It was in December, the 8th or 12th, and I was in 8th Grade. I was anxious to get the Christmas lights up. We lived in a colonial style house and each year my parents would put an electric candle in each window in the front of the house. My father told me I was “rushing the season,” but if I insisted I could do it. And I wonder where my kids get it from. After school I dug out the candles and put them in place. As I was finishing, my mother arrived home from working at Lord and Taylor with a coat for me to try on. She suggested I go outside to test the coat’s warmth as it was a windy, blustery winter evening. I went outside and had the opportunity to admire the lights in the windows.
Back inside, I could hear a sound coming from my parent’s bedroom. I asked my mother if she heard it and she said “It’s probably just the wind.” A few minutes later I heard it again and went upstairs to investigate. The entire wall of the room was engulfed in flames. By the time the fire department arrived the fire was in the walls of the house. The heat was so intense, the window glass melted. Turns out one of the candle cord was damaged and it set fire to the drapes.
That night, when my father arrived home from work, we all moved into the family room for the night. The firemen had suggested we stay in a hotel since the fire might still be in the walls. I think money was an issue so we stayed at home. I couldn’t sleep, and watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, on TV and scared myself royally.
Although my parents did a really good job of not laying on the guilt, the moral of the story from my childhood is, “Don’t rush the season.” My dad died when I was 16, but I can still hear him saying it. I don’t like the holiday hype anyway, so we don’t decorate until Christmas week. I do start the Christmas music on December 1st, though.
On a brighter note. I took this from our driveway. A rainy climate makes for good contrast.