Saturday, November 27, 2010

CPR for Failing Artificial Christmas Tree

One particular artificial tree usually finds a home in my front room this time of year.  I love this tree because it has branches that continue all the way down to the floor, and since we don't place gifts under said tree, I think the down-swept branches look nicer than a big exposed piece of dark green PVC pipe.  The above image is from 2009, happier times for this tree and I.  When I unpacked this pre-lit bad boy this year, I was bummed to see that eight of the ten light strands were not working.  OYE.

Last year one strand didn't work, and I had really good luck with the Light Keeper Pro.  I clicked once or twice and the entire tree was illuminated.  I had anticipated the lights dying again later in the season, but I  am happy to report they lasted throughout the holidays.  Completely expecting I would have the same success this year, I pulled out my trusty light remedy gun and started clicking away, testing lights, attempting  to reset the interrupted circuits.  Fairly quickly, all of the lights were twinkling back at me with the exception of a singular pesky strand.

I started working on the section that was not cooperating......what a nightmare.  I clicked and clicked and clicked some more, the entire house was annoyed with the constant beeping.  Frustrated, I still sucked it up and started pulling out burnt bulbs, replacing bulbs, clicking, beeping, blah blah blah.  I will never have those four hours of my life back, and I miss them terribly.  I was left with the an entire lower strand......DOA.  Most people probably wouldn't have noticed the twenty dim lights, but I would know they were there.  Not acceptable.  If that weren't tragic enough, I had also killed my fingernails, my thumbs, poked my hands everywhere, and all for nothing.  If I had to make a list of things I hate in this world, unhooking bulbs from pre-lit trees would definitely make my Top 20.  White flag.  Towel officially thrown in.

For a minute I got cocky and decided to go out and shop for a replacement tree.  I looked in at least ten stores and found nothing that met my expectations. Where were all of the trees with low-falling branches?  And besides, we are in a recession right?  I know they say it's over, whoever "they" are but, $350.00 for a new plastic evergreen?  In the words of Dana Carvey as George Bush on Saturday Night Live, "NA-GA-DA!"  At this point my worst nightmare became a reality.....I would have to mix in a strand of lights. GASP!  Unheard of!  Unthinkable.  All of the neighbors would point at me, kids would get off the school bus and whisper about 'the lady with the ghetto tree' or worse!

I resolved to temporarily lose my perfectionistic attitude and spend the weekend decorating trees.  I wish I had a Polaroid of my face as I plugged in the green nemesis to see that two-thirds of the lights had gone dark again.  Maddening!  I didn't panic, I pulled out the red savior gun and began clicking.  Nothing.  I spent an hour going back and forth from YouTube tutorials on fixing pre-lit trees, all the while wondering if there were any stores that had amazing deals on trees.  Still no holiday glow.  The dream had died.

Epiphany!  I wouldn't have to give up my low lying branches, I would just remove all of the existing light strands and restring with new LED's.  Simple.  It wasn't the worst idea I've ever had, but the old lights were twisted in so tightly, it took me a good four hours for the entire removal.  After a while, I was able to notice a pattern, and the unwrapping of lights did seem to go more quickly.  It was tedious, but oddly rewarding because at least the lights would totally match.  I'm really terrified to open my twelve-foot tree and see what horrors that may bring, but for the moment, one crisis averted.  I spent $12.00 on new lights, much less expensive than a new fake.  Bah Humbug!


Kat @ City Southern said...

Glad it all worked out in the end! I'm terrified every year that we'll find dead lights on our pre-lit artificial tree. I've wanted to try the light-keeper-pro. It just seemed too good to be true!!

Cute little blog - good luck with it =)

Simone @ Doberman's by the Sea said...

Hi, thanks for visiting me. I appreciate it. I wish I had read your post 2 days ago before haveing to buy a new tree due to broken lights and branches. Good job. Happy 1. Advent.

Attempting Aloha said...

Ugh! That's just depressing. I'm staring at my tree with 1/2 the lights working thinking the exact same thing, "I should just suck it up and buy a new one. Wait, no. I should just suck it up and restring everything. No, no...easier to buy a new one." Thriftiness wins. I'm off to buy new lights. Boo.

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka,


srp said...

Oh how I felt your pain. I have one of these that was pre-strung with lights that did multiple different configurations. Alas, after several years of dragging it up and down to and from the attic, it died. Last year I sat and for more than four hours pulled off the lights. Ours were strung so well that I never did find a pattern so, frustrated I took to the wire cutters and clipped long strands off at a time. I have replaced them with lights that look like tiny miniature round globes and they are beautiful.

redhdgirl417 said...

I was never so excited to see this post in all my 40 years...I had TWO strings of lights out on my pre-lit that were so well strung by the manufacturer I could NOT get any of them off without destroying the tree. The LightKeeper Pro saved the tree's existence...and my sanity. :)

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