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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lighting up the neighborhood


Chuck and Sharon McFadden of Loganville spent a month putting together a Christmas display, just as they have for the last 30 years.
The home's outside is impressive, with 16 balloons, figures, buildings. And enough lights to make the electric meter spin like a tire on a race car.  Most of the lights are in the backyard, since the display can be seen by drivers along Interstate 83.

Sharon admits the backyard is 'gaudy', but the front yard is beautiful, tasteful. It's about the only house in the upscale, new-home neighborhood with any lights at all. Thousands of drivers see the backyard, only a handful see the front.

Their grandchildren are soaking up the holiday spirit, Sharon baking and cooking, Chuck already planning for more railroad displays.

It was satisfying to see the McFaddens smiling as I walked through their door. They seem to thrive on the holidays.  Good for them.

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     My house in York has almost no decorations on it because I remember that eons ago, when I was a kid, decorating for Christmas holidays wasn't a particularly happy time. Mom and Dad, who loved each other deeply all other times of the year-- almost to the point of embarrassment-- seemed to bait each other during the season. The wrong color lights, too many lights, not enough lights. Inside, it was much the same. Decorating the inside tree was just one, long argument. The wrong tinsel, small bulbs, big bulbs...
     The pressure never ended--  the holiday gifts, decorations, church obligations and those dreadful, constant Christmas carols...  Having four rowdy kids under foot during the vacation probably didn't help. Of course, Christmas Day was exciting for us kids because the entire living room seemed to be stacked with presents, gloriously wrapped in beautiful colored paper and ribbons. Nellie, our dachshund, was already nosing through the gifts, looking for her gifts as we bounced down the steps.
     Dad's home movie of Christmas morning in 1957 shows the piles of gifts and wrapping, and it reminds us how much our Mom and Dad wanted us to be happy. We didn't understand the serious financial worry it certainly must have put on Dad, who was already working two jobs.
     Still today, I can't fathom how they raised four kids with the little money they had.

     Bah, humbug?  No, but I prefer enjoy our friends and family. Let's refuse to jump into a pressure cooker of our own making.

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