“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” — Catherine Pulsifer. 

“We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” — John F. Kennedy. 

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” — William Arthur Ward.

It's almost Thanksgiving time; however, we should be expressing “thanksgiving time” every day of our lives. Let’s focus more on blessing others rather than finding ways to satisfy self. It’s the time of the year that we celebrate fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas — all bundled together. Our decorations during these days tend to offer excitement and celebration for each of these holidays.

Fall decorations and Christmas lights break dormancy and can be found wherever we look. Such decorations help spread the holiday spirit within each of us. Little ones adore them, and older ones enjoy them! Such expressions of decoration and appreciation bring joy and gladness into our hearts. We make special trips across town and into the country simply to observe all these lighted decorations.

However, with these lights come much responsibility to insure the safety of the home, workplace and community throughout this season. Safety tips should be considered with the selection, placement, lighting and storage or disposal of your chosen trees.

In tree selection, picking the right tree is critical.  We all want a tree that is the right size and properly shaped. Also, choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. A trip to the tree farm aids in picking the tree of your choice which will be most fresh and healthy. If choosing from pre-cut trees, pay attention to the condition of the tree, the distance it has traveled (windage damage and drying), and the length of time that it has been cut. If you have selected an artificial tree, be sure that it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant. 

Before placing the real tree in an appropriate, sturdy stand, saw about 1-inch from the base of the trunk to provide a fresher bottom surface for water absorption. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, heat vents, heaters, candles or lights. Also, be sure the tree is not blocking an exit. Add sufficient water to the tree stand, check water level frequently, and add water daily throughout the duration of its use. 

The decorating of the tree is the next step in this process. Use safe ornaments and lights with a label indicating approval from an independent testing laboratory. Indoor lights cannot safely be used in the outdoors. Always read the packaging to determine where your lights can be used (inside or outside). 

Always replace any string of lights that has worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Never connect more than three strands of mini-string sets or maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs to an individual power outlet. Use approved power strips with circuit breakers in making your connections to the power supply at the nearest electrical socket.  In addition, read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands that can be safely connected. 

Use duct tape or velcro to secure loose wires that can get in the way of people and pets moving around in a room or on a porch. Always bundle loose wires with zip ties or fasteners in a hideaway to help keep the room presentable and free of clutter. Lights use a lot of power so never overload power sockets or outlets. Be sure that the lights have proper ventilation by keeping the lights free of objects that could over-heat and start a fire.

Do not use burning candles to decorate the tree. Always turn off the Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed. Never leave burning lights home alone. If you have pets, be sure to keep them away from the decorated tree at all times. Large dogs can knock over the tree and cats (with all their curiosity) will climb the tree and cause it to tip over. Both dogs and cats will chew on the electrical cords causing problems for themselves and the home.

Once the tree has served its purpose and Christmas has passed, take the tree down before it begins to excessively drop needles. Trees that have dried out and expired become a fire hazard and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Be sure to check with your local community to find a recycling program or disposable process for your tree. Properly label, wrap tangle-free and store all your electrical lights (indoors and outdoors) as you take them down after the holidays.

The cardboard box that your artificial tree came in will begin to deteriorate and encourage insect infestation over time. Select an appropriately sized bag(s) or storage box(es) for off-season storage. The benefit of using an artificial tree is that it is in sections with lights permanently attached. However, special ornaments benefit from being stored in their original packaging and placed into a larger storage box. If the original box is not available, then store smaller ornaments in an empty egg carton.

The most important things for people with natural trees are to keep them properly watered, decorated with proper and safe lighting, and knowing when to take it down after the holidays before it becomes too dry. Also, never use indoor extension cords for outside lighting, unplug light strings before changing bulbs, do not overload extension cords, replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs, and always read product safety labels before product use.

May the results of your holiday efforts be photo ops and memory-makers for seasons to come. Be aware and think safety and responsibility! Select awesome seasonal plants for the upcoming holidays. To help reduce the risk of COVID-19, wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Enjoy all your Thanksgiving activities followed by viewing the Christmas lights in your area and elsewhere. May God bless each of you during this time of the year as you bless others on your daily journey!

“A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue.” — Proverbs 11:12. 

“Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.” — Psalm 97:12. 

“Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” — Hebrews 11:16.

Seagle is a Sustainability Verifier, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International) LLC, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Associate Editor of The Golf Course, International Journal of Golf Science, and Short Term Missionary, Heritage Church, Moultrie. Direct inquiries to csi_seagle@yahoo.com

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