My mom made Christmas everything it was. Even well into my twenties and thirties, it continued to be the high point of my year, from her phenomenal decorations, to her elaborate meals, to her thoughtful gifts. She made everyone feel the spirit of the holidays, and made us all so very happy. Sadly, those Christmases ended in 2010 or so as dementia began to strip her nature from her. This year things have progressed to the point that she no longer seems to know who I am, beyond being vaguely familiar. So it is hard not to feel a bit lost during the holiday season. So much that was good is gone. And without her leading the seasonal charge, it's hard to know what to do. I do not feel up to the challenge of replacing her. But this year I did want to try to do something special for her, to try and prove that her legacy continues, that I can take on the responsibility, that I can carry on her traditions. In reality it is too little and too late, but the effort gives me a bit of peace and I am hoping that there might be some flicker of remembrance, or at least some novel joy.
To this end, the first step in my Christmas plans was to erect the biggest Christmas light display I could. I've never decorated the outside of a house for Christmas, but I felt inspired to try and run lights up the large 70' tree in our front yard. I wanted to turn it into a virtual Christmas tree, running the lights up as high as I could. I spent a few weeks planning it and today spent all day today doing it. I strung lights up in the shape of a Christmas tree, 50' height with a twinkling start at the top.
Originally my plan was to use a small drone of mine to fly some fishing line up and over the desired branch. After a few test flights it became clear that approach was going to fail. I would most likely end up with the drone stuck in the tree; the wind up there between the branches is unstable and the fishing easily snags. I then tried simply throwing a baseball, with fishing line attached, over the desired branch. But, throwing vertically is much harder than horizontally, none of my throws went quite where I wanted, and after ten or so the ball became permanently snagged on a branch about 40' up. I finally realized I needed to use a bow and arrow. I ran to the store and bought a "Lil Squaw" $20 children's bow and arrow set. I stuck tennis balls on the ends of the included arrows and attached the fishing line. I nailed it on my fourth shot; technically I got it on my first, but that arrow overshot a bit and joined the baseball as a permanent resident of the tree.
After a few hours of running lights, I was done... The video fails to capture the real beauty of the scene.