I have a philosophy about outdoor Christmas decorations. If they can't be completed during halftime, then you are over-decorating. That includes the time it takes to inflate those tacky blow-up Santas and Frostys.
So during halftime of last Sunday's Texans game, I finally got up out of my chair and put up the all the outside decorations. I think they ended up looking pretty good. Don't you?
Hah! That's not our house in the picture. There's no real reason to take a picture of my decorations. There's a plastic wreath on the door, and I put up one of those wire-frame snowmen with the lights. I used to have some spiral trees to go with him, but they went away. Anyway, the snowman is sort of leaning against the light post with some of his lights not working. But hey, it's the spirit of thing, isn't it?
Each year they hold a Christmas Boat Parade that goes from Clear Lake near the Johnson Space Center out to Galveston Bay. The parade has in excess of 100 boats, each boat lovingly decorated for the evening event. Every kind of boat participates, from small outboards to large sedan cruisers.
For the first time in the almost 34 years we have lived here, we went to the parade. We arrived early and watched some folks putting finishing touches on their boats. It was a treat to see all the people and their creative ideas.
Our only problem was we set up on one side of the lake, and the parade went along the opposite shore. Luckily we both had binoculars, so we could see all the boats, albeit from a bit farther away than we wanted. Next year we'll try to get it right. Since we were too far away for photos, I grabbed one off of the Internet to give you an idea of how some of the boats are decorated.
There is not a Christmas that goes by that I do not think of the Christmas Eves of my childhood. We would gather around the baby grand piano in the living room, and Mom would sit down to play the carols while we all sang. We would sing every one of them, ending with Away in the Manger and Silent Night. And then my younger sister and I were off to bed ("Up the wooden hill," Mom would say) to wait for Santa to come.
The next morning we would wake up and come downstairs to a room that was totally transformed. The piano was gone, moved to the bay window in the dining room. Over in one corner was the Christmas tree all decorated and beautiful. I would go with Dad when he went to buy it, and the tree would lean against the wall on the front porch waiting for Santa to put it up and decorate it. The Lionels would also magically appear with two tracks and two trains and switches and bridges and cars and Plasticville buildings. Most of the time there would be something new on the train platform. The stockings we hung were bulging, waiting to be opened at breakfast. And presents! Presents were everywhere. Piled under the tree; lined up in front of the trains; and special piles in corners or next to chairs.
When breakfast was over, we moved to the living room and the madness of my mother and her Christmas gift giving would begin. Mom had packages going every which way. She just sat in her chair and slid them across the carpet to people. Bows and paper flew, and there were thank-yous and laughter, and squeals of delight. Then it was over. By evening we were sitting down to a turkey dinner. It was Christmas at my house and it was wonderful.
Like most folks, Linda and I ended up with our own Christmas. We did open our stockings at breakfast, and we always had lots of presents under the tree. But we opened them one at a time, with April reading the tags, passing out the gifts, and making sure there was order to the whole thing. There were some years when times were tight, and anything in the house might get wrapped. But it would have a fun tag on it, and we would all get a good laugh watching Dad open a box of Cheerios or April getting a pair of socks, one sock at a time. What we were really giving each other was love, and we had that in abundance. We were always lucky people.
We hope you have some special Christmastime memory that revisits you every year. A memory that puts a little warmth in your heart and brings a smile to your lips.