Friday, November 21, 2014


Last December, I came up with the idea of having a giant lighted star erected behind my house, not only because it would be a Christmas decoration that probably could be seen in three counties, but also because I wanted it to be a tribute to my late husband.

A contractor and his crew arrived with what looked like a pile of lumber in the back of the truck, and within an hour, transformed it into the star of my dreams…over 20 feet tall. They assured me it would withstand gale-force winds without falling over.

The star stood tall and illuminated the night sky, much to my delight. Sometimes I even drove down to the main road, from where it was the most visible, just to stare at it.

Then, one morning, after a particularly windy night, I woke up to find my precious star lying in a heap on the ground. I ran out in my pajamas to assess the damage. The star looked as if it had been attacked by a pack of crazed beavers. Splintered wood and broken bulbs were strewn everywhere. I was devastated.

So the remnants of the star ended up stored in my garage. And that’s where I figured they would remain, because I couldn’t afford to hire someone to come piece them back together again. I had to accept the fact I suddenly owned the Humpty Dumpty of Christmas stars.

But a couple weeks ago, all of that changed, thanks to my friends Leo, Paul and Nancy.

Leo, a retired handyman, offered to repair the star, while Paul and Nancy volunteered to help me erect it again.

I jumped at the offer. Leo set to work patching and reassembling the star, which he spread out in my driveway.  When it was all in one piece again, I, with a bag of bulbs, set to work replacing all of the broken ones.  I also used a handful of twist ties to hold the bulbs in place on the star’s frame, so they would line up in perfect symmetry.

The morning we decided to erect the star was cold and misty. My three friends promptly showed up for the star-raising. I, however, delayed the event because I saw a couple bulbs that weren’t in precise alignment.

“No one is going to be able to tell if one bulb is out of line when they’re looking at it from a mile away!” Leo, growing impatient – and damp – said, rolling his eyes. “You’re too darned fussy!”

“I have to make certain everything is perfect before we put it up,” I said. “Because once the star is erected, it will over 20 feet high, and I won’t be able to reach the bulbs!”

“Knowing you, you’ll probably rent a cherry picker!” Leo said.

Finally, the four of us decided the star was ready to be carried back to its original spot behind the house.  That’s when we realized just how heavy it was.

Nancy and I were on one side, and we barely could lift it off the ground.

“My hip is killing me,” Nancy groaned.

“My back was hurting,” I said, “but now I think it’s gone completely numb!”

As we carried the star from the driveway, we realized it was too big to fit through the narrow passageway the led to the back of the house. As a result, poor Paul had to walk through the Outback – bushes, thorns, poison ivy – with his end of the star, while Nancy and I nearly wiped out the motion-sensor light on the garage with our end. Leo (a.k.a. “Hercules”), however, handled an entire side by himself, without any problem. Finally, we reached our destination.

We set down the star on the ground and stood staring at each other.

“Did anyone mark the exact spot where the star used to be?” Paul, picking an assortment of leaves and twigs off his jacket, asked, directing the question at me. 

“Um, no,” I said. “I only know the general vicinity.”

Thus began a lengthy discussion about the best spot to erect the star for maximum visibility. 

“How about right there?” Leo suggested, pointing.

“No, there’s a big tree in the way,” I answered.

 “Well, let’s cut it down, then!” he said.

“It’s not on my land,” I answered.

Finally, we all agreed on the perfect spot, and with a lot of grunting and shoving, managed to get the huge star standing upright.

“Good!” Leo said, grabbing some stakes and a hammer. “Now, help me anchor this thing to the ground so even if a tornado comes by, it won’t fall over! I don’t ever want to have to go through this again!”

The finished product was a marvel to behold, towering high above us…and sturdy enough to use as a jungle gym.  I couldn’t wait until dark to light it and check it out from the road below.

That night, I drove down to Deerfield Road to admire our efforts.

Several trees were blocking the star, making it look more like only half a star. And even that portion could be seen only when I was heading up the road, not down.  It was obvious we’d erected the star in the wrong spot. I was crushed. I also dreaded having to break the news to Paul and Nancy…and most of all, to Leo.

“You think we can move the star by ourselves?” I asked Paul and Nancy.

“No…we really need four people,” they said. 

I was afraid they’d say that.

Unfortunately, Leo called the next day to ask how the star looked after dark.

“Um…” I hesitated, trying to gather my courage, “it has to be moved about five feet over. It’s not visible from the road.”

I then held the phone away from my ear as I braced myself for his reaction.

“Well, let me know when Paul and Nancy want to move it and we’ll do it,” he said calmly. 

So a few days later, once again in the rain, we moved the star, which wasn’t easy, considering Leo had staked it to the ground so solidly, it could have withstood a major earthquake. I actually was scared to drive down to look at it that night.  I figured if it still couldn’t be seen, I’d just leave it right where it was and give up. But to my relief, the star was perfect – clearly visible from all angles.

I plan to light it the day after Thanksgiving for the Christmas season. So if you are driving up Deerfield Road in Allenstown, go 1.6 miles past the Bear Brook State Park tollbooth and then start looking to your left.  You’ll see the product of all of our hard work.

But if something is blocking it or you have any problem seeing it…I don’t think I want to know about it.

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