It's 1996, I'm experiencing my first island Christmas away from my middle west upbringing and I'm in deep despair. How on earth would it feel like the holidays with no snow or no obvious change of seasons? How would I trade that soft sand to the  crisp white crunch beneath my snow boots? Then, it happened,  I saw it, my first decorated palm tree, swaying softly in the warm island breeze, festivally wrapped and draped with twinkling white lights. Breathtaking! The next day as I walked to the mailbox in bare feet, I felt the despair lift and thought that maybe, just maybe, I could spend a winter or two by the sea. 

That was over twenty years ago, and I'm still decorating for the holidays on the island. That doesn't mean I don't miss the nostalgia of my hometown Christmases, I do. They have my heart. Yet I have learned to experience the love of a warm, foggy, seaside holiday. 

Today when I decided the ''intentional holiday spirit fest" would be hanging outdoor lights, you can imagine my dismay when searching both high and low, (meaning boxes stacked high and low) I could not find my box of Christmas lights. A box filled with carefully wrapped white lights. 50 per strand. This is my system taught to me years ago while working at Hawkins Greenhouse, decorating beautiful homes and businesses, I learned, in a hurry, how to decorate. 

How to ''effortlessly" decorate with christmas lights. 

1. Start with strands of 50 mini lights indoor/outdoor, set connects end to end. Both these details are important. 

2. Now, unwrap your strand of 50 and grab the female head (what you plug into) and hold in the palm of your hand , winding half the strand around the hand. Stop. Remove what you've wrapped from your palm, turn it sideways and continue to wrap the remainder of the strand around the middle of that strand. This will form a nice ball. Be certain to start with the female end as then you can easily plug in the male end to begin your unwinding. 

3. When you are ready to decorate, plug in each individual strand as you are working with it. This is important as even strands of 50 can let you down. Note: Avoid plugging more than 6 strands into one plug..... or the world as you know it could come undone in a burst of flames, also known as a blow out of all the strands you have just connected together so far. Remember, work with one strand of 50 at a time. 

4. If you have wrapped the lights as guided above, you will have a nice tidy little ball  to plug in, guide, and wind as you are decorating. Super simple and it keeps things from getting tangled and caught up in limbs, branches and everything you own. 

Which was pretty much what happened to me today. I found a tub of misfits; Lost lights I thought I had tossed a few years ago, but apparently the holiday spirit in me chose to keep. My challenge now was to untangle these old glass bulbs, replace, sort, untangle, replace, sort, untangle. I did this without stepping on a single bulb, which if you've ever done, the bulb pops and explodes into a fury of one thousand shards of tiny tiny skin poking pieces.

In the end, I was left with miscellaneous sizes and colors that go against the white on white lighting theme that I have known and relied on for years. Yet now, I have a crazy palm tree covered with a variety of old glass bulbs and multi colored lights, and I am in love with each and every light.  I even think one of the old glass bulbs keeps winking at me. It flashes on, then off, then on again in a very random pattern. 

Now I sit near my back porch, enjoying the glow from the Christmas lights and the soft sound of the waves. I have an entire tale to tell about another type of bulb, Daffodils. But that can wait. Besides, I swear someone is winking at me.