My mom and I are what my dad lovingly calls “Christmas Nazis.”
We can’t help it. We love Christmas. The music, the tree, the presents, the snow…it’s all so magical!
I will admit, though, that the lights can be extremely annoying. They flicker, half of them go out, they fade… Especially the LED. Always the LED. My mom has fought a vicious battle for years with her LED lights on the tree.
There were some years that I would be the one decorating the yard. I would lovingly hang lights in the trees, shrubs and along the driveway. This required a great deal of extension cords. All of my dad’s cords, save two or three, had probably been purchased during the Truman administration.
They were old, frayed, and dangerous. One of them nearly killed me.
It was around New Year’s. I went outside to shut the lights off. I unplugged the cord from the outlet, only to discover that the one of the prongs had detached from the ancient cord and was stuck in the outlet.
My mom and dad did exactly what any parent would do.
I was told to call my grandpa for safety advice.
This is my Grandpa. He is a nice, kind, generous soul who at one point was the bishop of an LDS congregation (bishop=pastor) and would give you the shirt off of his back if you asked.
He was also an electrician by trade. And…well…he was a completely different person when he was wiring fuses and installing electrical boxes.
I should have realized that anything he said regarding electrical things was bound to be tainted by years of bitterness and rage at being shocked repeatedly. But I didn’t.
He told me, “Just make sure you’re standing on a rubber mat, and that the pliers you use to pull it out need to have rubber handles.”
So I went outside again, this time with pliers. My mom and dad were watching television in the living room.
I took the pliers, and reached towards the offending prong. I don’t know what happened next, so I will have to take my parents’ word for it.
They were sharing a romantic moment in front of the TV, staring deeply into each other’s eyes, perhaps preparing to kiss, when:
The lights dimmed, the TV shut off, and a flash outside turned night into day. A shrill scream rent the peaceful winter evening.

The smell of ozone crackled through the air.

I wish I could tell you my parents ran to my side, perhaps weeping over my prostrate form, doing everything they could to revive me. When I finally regained consciousness and went inside, however, I was greeted by THIS:

Whenever people tell me my parents are great people, I think of this story.

I did get the prong out; oh yes, I did. It melted a quarter of an inch off the pliers. My dad still has them as a keepsake and he giggles madly whenever he comes across them. We also couldn’t use that particular outlet. It had become black, charred, and rather unsafe.
To this day, I do not like New Year’s.