Last Sunday, one of Jeff's best friends, Chad, came over to hang out. I figured he was there to watch some football with Jeff. So when Chad arrived, we all chit chatted a bit, I made sure Jeff was in a good place, and then I headed back to the bedroom. You see, I had a plan. With Jeff occupied with Chad and football, and Evie with my Dad at the park, I planned to do something I'd wanted to do for over a week...
Paint my fingernails.
The simple act of applying lacquer to my nails is tricky for me in terms of timing. There's so much hands-on stuff I do for Jeff (and Evie!) that I have to be strategic when I do it.
So I figured I had at least a good hour. I sat down with a happy sigh and began to apply the paint.
I got two nails done when the doorbell rang.
"Ughhh" I sighed as I got up and started down the hall. Much to my surprise, Chad answered the door. And in walked another friend, Dave. Chad and Dave pretended to be surprised to see one another and exchanged a knowing glance.
Something was up.
But still, I figured they were both here to hang out, drink beer, and watch football with Jeff. I gave Dave a hasty hug, and fled back to the bedroom eager to pick up with the manicure.
I got two more nails done when the doorbell rang ... AGAIN.
"Oh my god. I'm never going to get this done!" I said through gritted teeth. As I made my way down the hall, I could hear a new voice. Another friend had clearly joined the party, and this friend was Keith.
By the time I got out to the living room, Chad, Dave, and Keith were all standing around Jeff with little smirks on their faces.
Jeff and my words overlapped:
"What's going on?"
"You guys are up to something."
Lots of side glances were exchanged.
"We're here to put up some Christmas lights for you."
Jaws dropped. "Are you serious?"
My first thought was Oh Crap. We only have one string of lights in the garage that measures 24 feet. Not nearly enough to fit around the house. I know this because the weekend before, Jeff's parents had visited, and we got out said lights, took them outside, determined they weren't long enough, said Oh Well, and put them back in the bin in the garage. Plus, me getting on a ladder to take down Christmas lights after the holidays was out of the question.
Before I could even mention our measly light collection, we were reassured that our friends brought everything necessary to turn our house into Santa's village.
My second thought had to do with me on a ladder taking everything down. Again, I was reassured that they would be back to do cleanup as well.
My mom, Jeff, and I all stared at them - and each other - in awed silence. Jeff and I looked at one another with amazement. My mom and I hugged and cried over the holiday surprise that had just landed, literally, on our doorstep. The elves just giggled, happy they were able to pull off their ambush. And off they went.
They headed outside and immediately began discussing decor options. I was on hand to point out nearest electrical outlets, and Jeff was wheeling around the front yard, sure to put in his two cents' worth. There were buckets filled with strings of lights, extension cords, and extra bulbs. Ladders, staple guns, and zip ties were strewn about the lawn. Beers were opened all around. Apparently this was going to be a serious operation.
Keith brought his two kids, and when Evie returned from the park to see her friends in her front yard waiting for her, she was beyond thrilled. They all three played amidst the chaos of Christmas paraphernalia.
Of course, I documented the whole thing.
Deep in discussion of Holiday Decor 101
The hanging has begun
Time out for a quick smooch
The kids loved playing and helping
That's some serious decorating
Time out for a beer
Keith, the orchestrator of this ambush, adds some finishing touches
The kids watching Frosty and listening to Christmas carols in Keith's car
Wow - we have some really great friends.
Lots of smiles.
The movies and Christmas music blasting from Keith's car ran down the battery! No fear - Keith was prepared and used this gizmo to start his car at the end of the day!
After a few hours of hard work mixed with some much needed social interaction with these friends of ours, the elves packed up and headed back home to their families. And our family headed inside to anxiously await sunset when we were told that, like magic, the lights would come to life.
And at 5 o'clock, as promised, our front yard illuminated. Evie announced in a booming voice, "THE LIGHTS ARE OOOOOOON! THEY'RE BEAUUUUUUUUTIFUL!"
We stepped out the front door and were met with the warm glow of holiday goodness.
Evie danced like a sprite under the lights, and we all oohed and aahed at the transformation of our home. The holiday spirit was certainly felt by all.
Later that night, Evie went to bed early having been pooped out by the excitement of the day. And we got Jeff back to bed early as well. It was a tiring but fun day for everyone. In the late evening, I found myself with some rare alone time. So I decided to head back outside again, this time alone, to look at the lights. And in their reflections I saw the real meaning behind these lights.
They were a labor of true friendship. The three men who hung those lights were my husband's arms and legs that day providing our family with a message of love and support. They sacrificed time with their own families to help ours. And that left us feeling the comfort that surrounds you when you know you are loved.
I wish I could bottle that feeling. I wish I could adequately explain what that feels like. It's a form of love you only know when you've been through something that turns your world upside down. It's what grabs ahold of you and pulls you back. It's the thing that rights your world once more.
I went back inside, leaving the lights to shine on in the dark.
With my family all safe and sound and snug in their beds, I fell asleep with a happy heart ... and all 10 of my nails painted a lovely shade of pink.