It was announced and supposedly being discussed all over our community that the Lions Club in my hometown of Richland was sponsoring the first inaugural Christmas outdoor decorating contest.
I always decorated inside our home with an attractive tree and other adornments, but I never attempted to present an outdoor display; however, the contest offered a unique opportunity. There were only a few days to get the yard in order so I needed to begin immediately to have things ready for an unannounced viewing.
The side yard of our house that faced Augusta Street, was the choice location for the scene to be viewed from the road, so the beautification chores began the next morning. After the initial grooming of the yard was completed, a live tree was relocated from the nearby woods and our older abandoned ornaments were put to use again, since there was sure to be some inclement weather during December.
Scott helped fabricate a pretend fireplace and rigged up a light that when the appliance-sized bulb was wrapped with red scrap material, it appeared to be a burning fire.
Otto fashioned a wooden framework for the fireplace and even a fashionable mantle, and mounted several flood lights to illuminate the entire setting at night. Arlin decorated the massive cedar tree and then arranged fresh greenery and berries on the mantle. We parked our dune buggy in the yard and put the life size plastic Santa beside the vehicle, appearing that he had recently arrived in our scene. Nanny added to our decorations by placing a large area rug near the hearth of the fireplace and adding two antique candlesticks on the mantle. A set of colored lights were scattered around the shrubbery and our vignette was coming together.
We wrapped numerous empty boxes and piled them near the Christmas tree, and positioned a child’s red wagon and a bicycle into the panoramic view. I will admit that by the time it was complete, I was really optimistic about winning the contest, securing the monetary grand prize, and having our holiday entry published on the front page of my hometown newspaper, the Stewart Webster Journal.
Yes, we did win first place, and we were delighted when our friend Billy Poteet delivered the good news, the sign declaring our winnings, and of course the check. But it was a while later before I learned that what totally secured our place in the history book was the fact that while the judges were gazing at our entry and formulating our score, our family pooch, Dusty Dog, strolled up to the fireplace and leisurely laid on the rug in front of the fire.
From our house to yours — Merry Christmas to all, and remember the true reason for the season — my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was born this day.