Written in 2002, I can vouch for its truth since it is one about our family:
Christmas at our childhood home, in the 1950's and 1960's was always filled with love and energy, church and community, and special family experience. Mother's eleven siblings, Father's seven...family Holiday visits took all twelve days !
Both parents loved all the traditions and observances, especially at the Winter Holidays.
Ohhhh ! the preparations might have eclipsed the actual events, but never did - not once. Our parents were good ones and young, bright, beautiful, creative, and each year, we got busy, happily sharing everything that pleased, to make Christmas special. It is once again safe to gather a bit of the classic running pine, from Gramp's woods. Treats before and after the hard work and then home to weave the strands into garland and literally "Deck the Halls!"
Winter lost its power to freeze, entirely ! Holiday-glowing !
Electric light shows on the outside of the house were a new thrill - ours outlined in lights and the latest was two lighted candlesticks of molded plastic, by the front door AND a Welcoming plastic lighted Santa !
- and so "The Star"! Just an idea....Our Dad was a creator and innovative - often the first on the block to own the latest technology. Now another idea: Commemorating The Star of Bethlehem, this year on our housetop would be a special star, like the star on the Christmas Tree. If we could do it right, only the Original Star of Bethlehem could be better ! A lively crew of us assembled - we were a team called to action !
First, "the good talk" and planning sessions at the kitchen table, included lots of talking with the hands, drawing out the design in the air and then with pencil to paper - and sketches and plans for the project, so that our Star might dazzle and yet be practical, durable, safe and weatherproof. The excitement as all contributed their ideas - "This will work - that won't ....no no no , not that, but this.." The ideas, like laughter, flew around the room. On paper next, final - sketched into a thing to do: architectural lines and measures done with a carpenter's flat pencil - planning was soon followed by some shopping for supplies, and then some serious evenings' work. Even a boring early week supper went fast and with gusto; dishes cleared, table pushed back to the wall to create an open work space on the kitchen floor.
Our household even had it's own Angel - a very special "Angel", a devoted friend of many gifts - his nickname because he resembled the famous "Swedish Angel" wrestling celebrity and was disabled. Our Angel was given to impressive devotion to all of us for Mother's kindness to him - a distant cousin. Casimir "Angel" Zdanowicz excelled in all small building and would build a motor boat for your yacht , without a ruler ! His genius ! OUR Christmas "Angel" indeed - year round if there was a thing he COULD do , he did it, and was seldom idle. The town grew to love his specialness and he worked always there, adopted by a local family, after we moved and lived to almost 90. A special one. And so, most certainly, "The Ange" was certain to be on hand for this!
Now, we gathered in the kitchen to assist and kibitz, as the work began...singing the holiday songs in three languages throughout !
Now it was begun with a sturdy wood backbone, so Angel and our Father went to work at that ! We might be allowed to help measure and mark the wood, with the funny, flat pencil always behind Angel's ear, when not in use.
Next, a faceted, three-dimensional skeleton was created for the contours of the star, with wooden lath and dowelling, and supports for endurance at every angle, and there was no weak space. Connecticut's winter storms would not bring it down.
Then Mother and we three children, began our main job, with boxes of aluminum foil, unrolling and crimping sheets of the shiny stuff, to create "billions and billions" of facets in them, when partly smoothed out. Such fun! Aluminum foil was new to us and so it was no chore to wiggle the faceted sheets, this way and that, and pick up their exciting lights! It was before 1960 - and we were in no hurry to be done - except with anticipation to see the result of all this fun - oops, I mean 'work' .
The crimped, smoothed foil was then stapled to the frame to fill out the contours created by the skeleton. All joins and seams were double felled for strength and stapled firmly in place. We jumped back and forth, between hushed devotion to the task, and just plain old-fashioned glee ! Our star was already looking amazing! What a scene we were ! The night was dark and chilling and for a moment , in the warm bright kitchen, it seemed were WERE the light - giving all the dark matter the good fight and winning easily.
Finally, the wire and sockets for the lights - bulb-less for safety - were carefully fastened along each edge, height, width and depth of each point. In years to come, we'd vary the colors - multi-color, all-white, all blue was special, or all golden yellow! The Star was over 4 feet tall and so the use of the large, four-inch, heavy-duty outdoor holiday light bulbs were fastened in each socket.
The mood getting serious now...it was electricity and it was holy and it was almost done!
Time to place at the rooftop!
So , keeping watch for safety and steady footing, we made the careful parade to the upstairs hall - and Angel and our Father out the hall front window, to the front porch roof, fastening our Star to the top front of our home, with both braces and "guy wires" of a sort, so that even the strongest winds would not disturb it.
Then back indoors through the window, our Father making sure we gathered around him attentively. One of us would sometimes race down to the front yard for the view and to check for correctness in uprights and slant. Through the holiday, we'd need to be ready to take our turn doing the on/off and changing bulbs as needed. Our Father would demonstrate the safe and strong method for creating the electrical connection. We could barely breathe for excitement! .
NOW - the moment! All with big eyes! There was no noise!
... the 'power-on' , as the rest of us flew to the front yard ...3...2...1...
Tah Dahhhhh !!!
Fiat Lux !!! Let there be Light !!! YES!!!! oh yes! - the STAR did not disappoint! Glowing on the housetop, the star was more than four feet high, not including its supports, and twenty feet up , it dazzled the entire neighborhood!
It was only about 1960 - such light shows were done, but nothing like this Star !
So the Word spread and People came from miles around to see ! We blushed with pride! Just gleeful over both the star and the excitement and enrichment it created at Wintertime ! And we Remembered that it was NOT about us - it was about the First Christmas Star that brought visitors to see THE Light so long ago!
A real Christmas Star! And a very grateful memory fifty years later to share and pass on: if you like I will make the pattern and share it here, but you must ask. It's easy - you'll love it !
This true story comes with a true post-script: Dad worked for the people who soon had him making the crimped gold foil on NASA's Lunar Landing Module but we did not know it , when we made the Star - we COULD NOT know - or could we? e.
May the special star that you ARE glow forever! If you enjoyed the story, please tell me!