My Holiday Traditions of Decorating in the Family

Posted: December 30, 2007 in Life

Here it is. The 12th month of the year. Christmas is coming and the halls are decked. For me the 12th month of putting up holiday decorations around the house and church is not just a hobby, but a tradition. A tradition that started in the 1980’s when yours truly, was coming up in the city. And plus it gets me in the mood for my December Birthday, which is December 5th, and my Parents Anniversary. This week, my parents will mark their 38th Anniversary on December 20th. Had to put that out there!

Hanging of the Greens

The first part of tradition is the Church. Every November, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my mother and I display the Christmas Decorations. This tradition was originally named as the "Hanging of the Greens" which came from my late Grandmother, Elsie E. Burton. Whom also was one of the founding charter members of my church – St. James United Methodist Church. It was her idea of the family to put up the Christmas decorations in order to get the church ready for the Advent Season. Our family did this every year. Including after her death in 1991. Since that year, my mother, aunts, and siblings took the reigns in the mid 90’s,(I didn’t like it that much) but when the 2000’s came, I jumped aboard the family tradition. For seven years, I not only assisted my mother, but also became part of the leadership role of designing, decorating, and assistance of the annual project. This year we displayed Artificial Poinsettias around the Altar, with the Christmas Tree in the foreground. Also in the Sanctuary, my mother displayed mini-Christmas trees in the windows to display a different look, plus in the altar, a table centered with 5 candles wrapped around with green garland.

Now, the question is why the five candles? Each candle represents 5 Sundays in Advent and the big candle is the Christ candle that receives the flame last. Out in my church’s Narthex, we displayed several churches with lights, two mini Christmas Trees, and cotton snow to give that decoration of winter in the season. Also, on our Credenza, a Nativity Scene is set up with a mechanical Angel lights up the Star of Bethlehem.

Plus, here’s a throwback decoration:(since throwbacks are in style now!) I found four banners in our church that haven’t been used in years. These four banners displayed: "Messiah", "Noel", "Wise Men Still Seek Him", and the most important banner, "Jesus is the reason, for the season". These banners have been around since 1985, for me about 9-10 years old. And these banners were around since my late pastor, Rev. Herbert McGuin was the minister at that time. Around 4 years ago, I dug up the old banners once again and redisplayed them in the sanctuary, in their original spots, and it gave the sanctuary a defining look of not only new messages, but an old saying of what Christmas is really about. Even the kids attending my Church now are getting the message of what I have witnessed at their ages.

Recognizing the Classics

Now, the home decorations. Like many of us, we probably had or have family members that put up Christmas Decoration year after year. My father is one of those people. Ever since I was a child, around this year my father would go to the storage boxes or displays and put up the Christmas Decorations. From Santa’s Sleigh on the roof, lights on the garage, wreath in the center of the house, another Santa on the porch with Frosty, Spiral Trees on the Front Lawn, a garland around the lamppost, and some Reindeer near by. Inside the house, there would be a Christmas Tree, Garland, Nativity Scenes, stockings, lights, and at one time candles, the ones that you can plug in and not light up. After all those times that my dad decorated the house, I was all inspired that I could one day do the same thing. He stopped putting them up years ago because of some vandals would come over and just mess them up. That ain’t right!

Now, it’s my turn to deck the house. I have been decorating my sister’s house for seven years. And every time I do this, usually 5 days after my birthday, I think about back in the day in getting ready for the Christmas Season. Usually following in my father’s footsteps. So, all in all, this tradition is not just a fly by night hobby of talent. But a way of recognizing the old and blend in with the new. Now, I’m satisfied that I am able to keep the thing going, in a new, 21st Century way.

When I get a break in mid-December, I pullout some of my favorite holiday movies and shows that take the pressure off of my Holiday-mode ideas. By the way some of these are out on DVD:

The Simpsons Christmas 1 and 2. Check the "Tis the Fifteenth Season" on the 2nd DVD!

SNL: The Christmas Episodes from years past like Church Chat, Matt Foley: Motivational Santa, and Garrett Morris singing Winter Wonderland. Some of you may remember these.

Bill Murrary’s Scrooged

A Diva’s Christmas Carol – Yes, there is a female version of the Dickens classic starring Vanessa Williams.

Die Hard 1 and 2 – Yes, I dig John McClaine at Christmas Time!

WWE Tribute to the Troops – Like wrestling or not, this is a good show to watch as the wrestlers perform for the troops stationed in the Middle East. Mostly Iraq and Afghanistan.They have done their 5th annual tradition by entertaining our servicemen which can be seen on Christmas Eve. If you have cable or satellite, check the USA Network. Why do they do this? To appreciate our Armed Forces. That’s It.

Friday After Next – This movie had Katt Williams as Money Mike, and Terry Crews of Everybody Hates Chris, as Damon. This is Ice Cube’s third "Friday" movie. If you saw the movie, you know what I’m talking about!

Home Alone 1 and 2 – That’s right. The Original and the Second Movie. As far as the third and fourth, no comment.

And Christmas Episodes of Martin, In Living Color, Living Single, Married With Children, and Fresh Prince.

One more thing. Back in day, my family used to go from one house to another to celebrate the holiday. Mostly my grandmother’s house and then my grandfather’s house on my mother’s side. We also did that with my father’s side in December of 1986, following the death of my late grandmother Carrie McClinton. I was getting used to being 10 years old back then. It would be my parents, sister, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends just to get together and celebrate. This was the 1980’s and we had fun doing it. Some of us remember playing my grandmother’s piano, but we didn’t sing any Christmas Carols! We used to go to our stockings by the fireplace that my late grandmother prepared and we find either candy, toys, fruit, walnuts and more. After we had dinner, then came the presents. When that was done, we went over to my grandfather’s house and did the same thing, and back home.

But things kind of slowed down for us after 1991 when my late grandmother Elsie Burton passed. Then the scene shifted to my late Grandfather’s house between 1992-1999, after he passed. Once again, on my mother’s side. In 1999, my parents house was a mainstay for the Holidays. One of my aunts had a mainstay of Christmas over at her house in 2001, which was my grandfather’s house that belonged to Robert Burton, Sr. In the past couple of years, my sister’s house has become the new mainstay for the family get together with Christmas. And I know that even though that wasn’t like back then, but the spirit of the tradition was moving forward. That’s all we have to do. Just keep moving forward, for my baby cousins and my sister’s Godsons. Hopefully this year, would be a new start for us, now since my late Grandfather (my father’s dad) is not going to be there in person. I don’t know how it’s going to be. Last Christmas there were signs that he didn’t eat much. And that was about him not feeling well. And that lead to his death from Christmas Day of last year to March 26th of this year. I know that my grandfather wouldn’t want us to stop. Like Ozzy Osbourne said in his song this year,"I don’t wanna stop!" We’ll have fun though.

To conclude: That’s my holiday tradition in the family.

Merry Christmas Comment Graphics


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