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 completed, 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.
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