"PETER SHANDY, YOU'RE IMPOSSIBLE!", sputtered his best friend's wife. "How do you expect me to run the Illumination if everybody doesn't cooperate?"
"I'm sure you'll do a masterful job as always, Jemima. Isn't that Hannah Cadwall across the way ringing your doorbell?"
With a finesse born of much practice, Professor Shandy backed Mrs. Ames off his front step and shut the door. This was the seventy-third time in eighteen years she'd nagged him about decorating his house. He'd kept count. Shandy had a passion for counting. He would have counted the spots on an attacking leopard, and he was beginning to think a leopard might be a welcome change.
Every yuletide season since he'd come to teach at Balaclava Agricultural College, he'd been besieged by Jemima and her cohorts. Their plaint was ever the same:
"We have a tradition to maintain."
(.....................................................................................) ....something snapped. (...)
On the morning of December 22 two men drove up to the brick house in a large truck. The professor met them at the door.
"Did you bring everything, gentlemen?"
"The whole works. Boy, you folks up here sure take Christmas to heart!"
"We have a tradition to maintain", said Shandy.
"You may as well start on the spruce trees."
All morning the workmen toiled. Expressions of amazed delight appeared on the faces of neighbors and students. As the day wore on and the men kept at it, the amazement remained but the delight faded.
It was dark before the men got through. Peter Shandy walked them out to the truck. He was wearing his overcoat, hat, and galoshes, and carrying a valise.
"Everything in good order, gentlemen? Lights timed to flash on and off at six-second intervals?" Amplifiers turned up to full volume? Steel-cased switch boxes provided with sturdy locks? Very well, then, lets's flip the power and be off. I'm going to impose on you for a lift to Boston, if I may. I have an urgent appointment there."
Every year I read this very funny Christmas-detective novel (it appeared in 1978 - if I'd count the way Professor Shandy does that would be....?...times...)
The photo above I took yesterday evening - in Berlin they start their Illumination tradition too!
(I have typed the whole text by hand - hope there are no typos)