In any case, taking ornaments off the tree is much easier than putting them on.
Once the tree was stripped of ornaments, I started removing lights. I always leave the lights on while I'm doing this, because it makes them easier to keep track of and to differentiate the different strings. First, I pulled off the short strand of bubbler lights so that Gretchen could put them away. Then I wound off the first string of sequencers. I started on another string, but they turned out to be the wrong strand to pull at the moment, so I switched to the next strand, wound it up, then went back and finished the first strand.
I unplugged the angel at the top of the tree, then went to remove the extension cord that runs up the trunk. I detached it at the top, reached into the middle to grab it and pull it down and through --
And then I felt a buzzing in my fingertips and grabbed my hand back. Ack!
I grabbed the end of the extension cord that had been plugged into the power strip and yanked it loose. Then I reached back into the tree and pulled out the socket that I'd been reaching for earlier.
It had split in half, leaving the exposed terminals, probably when I'd unplugged the middle strand of lights. As I pulled the rest of the cord out, I found another cracked and broken socket with partially exposed terminals.
The broken cord has now been consigned to the recycling bin.
That could have been much worse.