was far more flimsy, almost intentional so I would need to replace them more often.

The Christmas light clip a simple design. The wires go through the zigzag and hold in place. I like how sturdy these clips are. Unlike the other ones I picked up that have snapped over the years, leaving my lights dangling down. This design was one my father had picked up back in the 90’s.

Because I was unable to find the clips in the store or online, my wife suggested I 3D print them. Brilliant! I went on Thingiverse and someone had uploaded exactly what I needed! I was so happy! So many exclamation marks!!! But in order to make them sturdy, I couldn’t speed up the print. 33 minutes it takes to print one. I need close to twenty replacement pieces. Good thing Christmas is a few weeks away.

As I searched online for the clips, I was in the middle of printing off another great item that will make life easier. I also didn’t know I needed it until I saw it…

I printed a battery dispenser for all my loose “AA” batteries. It holds 12 batteries in the lower part, and has a separate extension to hold more. Now instead of searching the junk drawer the batteries will have a happy little home and I can see when we get low..

Having a 3D printer is fun and has become very versatile in my day to day use. I wonder what else I should print?

Lights!  Lights!  And More Lights!

I love the night time.  I always have.  It’s part of the reason I am ok working the nighshift.  There’s something beautiful about the artificial lighting that we put on to see.  When we do road trips, I’m the one who does the late night driving as well.  Something soothing and calming about city lights on the horizon as they close in.

Neon lights are also some of my favorite things.  I used to want my name written in a neon light- Joe that’d be cool.  Or maybe some old arcade neon like Atari.  But I do own a couple neon lamps that were once in my man cave, but are now stored away.  I should bring them out again sometime.  But now there are Christmas lights out.  Everywhere.

Remember glass bulbs?


When I was a child, I used to lay in my bed and stare at the Christmas lights outside my window.  Sometimes I’d leave my NHL hockey team curtains open to watch as I fell asleep.  I have no idea why I had NHL curtains and matching bedding.  I was never into sports.

In the time of glass bulbs and frigid days, sometimes there’d be a light or two that twinkled at random from the eaves.  Out on the streets, at every home you looked upon, there’d also be a bulb burnt out at some point.  In the frigid temperatures of Edmonton, Alberta- people would be in too much of a hurry after work to get into the warmth of their home than bother changing a bulb.  It was also neat to see the paint peel off of a bulb as the season went on.

Over the past decade or so, LED lights are everywhere.  Brighter colours, longer lasting, and no need to change a single bulb anymore.  And cheaper to run!  One of our first electrical bills after putting up old bulbs was nearly four times higher than our regular bill.

I put our outside lights up a month ago in order to avoid the rain and cold that Vancouver has to offer before winter arrives.  

Decorations set up.


This week, I have put up the garland and lights inside our home.  Everything is getting festive.  Our four trees (yes four full sized artificial trees) are set up with lights and ready to be adorned with ornaments this weekend.  Decorating in stages.  By next Wednesday, everything should be ready to rock until mid January.


The first few years of being with my wife, she would send me out on Christmas Eve with her brothers to drive around and look at the Christmas displays.  Mind you, these were full grown adults who just wanted to get out of the house for a cigarette and make fun of my driving.  A couple threats of “You better treat our sister really good- or else”.  I think this was in jest at the time, but I’m a tad afraid to leave my wife- even sixteen years after meeting her.  My wife and I kept the tradition up of taking our kids out to see people’s displays.

This season, we are planning on heading out again to see the lights.  Every year, people are getting more and more creative.  I love it.  It’s always fun.  Here’s a classic video of one of the first homes to set music to their lights- thus dawning the next generation of Griswolds.

Trans Siberian Orchestra 2009