If you use a Christmas tree bulb on anything other than your own Christmas tree, it has a half life of only three days. I reached this conclusion as I was working on my employers Christmas Light Parade float. How is it that on Thursday every bulb works, then one hour before showtime when plugged in, it looks like it was used for target practice at a wild west show?
When our company float committee set out to make our halogen masterpiece, the only thing we could agree on was that it needed lights. That’s the problem with committees, they know what has to be done, but not how to do it! So much paper was used in drafting our float creation, that we had to switch to etch-a-sketches. It was the politically correct thing to do as it would conserve tree pulp so future generations could draft their own floats one day too.
The best way to describe a team assembling a float is like this: Take a marriage of 25 years, take out all the good times, leave in all the irritations and compact it into one week. Our group which exuded all the camaraderie of Sesame Street on Monday, regressed to the Dirty Dozen with a bad attitude by Friday. It wasn’t a total loss. We again reached a consensus that the float needed more lights. So much for the Sesame Street cooperation.
Two days before the “big day”, we picked our design democratically, the boss chose it. Two pieces of plywood, four feet of calico fabric, two twig reindeer and 20,000 light bulbs later, we assembled our creation. We meant for our float to look like a house in the north pole. Instead, it looked like a railroad diner for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. But we did what any parent does when they receive crayon art from their children, we stuck out our chest and faked feelings of pride. The worse part of the float was the interior of the little house, There were so many extension cords and green electric wires that it looked like the Jolly Green Giant with varicose veins.
To make a float appear more natural at parade time, we placed the happiest employees we had (at that time) atop the float. We were happy to have both of them. With temperatures dipping into the 20’s and a generator that died 100 yards from the finish line, we had to be creative at reviving our volunteers. We gave them coffee intravenously so they could be brought back from their cryogenic state.
Would I do another Christmas float again? Absolutely! I figure, whatever curve life throws me, I can bear it smiling because I was part of a float committee. Now the most immediate hurdle I face at work is making new friends. If I don’t do that, I’ll be doing next year’s float all alone with a miner’s helmet and duct tape. The upside is if that happens, at least I can brag the committee finally voted on something unanimously.