Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Our Outdoor Tree

This is a continuing post for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories which is hosted by GeneaBloggers as a means to encourage family historians to write about their holiday traditions. Today’s prompt is Outdoor Decorations.

I'd say that our old neighborhood had a nice distribution of holiday decorations.  Some eaves were lined with colorful lights, an occasional lighted star, or windows frosted with canned snow.  A good portion of our neighbors got into the spirit of outdoor Christmas décor, but it would actually be our house that would become a beacon in our neighborhood.

I don't know if the trees were originally on the property or whether they were planted when the house was built in 1947, but when Mom and Dad purchased our California home in the early 1960's, the driveway wrapped around two very tall trees: one pine and one eucalyptus.  The house was positioned on top of a small hill and Dad thought it would be great to string Christmas lights on the pine tree to give a festive touch to our house and our neighborhood.

My Kids Playing with the Old Outdoor Lights

Dad commandeered help from my brothers since they were light and agile and could easily climb up the tall metal ladder that was braced against the tree. The strands had the large orange, red, green and blue painted glass type bulbs; the kind that got very hot within a couple of minutes.  I’m not sure how many strands were used but it was quite a sight once lite and could be seen a couple of neighborhoods away.

Dad installed the lights so that they could be controlled by a switch in the garage.  After New Year's he would disconnect the cord but leave the string of lights up in the branches of the tree.  Each year following, my brothers were sent up to secure the strings and replace any burnt out blubs and any that had lost their colorful paint. 

This ritual went on for several years until eventually the follow-up bulb replacement activity ceased and Dad decided to switch the tree lights on during other times...middle of summer, Super Bowl evening, or whenever the festive mood struck him.  As a teenager this became kind of awkward…but, on the brightside (pun intended) we could always find our way home.

©2011 – Frank’s Daughter All Rights Reserved


  1. I always wonder how people get lights into the trees. It seems like such an arduous task. No wonder your dad left them in place.

  2. Years later he decided to leave some strands of lights up inside the house - but that's a different story.