Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughts of Christmases Past

Jennifer AlLee

When I was a kid, I lived in the heart of Hollywood, California. Above a mortuary, no less. So there were no white Christmases in our neighborhood. But there was a lot of Christmas spirit.

Here I am by our Christmas tree. There's no date on the photo, so I'm guessing I was around five, which would make this 1969. Check out the tinsel on the tree. We did that every year. Does anybody still put tinsel on their trees?

Of course, no walk down Christmas memory lane would be complete without a photo from the annual Christmas pageant. Here I prove that I really am a little angel. I think I was in kindergarten in this one, attending Bethany Lutheran church & school, right in the heart of Hollywood. Sadly, the church no longer exists. Come to think of it, the mortuary no longer exists, either. Hmm... is my childhood being systematically erased? Sorry.. I digress.. back to Christmas!

I know exactly what year this picture is from: 1975. We had moved to a house in North Hollywood, but my mom still drove me to school at Bethany. My cousin Jackie (on the right) and I thought it would be fun to pose under the tree. Silly girls. A close look at the tree makes me wonder if we were using the same ornaments from the top picture. I know we were still hanging tinsel. And apparently, we were drawn to wiiiiiide trees.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Today, my family spends less time decorating our own home, and more time enjoying what others have done. Like the yearly display at the Bellagio. Here my son, Billy, is dwarfed by last year's decorations.

No matter what you do, whether you cover your tree in bling, blow out circuit breakers with your personal light display, or go for a more low-key celebration, it will be unique to your family. Savor the memories. Enjoy and be blessed!

 JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her next two novels are The Mother Road (April 2012) and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (November 2012), both from Abingdon Press. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at


  1. Jen you really were a little angel. And so cute to boot.

    I think you just stumbled on a great premise for your next Twilight Zone meets Women's Fiction stash. Someone finds out that history is being erased, but how can the world have a future with no past. Cue the eerie music.

  2. Love the pics! You were an adorable kid.

    Oh, I wish I could join you at the Bellagio conservatory! I thought of you while watching a Christmas special on "extreme Christmas trees," because they showcased the one at the Bellagio. I learned that the red star on top of the tree (in the pic with Billy) is too heavy for the tree to bear its weight, and it has to be hung from the ceiling.

    Thanks, Jen.

  3. Hahaha. I'm with you in looking at other people's decorations. We went for a drive last night to look at houses. My husband thinks it's hilarious that I'm so conservative with my house, but I like looking at "extreme decorating" (his words). Hey, as long as I don't have to do the work...

  4. We usually take a drive around town before Christmas and look at all the lights too. This year somehow we didn't get any up. Just the tree inside which can be seen from the street, so I guess that's something.

  5. Lisa, LOVE the story idea. That can be your Christmas present to me ;)

  6. Susie, we'll be going to the Bellagio in the next couple days. Been waiting for Marcus so we can take a family photo... which is why this year, I'm sending out New Year's letters, not Christmas letters. We go with the flow...

  7. CJ, I'm with you. When we lived in Ohio, we draped lights over the bushes, but other than that, we've never had outside lights. But I'm very thankful for our neighbors across the street, who have hung enough lights for me to live vicariously in their glow!

  8. I want tinsel. I miss it and darnit I'm going to get some next year.

    Thanks for the photos and another trip down an Inky memory lane. I have to look again when the screen is bigger than 1 by 2 inches.

    Jen you're not getting any snow are you?

  9. Deb, doesn't look like it'll be a white Christmas this year. But we have had snow three times since we moved here. Last year we had quite a bit (quite a bit for Nevada). It stuck until about 10AM :)

  10. Oh, more precious Christmas pictures!

    I remember tinsel. Couldn't think of having it now unless I wanted to end up with four cats in the ER. They'd HAVE to eat it, you know. O.o

    I've been looking for pics to post, too, but evidently they're all a casualty of my Dad's dead computer.

    It rains in my heart.

  11. Hey Jen, lovely photos. I was thinking the same thing about your wiiiiiiide tree. In fact, after seeing the second one, I zipped back up to the first pic to make sure it wasn't the same tree. LOL

    I knew you lived above a mortuary because you spoke of it when you told the story of your kidnapping on my Author Memories blog. That memory was a doozie! And your home looks so...normal. Haha.

    I enjoyed this post immensely, Jen. It was on the same level as that little pooch who rescued you when you were 3.



  12. I'm just loving these old pictures. What a great idea Anita had.

    And I don't know that I miss tinsel too much. It wasn't so bad on a real tree, but I remember having to take it off an artificial one. Yikes.

  13. Barb I have an artificial tree. So the tinsel idea will probably bring regrets?

    Yes I love this Inky Christmas idea. Aren't photos fun? You will be surprised that mine are not all black and white.

    Jen I remember your snowy winter. We are in the fifties and the grass is still green. I'm okay with this. White Christmas is sentimental but I don't like snowy roads.

    Hey Susie. I watched Christmas in Connecticut this week!! Sweet and funny.

  14. Funny that you mention tinsel because we're in the middle of decorating our artificial tree and the boys just cringed when I said we're adding tinsel this year. I have 6 boxes I bought for 25 cents each at a Boxing Day sale so the way I figure it, that's 1 box a year for the next 6 years. :D We stopped putting tinsel on years ago when I got tired of pulling it out of our cat's butt, but she's been gone a couple years now. And I've missed the sparkly stuff. Looking back at the photos, there is no comparison between the trees with tinsel and without. I'll take the mess any year. Well, for 6 years anyway. Haha.

    And why are we so late putting our tree up... let's just say the flooding this year caused havoc to our tree and lights which meant hours spent looking for the problem. We never found the problem, so had to wait for our aniversary when we had a trip to the city scheduled. Now we're ready.

    I don't mind the tinsel. With carols on the radio or a Christmas movie to listen to, I hold the silver strands in the palm of my hand and slide out a few at a time. It's a peaceful journey walking around the tree laying a few here, a few there until every branch has one or two perfectly balanced strands of glittering tinsel. Taking it off is the same in reverse until I'm back to a handful, albeit not so even strands. Usually I'd put them back in the box they came in, save for the dozen or so that were lost in the process - or eaten by our cat, Trouble. But with 6 boxes, I'll have to see what mood I'm in this year when we take it down.


  15. DeAnna, so sorry about your pics! That's one thing I always fear losing. I've made several backup CDs and have crossed my fingers :+}

  16. Thanks Anita & Barb. It was sure fun going down memory lane digging through the old pics.

    As for the tinsel, the stuff we had back in "the olden days" was much better than what's available now. Probably had lead in it, but it hung really well :+} The new stuff is mylar (I think) and just doesn't hang the same way. But Deb, you'll have to let us know how it goes if you try it out next year :+}

  17. Jen, not only do I remember tinsel, but I remember we had an aluminum tree. Every year we had to put it together, by sticking one shiny branch at a time into a pole that was supposed to be the tree trunk.

    Anita, I now have this image of you on your hands and knees, chasing a cat while grabbing at ... Well, um, you know ... ;-)

  18. DeAnna, I missed this until I saw Jen's comment go by... I know how you feel! I lost 2000 pics when my computer crashed 3 yrs ago. That's why I have and external hard drive plus about 50GB stored on SD cards, now.

    But I'm curious... personal computers are a product of the past 20 years. Why wouldn't your dad have some of the print ones? Oh wait - my memory is horrid, but were you the one who was talking about losing stuff in a fire recently?

  19. Oh, no. No fires in my family, thank God. I'm sure Dad has pictures . . . somewhere. It's just so much easier to do computer stuff with them when they're already scanned and ready.

    Now I'll have to go see what I can find. When I can.


  20. Don't laugh too hard, Suzie - We'd start by seeing who could stamp the fastest as Trouble ran by. It took awhile because we always made sure she was out of danger which meant the tinsel was gone by the time our foot actually landed. After a few passes, she'd settle down to clean herself and that's when we'd get worried she'd start the process again, so we'd get down beside her and ... well ... you know.

    Oh, the pleasures of owning a cat.

  21. Deb, you watched Christmas in Connecticut? Have you seen The Bishop's Wife yet? I love that movie. Haven't found it yet this year. I really need netflix.

    Want, not need. :)


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