I was awesome in the past.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still awesome in the present and will be in the future. But I have documented proof of my awesomeness in the past.

This proof was presented to me during our annual ritual of putting up Christmas lights. Over the years, we have developed a fairly routine plot of lights we put up, using predominantly colored lights as my wife said it makes the house look like a gingerbread house.

We have a stable of net lights, easily one of mankind’s top five inventions. These are awesome because, even when you unpack them after a year of storage, you give them a little shake and they unfurl with ease. Sure, you have an attrition rate of a few nets a year, but I would rather have a net light that works for two years and easily unfolds than a strand of lights that last forever but take roughly two days to untangle and then, when you get them in the bushes, looks like you let a drunken chimpanzee put them up.

So my kids and I went into the attic to get our lights out. Our Christmas decorations are easy to find – they are all in red and green plastic totes. Our Halloween decorations are in orange and black totes. Before you praise me for my holiday-themed tote décor, I assure you, that was my wife’s doing. I was fine with shoving things in cardboard boxes and scrawling their contents with magic marker. My wife insists we class things up with regard to attic storage. It’s how she rolls.

As we grabbed the tote that was properly labeled “outdoor lights,” we had to have a minor delay so that my kids could argue over who got to go down the ladder last, and thus was the one to pull the chain to turn the light off. My kids have more electronic gadgets and gizmos than any human needs to own, yet apparently the most exhilarating thing on the planet is turning off the attic light. I have a sneaking suspicion that the excitement comes not from turning off the light, but rather from the other sibling NOT getting to turn off the light. That little detour ended the way it usually does – “Both of you get down. I’M turning off the light.” And just for added measure, when I turn off the light, I make a point of looking down at both of them and saying, “Oh, man that was cool!”

Once we got the bin downstairs, we popped the lid. I took a deep breath, as even though I had it down to a routine, any routine that sits dormant in an attic for a year gets a little rusty. I knew I would figure out what went where eventually, but it can be a little painstaking to do it with little hands grabbing a set of lights and saying, “I know where this one goes!!!”

As I gazed into the bin, I saw it. There, sitting on top of the tote full of lights, was a note. A note of awesome.

It read:

Dear Gibbons of the Future,

Above the towel is for the front of the house. Below the towel is for the front azaleas.


The Gibbons of the Past

During last year’s packing up, I had the good – nay, awesome – sense to remind myself how I had packed things. Sure enough, my first move was to put the net lights down in the bottom of the bin. I then placed a beach towel over them and neatly packaged the lights for the front part of the house. And then wrote myself a little note.

With the easy directions laid out from The Gibbons of the Past, we quickly unloaded lights and had things up in record time. At no time did I have to threaten either child with banishment to a bedroom for failure to follow light decorating protocol.

I am going to try and follow my lead with the Christmas light storage on other aspects of my life. Whenever I see occasional tasks that will need reminding, I will call on The Gibbons of the Past to leave a little reminder for me. In fact, let me get started now:

Dear Gibbons of the Future,

Don’t forget to put that note back in the Christmas lights bin when you put them up.


The Gibbons of the Past.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.