My mom and I are what my dad lovingly calls “Christmas Nazis.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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My mom and dad did exactly what any parent would do.
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I was told to call my grandpa for safety advice.
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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.
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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:
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The lights dimmed, the TV shut off, and a flash outside turned night into day. A shrill scream rent the peaceful winter evening.
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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:
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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.
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