Sam Ross Henderson

  1964 -
  City of Birth:
Philadelphia, PA

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Sam's Story > Categories > HOLIDAYS

"December 5 - Outdoor Decorations" 


Date Range: 1972 To 1987   Comments: 2   Views: 11,133
Attachments: No

December 5 - Outdoor Decorations

Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations? Tell us in the comments below or write your own Story or blog post about this!


If you've never had the pleasure of viewing this - please take a few minutes to watch this spectacle below. It's awesome. How they had the patience for it I don't know.

I remember my father would like to string those big bulbed colored lights around on the bushes (not the house, my mother was a worrier so the hassle of being on the ladder while she fretted and micro-managed wouldn't have been worth the effort). He would store them in an old cardboard box. Back then if one failed, the entire string didn't light. But first we had to untangle them. Oh how we detested that! No matter how neatly my father would wind and store the string of lights they ALWAYS got into a tangle.

When he would huff and puff into the attic us kids would go running and hide - anything (even doing the dishes!) was preferable to untangling the lights.

My father too had his things that he micro-managed and this was one of them. He'd want you to HELP, but we were always "doing it wrong". We'd try to swing an end over and he'd tell us they should be under.

Finally the lights would be untangled in a long, prickly string in the living room. Next came in the 'hold your breath' moment while they were plugged in to see if they worked. I don't think, or at least certainly don't remember, them EVER working the first time. They'd been in the attic - hot them cold - for a year. And the bulbs were basically painted on the inside so you couldn't see if the filaments were broken.

So one by one we had to unscrew a bulb then plug it back in (we couldn't leave it plugged in because my mother was certain we'd get electrocuted and die). Finally MAGIC - the string would light up and we'd cheer & clap.

Dad would carry the front and we'd carry the rest gingerly outside in the cold, diligently holding them while he strung them "just so" around the bushes.

Then we'd run back inside where Mom had made us some hot cocoa and sit by the big front window and look at the magic outside of the lights reflecting in the snow.

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Member Since
Aug 2008
Adara Bernstein said:
posted on Dec 05, 2009

I'd never seen that before. That's -- I'm just speechless. Do they start planning for that in June?

I too remember those tangled lights. We'd put up a few white ones, very plain. I was always envious of the families who had colored ones.

Member Since
Oct 2009
Henrietta Giseppe said:
posted on Dec 06, 2009
that ONE house

There is always one house in the neighborhood who went overboard. Like way over the top. They didn't do anything at all for any other holiday like Halloween, just Christmas. Probably because their decorations were all about the stable and Mary & Joseph and the baby and animals in the manger. They had lights everywhere and as a child I thought it was really neat, but then as I got older I felt more like it was a trashy way of forcing their religious beliefs on the rest of the community. We lived in a very mixed neighborhood and it felt as though they felt threatened by these other people and wanted to declare loudly where they were on the spectrum.