Holiday Pleasantries

tree1We spent today at my parents’ home, putting up some outside lights for them.  Since my Dad’s stroke, and as each year passes, it becomes a bit more difficult for them to do themselves.  And we’re always happy to oblige.  In fact, like the shopping trip with my Mom, I truly look forward to it.

My parents used to decorate their house in a BIG way!  If I’d thought of it, I would have obtained some photos of years gone by and shown you how they used to light the 40-foot cedar in their front yard every year!  It used to take so many lights that my Dad had to have separate fuse boxes wired in to accept the extra load.  But oh, it was magnificent!  People used to drive from neighboring towns to see it — a fact that pleased my Dad as I believe he thought of the gruelling task as a gift to the neighbors and community.  I will find some photos of it and post them before Christmas.  (And secretly, I vow to decorate the tree again one of these years!)

They used to have a fence that ran the length of their driveway, probably close to 80-100 feet long.  Each section of fence had a gently arched top, and they used to outline the top of the entire fence with lights.  That twinkling, scalloped line of lights was also a car-stopper.

Along with that, they lit several other trees around the property — The “Pope Tree”, a silvery-blue skyrocket juniper that was purchased from city surplus after Pope John Paul II’s visit to Halifax many years ago; The “Ashley Tree”, another cedar my parents planted the day our neighbors had their only child, a daughter, Ashley Dale, along with several smaller globe cedars, etc.  I’m sure their power bill was outrageously high every January!  But I know they did a lot of it for my daughters when they were young as it used to look like a wintry fairyland when it was finished.  Great memories, those.

They’ve scaled their decorations down considerably since those days.  The little tree in the photo above they dubbed The Nolan Tree, as it was a little seedling that started growing like gangbusters the year my grandson, Nolan, was born.  Today, I had to stand on tiptoe to put the first light on the top of the tree.  It’s tucked into a group of paper white birches on the side of their driveway and they can see it from almost every room in the house.  Then we put some white icicle lights around the railing of their back door, lights on the railing of their front deck and such, and Mom will put a set of three candles in every window, as she has every year for as long as I can remember.

railMother provided a lovely ham dinner with apple pudding and homemade caramel sauce for dessert.  My Dad supplied hilarious recollections of Christmas “decorating disasters” from years gone by.  So we considered ourselves richly “compensated” for our endeavors. :)

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10 thoughts on “Holiday Pleasantries

  1. I did the same thing today. I don’t do much in the way of decorating my own house so I like to go and help my Mom decorate hers. I got out the ladder, tested the lights and strung them all around the tree. It wasn’t too cold and with some new snow to pretty it up, we had a good time.

  2. Oh, what holiday pleasantries, indeed! Thank you for sharing them with us!

    I love your wintry header! We still don’t have any snow here, but I’m hoping we’ll get some soon, so I can participate in your First Snowfall Project!

  3. Sounds like a fun time was had by all! The dinner sounds really good after a day of decorating. I’ve been tempted to decorate our house for Christmas on the outside with lights and all but I’m a bit intimidated by that electric bill!

  4. Sounds like a great day!
    I’m sure they appreciate your help and think of you when they see the lights.
    Sounds like your Dad’s light display was worth a drive!

  5. Very pretty!! Wouldn’t they be surprised if you decorated that huge 40′ tree? That would be quite the endeavor!

    What a wonderful time you had together and what wonderful memories you have. :-) Thanks for sharing!

  6. What sweet memories, Nancy! I love the naming of trees, as you know. They grow too fast as well, as you noted how high the branches are today. Couldn’t be that we’re all getting older, but that trees are growing much too fast. Thanks for the lovely holiday word pictures – I can see these decorations in my mind. Happy holidays to you and yours!

  7. I hope you do find some old pictures and post them Nancy. It sounds like it was beautiful. I like to decorate big like that indoors rather than out. I guess because I don’t like the cold. So great you can help them keep some tradition going. I would put up lights for a dinner like that too!

  8. I really enjoyed this post! Like your parents, my grandparents also had the tradition of planting trees (particularly magnolias and oaks) to commemorate a special event such as the birth of a child or grandchild. Today I love walking around our family’s homeplace in the country admiring these wonderful mature trees and having happy childhood flashbacks to the conversations I had with my beloved grandparents about “whose tree” this or that one was, and how proud I was….and still am… of “my magnolia” tree that they planted the year I was born.

    In my small garden in town, I carry on this tradition as well and it makes me enjoy my yard even more knowing it is “populated” with trees and shrubs that “belong” to people very special in my life.

    Thanks for sharing this post and your lovely pictures. I love your blog and have it on my sidebar as a favorite site. Have a happy holiday season and all the best in 2009! (Also thanks for your comment on my blog and for sending a thank you card to a soldier overseas.)

    Jon at Mississippi Garden

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