If you like Christmas lights then you have Thomas Edison to thank. Not only did he invent the lightbulb, he saw illuminated Christmas Trees as a way to market his new invention and if you had been alive in the 1880’s, your newspaper may have had a headline like “Edward H. Johnson: First Person With Electric Christmas Tree Lights”, or like this article from the NY Times – A Brilliant Christmas Tree. How an Electrician Amused His Children. Edward Johnson was the President of Edison Company for Electric Lights and this is how I imagine it happening.
After Eddie (as I have come to know him) selects the perfect Christmas Tree from the guy down the street who sets up shop on the same grassy lot year after year and leaves as fast as he comes, he heads home with his tree awkwardly tied to top of his Lexus with twine someone found in the back room of the Jiffy Lube next door. When he gets it home, he interrupts his wife who is making Chex Mix to get a hand carrying the tree in. Which causes an immense amount of frustration because he lacks the vocabulary to clearly communicate to his wife on where to position the tree in 3 dimensional space for it to fit through the door and up the stairs. The tree eventually made it to the living room and everyone took an Egg Nog break.
After the break, Eddie wraps the brand new string of lights around the tree and realizes he will need an extension cord so the tree can be in front of the window and wouldn’t you know it, Mrs. Johnson is already using the only extension cord to power the giant inflatable Santa snow globe from the Home Shopping Network that’s in the front yard. So another trip to the store is in Eddie’s future.
When he returned, he poured himself another Egg Nog to assist with the rest of the lighting ceremonies. Finally, plugged the cord into the wall and nothing. Luckily his kit came with an extra bulb so he goes through the bulbs one by one and get the lights working! Now, with the tree all aglow, he can snap a photo with his phone and send out the press release. For years after, only the wealthiest people would be able to afford Christmas “String” Lighting.
You can now get highly efficient LED lighting for less than $20 per strand making it even easier to decorate trees, houses, and entire streets with Christmas decorations and this Saturday we’re going to ride our bikes to find them. The plan is to meet at the west entrance of Salem Creek Greenway in the back parking lot of Marketplace Mall at 5:45pm this Saturday, the 19th and ride out at 6:00pm for a casual night ride. The Washington Park Neighborhood Association uses their light displays to attract people and encourage them to donate canned food to Sunnyside Ministries so we thought we would join in and ask all the people who ride with us to bring at least two canned food items to add to the 140 cans they’ve collected already. As always, please make sure you have a working headlight and taillight, maybe even some festive string lights. Helmets are suggested and beer will be sough after the ride.