Twelve months is short enough to feel like last Christmas was just here.

Yet long enough to forget how to hang up all the blasted lights.

The power strips, extension cords and twinkles disappear every January, as does the memory of the downright Christmas miracle performed by myself (while my family looks on sipping hot cocoa) to make ice lights sparkle, porcelain winter villages spring to life and prevent a supposedly “pre-lit” tree that refuses to live up to its name from being heaved out the picture window.

“There,” said my husband, easily snapping together our plastic tannenbaum in three deft moves. “The tree is up,” he said, sitting down for his first break.

“What? That isn’t putting up the tree,” I said, taking in the pathetic evergreen, which couldn’t have been flatter had it been run through a compactor. “You need to fluff out the branches. Then put on all the lights,” I instructed from my perch on the ladder.

“I thought it was a pre-lit tree,” he said.

“Yes, but all the lights burnt out long ago. Now you have to wrap good lights around the burnt-out ones,” I said. “Someone hand me another extension cord.”

I was in the midst of attempting to set up my Christmas village on top of the television cabinet, while my children bobbed and weaved their heads in an effort to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” around my body.

I had a power strip with a three-prong plug and a white extension cord that only takes two-prong plugs. I also had an orange extension cord that takes three-prong plugs but was too short to reach the three-prong power strip. And I had a three-to-two plug adapter in a drawer somewhere I bought last year. I know I bought it last year because I have bought a three-to-two plug adapter every year for the past 10-plus years.

“I’m going to need another electric cord,” I said to my husband who was still half-heartedly fluffing branches. “How does this go again?”

Each building in the Christmas village needs to be plugged into an outlet. The outlet I really want to plug each into, however, (the very convenient outlet at the end of the string of twinkle lights) will not accept any plugs from my Christmas village despite the fact all parties involved are two prongs and it is a two-prong outlet.

This is a fact I forget every blessed year, only recalling the evil two-prong refusal when I’m on the top of the ladder trying once again to get my Tick-Tock Clock Shop to glow.

“This isn’t going to work. I need to find that adapter.”

By the time I’m done connecting my clock shop, church and cafe to the grid, my overstuffed outlet looks like it was engineered by the grumbling father from “A Christmas Story.” The only thing missing is a sexy leg lamp, which probably wouldn’t fit into my two-prong white extension cord, either.

An hour later, I stood back to admire the network of tiny glowing windows. It was lovely.

I’ve always been a sucker for Christmas villages. The kid in me likes to imagine what it would be like to shrink down and walk among the streets of fake sparkle snow, visit the church with the big white steeple and take a ride in the sleigh with the little porcelain man with the chip off the side of his head. (I like to think it was a riding accident, not careless packing that caused his severe head injury.)

“I forget about this ornament,” said my girl, pulling a ballerina from a box and hanging it on the tree. “Oh, and this ornament, too!”

I guess a short memory isn’t always bad. It lets you discover things all over again.

Remind me I said that this time next year.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at or visit The Moms blog at

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