(This is day 5 of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Outdoor Decorations…In Memory of my Dad)
When I was growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, almost everyone in our neighborhood put up Christmas lights. Each house had one strand of big colored light bulbs and that was that. We had two decorations. A Snowman and a Santa Calus that looked like they were made out of pasta and then were painted.
Towards my late teens the mini bulbs came out–and they blinked! Oh, how we begged my Dad to buy some and put them on the house. But, he wouldn’t budge. He didn’t have time for such nonsense.
Then all white lights came into vogue. I wasn’t thrilled with them, but my Mom and sister were. So, we put up white lights…lots of them…on the house, on the garage, on the bushes. It was so bright that they glowed inside the house. Many of our neighbors couldn’t wait for us to go to bed at night and turn off the darn lights. I’m fairly sure that pilots used us as a marker to find the Oakland Airport. That year we were given the nickname “Little Reno” because you couldn’t miss all the brightness.
My Dad would fuss and holler about doing all this “damn work for nothing”. But then something happened. He got some grandkids. Suddenly, decorating the outside of the house was not a chore, but a feast to behold.
He bought lights that blinked and played music. He added some wooden figurines to the fence. Then a lighted Santa and sleigh were hung from the front porch eaves. Candy canes magically appeared up the walk way. A plastic choir lit up the right side of the lawn. A lighted snowman tipping his had perched upon a box. Little wooden reindeer danced around the box. Each year more and more decorations littered the lawn to “please the grandkids”. The last thing added was an inflatable merry go round.
Because of health problems, my Dad can’t put out everything he’d like to. Now the grandkids come and they decorate for Grandpa. Because, in reality, Grandpa doesn’t do it just for the grandkids. He does it so he can share it with the grandkids.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com