Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Christmas lights were tested and more were purchased. We had a sitter for Kid #3, and kid #2 was ready to help decorate the house for holidays. I ventured into our garage, past my car and the set of four-wheelers, and grabbed the tallest ladder I could find.

For whatever reason, all the aluminum death traps leaned against the wall in front of my Jetta. I took my time and maneuvered between my baby and my son’s four-wheeler—I’m sure he considers that his baby, too—so not to scratch any paint. When the top of the ladder bumped into the garage door, I realized I had to lay the stupid thing horizontally to get outside.

Turning the corner, I carried the ladder up the sidewalk, proud I’d done this myself—really, it’s the least someone with an insane fear of heights can do for her husband. After depositing the tool by the porch, I went through the garage and inside the house to let him know I was ready to support him, but he was nowhere to be found.

Sunlight beamed through the big window in the top story of our foyer as I entered. Through the narrow windows on either side of our front door, I saw him and his mother outside with another ladder.

I joined them on our porch and looked around, excited at the prospect of a beautifully lit house.

“You ready to go up?” my husband asked, holding a string of white and blue Christmas lights.

Is he nuts? When my husband and I discussed decorating, I didn’t think he wanted me to go on the roof with him. I cringe when the kids ask to go on a Ferris-Wheel. I plaster myself to the inside wall of imitation Eiffel Towers at theme parks. My hands sweat just thinking about climbing a tree. He knows I’m afraid of heights; we’ve known each other for over ten years.

“You want me up there with you?” I asked, trying to hide the fear in my tone; kid #2 was watching with big, I-will-act-however-you-act-Mom eyes.

He nodded.

“Okay,” I said, wishing like hell I could call one of his buddies and have them come over to help.

At our old house I never had to assist with decorations. It wasn’t nearly as tall, wasn’t nearly the large project our new home is. Before I had time to talk myself out of it, I was following my dear husband up the ladder, cold aluminum chilling my hands. Each rung climbed was another step closer to death—or at least some severely injured organs or broken bones.

Once I was on the first roof, I didn’t feel so bad . . . until I looked up and understood he had to climb yet another ladder to reach the highest peaks. I put some plastic hooks in my pocket, supported the additional ladder with all my body weight, gripping the damned thing for dear life. If he fell, I’d fall. And if he fell, he’d go all the way down. We’d both die. The kids would be orphans. What would happen to the dogs? Do we have a living will?

I pushed harder and harder, avoiding any eye contact with what he was doing above me, avoiding a glance at the ground, avoiding taking a breath. My fear must have rolled off me in waves and whimpers because my fearless husband kept giving me instructions in case he fell. He hollered for kid #2 to stay away from the portion of the roof we were on. Was he scared too?

“Got it,” he said, relief flooding his voice. “I’m coming down.”

I moved to the side, keeping my shoe propped against the foot of the ladder, and took a deep breath when he was safe on the first roof with me. Hands sweating profusely, my body shook with fear. There was no way I would be able to crawl down to the ground.

Whipping my cell phone out of my back pocket, I called my mother-in-law.


I sighed. “Can you open Clarissa’s window? I can’t go down a ladder right now.”

She laughed and said she’d be right there.

When that window opened, I practically ran to it.

“Don’t run on the roof,” my husband yelled.

Too late, I was already inside . . . on level, carpeted, safe flooring—yet only half the house was finished. Luckily the next part could be done from a ladder propped on the dirt. We managed to string up the lights in a matter of minutes, and I have to admit, they’re beautiful.

But next time he’s going to have to find someone else to help him.


  1. Anonymous11/30/2011

    Oh Krystal, this post was beautifully put and so resonated with me. I think you are incredibly brave to go up there and the house looks stunning now. Who's going to take them down, I wonder:)
    Jane Isaac

  2. That you, Jane. I was not brave! I was scared to death! The house is pretty though. I guess it was all worth it, but I think my heart is getting too old for this! haha

  3. I'm not much for heights. No lights at my house above ladder level. But yours look great!

  4. The house looks so pretty with all the lights. I can't wait to put up our tree on Dec 8th

  5. It looks awesome!!!! I often wonder if maybe hubby and I shouldn't break down and decorate outside. It would be kinda cool to have people drive by to check out our house!

  6. Jane is right. Bravery is confronting your fears and not running from them. Good job.

    I'd poke fun, but I remember how I was when I visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I swore I was going to fall right over the edge! And unlike you, I didn't venture forth. You *ARE* the brave one.

    Christmas lights look great, by the way.

  7. Kelly, I'm always trying to face my fears, and I usually end up with a bad headache afterward!

    Oh, thank you, Emma. Do you plan out the 8th for something special?

    Thank you, Shay! I love coming home when the house is all lit up. I could drive up the street and do it all over again!

    James, Thank you. I'm not sure about the Leaning Tower...I might not be able to handle that one. ;-)

  8. Anonymous11/30/2011

    It's beautiful Krystal! So worth it don't you think? The first year in this house I had the husband go up on the roof to put lights on the second story; we always used to do it at our old house. Well this house has Spanish tile, with apparently some moss. It is slippery and I didn't want him to come crashing down to his death. That was the only year we have had lights on the upper level. Now they just string across the garage like most of our neighborhood. We are so boring.

  9. LOL So glad don't have this headache to worry about:)

  10. Thanks, Debra. It was totally worth it, but I wish my body wouldn't respond with so much fear. And you're not boring.

    Oh, Tania, you should be glad! As much as I love the appearance, the process of stringing it all up is a PITA!

  11. And I just realized that's not the right picture! We lit up the front porch the next day. I'll have to replace this image!

  12. Yes you were brave or nuts - with me I find it hard to tell sometimes. House looks amazing - gorgeous pic!

  13. Aw... Next time you shd call one of your hubby's buddies. Seriously! But the house looks beautiful and your new profile pic too!!!!!!!! Yay you! :)

  14. Not in a million years would you get me up a ladder. I have no guilt telling my kids forget it to ferris wheels etc. But ... wow ... your place looks amayonaising!

  15. Well done and way to face those fears! House looks great, you should be proud. I'm not as brave, my lighting display is ground level.

  16. I'm going with nuts, Louise!

    Jkp, I'm so happy to see you here. Come home soon!

    Thanks, Caren! It was certainly worth the effort!

    I'm learning a lot of people only do ground level lights, Sandra! :-)

  17. You are braver gilr than me anyway, I would never have the guts to do that. The picture does look fab, so it was worth it!


  18. Nice job Krystal! I'm afraid of those darn ladders too. My husband always takes care of the outdoor Xmas stuff and I'm so grateful :)

  19. Wow. Something about the upstairs that always brings me back to childhood memories of being scared to go in the attic. Thanks for sharing:)

  20. Thank you, Michelle! :-)

    My hubby used to do it all by himself, but our house is just too big. He needs help. Sigh.

    Rex, didn't mean to scare you! :-)

  21. I told you so!! :) :) Great post Girl!

  22. This is awesome, and I am proud of you, not so much for being coerced into going up, but for thinking of a sane way back down. I truly admire a woman who can keep her head under fire. Well done!

  23. Anonymous12/01/2011

    Yeah, I'm not much for climbing ladders either, so I'm with you. And BTW, re: Caren's comment - is "amayonaising" a word? 'Cause if it's not, it should be! :)

  24. Barbara Dehaba12/02/2011

    You put me right there. Your tribulation was rewarded by the lovely Christmas statement you and TJ created.

  25. house looks really good.I wouldn't even have gotten that far I can't stand heights either.


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