Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?
My mom loved lights. If there was a place to string it, she would. If there wasn’t, she would make one! We always had Christmas lights that surrounded the entire house hanging from the gutters. In the 1970’s, the only light to hang outside was the those big bulbs. I loved how they stood out and looked forward to coming home late at night just to see those lights! Mom also made this giant felt Santa Claus that hung on the front door usually with a sleigh bell on the door knob.
During my youth, most everybody decorated their house with lights and mangers were a common scene. Today, anything signaling the approach of Christmas seems foreign. There are a few houses on our block that have lights on the house, one with their shrubs covered in lights. Kara and I always make sure we have a giant wreath on our front door with lights that cover at least the front part of the house. Luckily for us, someone had left nails by the gutters to hang our lights.
Remember those big lights from my childhood? Take those and add LED bulbs and you have super amazing lights! Brings back the memories of youth and costs less to operate. No more watching the electric meter spin around!!
One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase. Here’s a little video that someone put together featuring the theme song and how they decorated their house for the season!
Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?
My mom always sent Christmas cards. She would normally sit in her chair while watching TV or listening to Christmas music on the radio writing them out. She was from a big family and if I remember correctly, they also sent out cards. We usually had between 20-40 cards hanging on the fridge, doorways, anything that could be used as a ledge. I loved the glitter, the look and feel of Christmas cards. There’s something completely different about a Christmas card!
Kara and I tried to do cards but for some reason, we’ve never got in the habit. I would like to say we’re too busy but my mom would probably smack me in the back of the head for that comment with her own reply: “Make the time!” The Christmas cards we do receive are placed around a door frame usually from the kitchen to dining or living room. It’s a neat little tradition that we’ve continued. We’ve place them at our kid’s height as they’ve grown so they could always seen them.
I love ornaments. Without the ornaments, a Christmas tree is…just a tree! Growing up, our family had a hodge podge of ornaments-some glass, some paper made by my sisters or my own hand from school, plaster, etc. It didn’t really matter-it was beautiful and it was magical.
One ornament stood out among them all. An antique Victorian ballerina. I don’t know what it was about the ornament that so entranced me but I looked forward to seeing her on that Christmas tree every year. My mom remembers her from when she was a little girl. When Mom married, Grandma passed it down to her.
Considering how much this ornament meant to Mom, I was surprised beyond words when for my first Christmas with my wife, I opened a box to find all the ornaments that I had grown up with as a child – including that ballerina. Tears running down my face, I carefully touched each ornament. It was possibly the best Christmas present that I’ve ever received.
We proudly hung these ornaments on our tree for the next several years until we moved back to Montana following my medical discharge from the Air Force due to disability. We moved into student housing so Kara could go to school. While there, someone went through the shared storage room and stole all our Christmas decorations including the priceless ornaments. Not only did the ballerina disappear but ornaments that my Grandmother crocheted. Ornaments for my kid’s first Christmases, their favorite Disney characters, etc. Invaluable, priceless heirlooms gone in the blink of an eye.
Our family is still trying to find ornaments for our tree after almost 5 years. Maybe I’m just looking for that magical ornament, the one that stands above the rest.