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Magical moments

Christmas tree lights may change, spending time with family should not

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, and the closer the big day gets, the more I find myself fondly recalling family rituals.

I couldn’t wait to help my parents decorate the tree. We always put up a live tree and the fresh smell of pine would permeate the whole house.

The one thing I most remember about decorating the tree was adding the big, round lights—you know, the old-fashioned kind that came in a rainbow of vibrant colors. My brothers and I untangled the wires and strategically strung the lights so every branch was covered and tipped with a bulb, just as Mom and Dad taught us.

After we hooked the last of 200-or-so ornaments and icicles dripped from the tree, we’d turn the house lights off and all gather as we plugged in for that magical moment. It never disappointed.

Those lights from my childhood Christmas tree have now been replaced with new bulbs that aren’t actually light bulbs at all. They are LED lights, a sophisticated piece of electronics called a light-emitting diode. These new lights can be traced back to the early days of electronics. LED holiday lights were expensive many years ago, but today engineers have been able to harness the power of the diode and they are now plentiful and quite affordable.

These LED lights are important for a number of reasons. First, they help you to save money because they barely use electricity. Second, the lights do not get as hot as the old-fashioned bulbs. One of my friends who is a firefighter says that he is always concerned this time of the year because he responds to emergencies caused by trees catching on fire.

The bulb element in the LEDs last much longer than those miniature, low-voltage “fairy” lights. And, if you’ll spend a little more for a better quality parallel-wired set, instead of the series-wired ones, you’ll also avoid the tedious task of tracking down that single, bad bulb.

These high-tech wonders come in a huge array of dazzling sizes, shapes, and colors, including my favorite, those old-fashioned, colorful bulbs.

As things continue to change, like the lights on a Christmas tree, remember that some traditions should stay the same. This includes spending time with family and friends. Let me wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas.

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