On Boys Climbing Trees And Stringing Lights


“Are you guys okay up there?”

“Yeah,” one of my boys answered.

I heard the concerned neighbor from where I sat in the backyard. It was dark and my two boys were about forty feet up in our redwood tree. Headlamps on, Christmas lights being strung, having a blast.

We’d talked of lighting up this tree many times, but weren’t sure how we would do it. As my boys age, they have become adept climbers of this tree. Cousins and friends have joined them. Several parents have stood in the backyard with me and watched, amazed.

“How far up do you think they are?” The question has been asked many times.

“I don’t know. I suppose forty or fifty feet.”

Watching the boys climb, I decided the best way to get Christmas lights strung on the tree was to have the boys carry them in a backpack and wrap the trunk. My eleven year old son reminded me of this one evening.

“Dad, can we string the lights on the tree?”

“Oh, I forgot we were going to do that. It’s almost dark now. We might need to wait until next weekend.”

As I said this, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. The thrill of stringing the lights into that tree was something he was anxious to experience. Why disappoint the boy, I thought.

“The only way to do it now is to put on your headlamp.”

He brightened as he headed off to find his gear. The excitement of stringing the tree with lights doubled with the adventure of working in the dark. He worked tirelessly, untangling lights from a big tub, figuring out which ones worked and which didn’t, packing them into his pack, and hauling them up the tree. His younger brother eventually joined in the fun.

The plan went through several starts and stops. Several strings of lights had connectors which only worked with the same brand. Up and down and into the tub of lights my older son went, over and over. Once, while packing another string of lights into his pack in the house, he said my wife, “Mom, my backpack fell all the way down and I heard it hit the ground.”

“Calvin,” I said, “Don’t tell you mother things like that.”


“That is the type of thing you tell her when you are like forty years old.”

“Oh, then you probably have a lot of thing to tell your mother.”

The tree looked fabulous when it was complete; we could see it from blocks away. One of my neighbors asked how we did it. I told him. He wasn’t surprised; he was a tree-climbing boy once himself. I think we all were – and we lived to tell about it.


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