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This time of the year always brings back such fond childhood memories for me.

I feel very blessed having had parents who took great pleasure in seeing that their children had a magical Christmas. Our home was always alive and festive with decorations, Christmas records playing, food cooking, and lots of friends and family.

However, one thing that did NOT thrill my father about this holiday was having to hang Christmas lights on the outside of our house.

First of all, no matter how careful we were in packing them away the previous year, the strands of lights always came out of the box tangled in gargantuan KNOTS; therefore, my father had to detangle them.

That's when I first realized my father's favorite word was, "SHIT...SHIT...SHIT!"

And after the painstaking process of detangling, we would stretch each strand out on the lawn and then plug them in to check for any burned out bulbs. And if there were, we replaced them before we hung them.  

Since my father didn’t own a staple gun, each strand had to be hammered around the windowpanes and the along the edges of the house, using treacherous-looking nails that resembled vampire fangs. Like this...

My dad also had a fear of heights; therefore, whenever he had to climb the ladder, he would always get this wide-eyed, panicked look on his face and nervously whistle Frank Sinatra songs. Whistling always meant that he was about to step on a ladder.

But like the devoted father he was, he would reverently make the sign of the cross; start whistling; and climbed the ladder despite his fear. 

My job was to stand below the ladder and hold it firmly so it wouldn’t wiggle.

After the lights were hung, we’d go in the house and wait. As soon as it got dark, the whole family would run outside and stand at the edge of the driveway, as my father turned on the Christmas lights from a switch inside the foyer.

And as the house was suddenly illuminated, we’d all start jumping up and down; clapping and screaming...

*not my actual family home

Oh, what an adrenaline RUSH that was!

It's one of those memories that even today still makes me smile.

It was a magical Christmas moment!

However, I would also like to share another Christmas memory of something that I did as a child, just because I was bored and felt like being bad.

Sometimes, while my parents were out for the evening, I would sneak over to one of the neighboring homes and hide in the bushes until I was absolutely sure no one could see me. And then, using my mittens, I'd unscrew random Christmas bulbs from all over the outside of their house and placed them into my coat pockets. And after I got a substantial amount, I ran back to my house. 

Oh, and this is the best part….

I would take each bulb and throw it high into the air and then waited in glorious anticipation to hear it hit the street and POP!

POP!…POP!…POP!...POP!...POP!

OMG, it was so much fun, I can’t even tell you!

I felt like such a little devil. 

But sadly (and regretfully), those were the years I received only a few lumps of COAL...

------------------------------------------------

I would like to conclude this post with a photograph I found online that perfectly depicts how people looked when they had their picture taken back in the 50s. Did you ever notice that no one ever smiled in photographs? Everyone looked soooooo serious; even the kids. Instead of being all pumped up for the camera, they FROZE like statues. That poor guy on the far left in this photo looks so uptight that he's gritting his teeth. 

Instead of a cheery Christmas photo, this looks more like a police lineup.   

Here, look...


Not at all like today with our cellphone cameras where we can't wait to smile; pose; take selfies and then post them on social media. 

Like this one -- (me and my longtime blogging pal, Val, who met up in front of the Philadelphia Regional Rail Station last month)...


*Val, thanks so much for sending me this photo and for a fabulous day. It was so great seeing you again! πŸ’—


πŸŽ„Wishing all of you a VERY Merry Christmas! πŸŽ…


28 comments:

  1. Ron, this whole post cracked me up! What a great storyteller you are! I could just visualize you as Bad Ronnie unscrewing those bulbs and throwing them in the air, waiting for the POPS!

    And you're right, that 50s photo does resemble a police lineup. LOL!

    Glad you were able to meet up with your friend, Val. Great photo!

    Merry Christmas, Ron! Looking forward to reading you in 2023. xo

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  2. Morning, Candice!

    Wasn't I a little devil? LOL! I used to do all sorts of devilish things when I was a kid - soap people's car windows, toilet paper the outside of their houses, make phony phone calls!

    Isn't that photo hilarious? The second I spotted it online, I knew I wanted to include it with this post.

    Val and I hadn't met up in years, so we were very excited to see each other again. She's awesome! We had such a fabulous day catching up and walking around Philadelphia!

    Thanks so much for stopping by. Merry Christmas to you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    X

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  3. What fun memories you shared once again, Ron, even the naughty bits. We had those same type of bulbs (C9) at my childhood home, both on trees outside and on the indoor tree. Unlike your dad, my father did not put any around the house, but only on the front yard trees. Did the neighbors or your parents find out about your little prank?

    Yes, years ago, photos always showed non-smiling faces compared to today’s endless images where every thing is documented with a selfie. It was fun to see the photo of you and your friend, Val.

    Merry Christmas to you as well, Ron.

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  4. I haven’t seen Val blogging in years! How is she and her daughter? How fun that you two got together!!!

    That family photo is just awful! I wonder why they didn’t smile? The tree is pretty ugly as well! Ok, I have to tell you, I thought the lights popping title was about the indoor tree lights burning out. I vaguely remember a noise they’d make, like a pop. So, you’re saying you stole neighbors’ bulbs and threw them on the ground? WTH kind of Catholic kid does that??? Bahahaha……probably every one I ever knew! Ha!

    Fun post and memories, Ron. I like those old fashion bulbs. My husband put a strand in our large outdoor wreath and it looks really good. Much better than the small twinkle lights. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, Ron. Do you have plans or will you talk to your brother in Florida? Xoxoxo

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  5. It was soooooooooooooooooo great meeting up with Val! We acted like two kids when we saw each other; smiling, hugging and talking, talking, talking! She's going very well, and so his her daughter. It was wonderful to catch up on each others lives.

    Isn't that photo depressing? When I spotted it online, it reminded me of how people were in photographs back then. No one smiled. It was like they were so uncomfortable in front of the camera. Not at like today, HA!

    "So, you’re saying you stole neighbors’ bulbs and threw them on the ground? WTH kind of Catholic kid does that??? Bahahaha……probably every one I ever knew! Ha!"

    Yes, that's exactly what I mean!!!! Wasn't I wicked? LOL!!!! It was back when I lived in the house I shared on a post I published back in the summer, remember that one? It was the neighbor across the street from my house whose bulbs I'd unscrew and POP! We kind of had a like/dislike relationship with them. HA!

    Aren't those old fashioned bulbs so cool? Whenever I see them in photos, I'm reminded of my own childhood. And yes....much better than the small twinkle lights. And much sturdier too!

    Yup, I have plans on Christmas morning to have my coffee while talking to my brother in Florida. I will also be talking with a dear friend of mine who lives in Texas. For dinner, I'm going to make a nice, big pot of soup with bread. And then watch the Christmas movie, "Noel. "

    Merry Christmas, my friend! Wishing you and your family a faaaaaaaabulous New Year!

    X

    P.S. By the way, did you get my email? I sent you an ecard and a photo that I think you will find very funny!

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  6. Helloooooo there, D!

    "What fun memories you shared once again, Ron, even the naughty bits"

    HA! I know, wasn't I a naughty like Ronnie? I'm sure, as a Catholic school boy, I'll go straight to hell for doing that. LOL!

    " Did the neighbors or your parents find out about your little prank?"

    No, can you believe that? I think they thought it was the doings of a boy who lived in our neighborhood, a few doors down the street, who was always getting into trouble.

    Isn't it something how that has changed over the years? Back then, cameras were not used as much in day to day life, so I think people were just not comfortable having their picture taken. So, that's the reason for the "serious" photos, I guess.

    It was so wonderful meeting up with Val!

    Thanks so much for stopping by, D. And thanks for your Christmas card. It was ADORABLE!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    X

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  7. Ron, forgot to ask in my first comment - did you take that final photo of the Christmas tree? It's such a beautiful tree!

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  8. This made me laugh and smile, Ron! I would have liked shattering those lights right alongside you.

    I've often wondered why people didn't smile for photos back then!

    What a treat to meet a blogging friend in person! I usually tell people that if they happen to be in the Chicago area, they should let me know because I'd love to meet them.❤️

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday! XOXO

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  9. Yes I did. That tree is located in a shopping area not far from where I live. Isn't the tree beautiful? And it's HUGE! It looks especially beautiful at night with the lights.

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  10. Helloooooooo there, Kari!

    "I would have liked shattering those lights right alongside you."


    Oh, what FUN that would have been, right? There was something so "satisfying" about hearing those POP! POP! POP! sounds. LOL!

    I don't know, other than perhaps people were not as used to cameras as we are today. When I look at old black and white news film clips from years gone by, everyone in the film is just staring at the camera with these blank looks on their faces. Not at all like today, where we're all SMILING and POSING. Ha!

    "What a treat to meet a blogging friend in person! I usually tell people that if they happen to be in the Chicago area, they should let me know because I'd love to meet them.❤️"

    I TOTALLY agree with you! And if someday I ever get to Chicago (which I hear is a fabulous city), or you get to Philly, I hope to meet up with you too!

    Happy Holiday, my friend. So glad we met!

    X

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  11. Leaving now, but I will check that email account later and reply!!! XO

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  12. No worries, take you're time. I just wanted to let you know in case the email landed in your spam box. Have a great day!

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  13. Merry Christmas, Ron. This sounds like the Griswold Family Christmas movie! I always enjoy your childhood recollections. I don't remember Christmases in Illinois much (I think we usually had to make short but quick trips South to visit relatives instead). It wasn't much fun, actually, and the biggest problem was what to do about the presents. Open them early and sit silently while watching our cousins open theirs, or try to cram a few into an already-loaded car and take them with us. Argh!

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  14. OMG Debbie, you're absolutely right, it DOES sound like the Griswold Family Christmas movie. LOL! Which reminds me to watch it again this season because it's been ages!

    We had to visit relatives as well, but I'm pretty sure both Thanksgiving AND Christmas Day was at our house. But throughout the holiday season, we had to visit aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.

    Merry Christmas, my friend! And thanks so much for stopping by!

    X

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  15. Ron, I remember seeing those silver tinsel trees for sale and thinking how awful they looked. I don't mind putting up a fake tree, but one that's looks like a real one. Trees are not silver. LOL!

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  16. "Instead of a cheery Christmas photo, this looks more like a police lineup. " ROFLMAO! Ron, what's so funny about that is that it's so true. It does look like a police lineup!

    Another amusing Ron story! I wish I had known you as kids because I think we'd have a lot in common. And have a lot of fun! I can just picture your father apprehensively climbing the ladder and whistling, while you held the latter from wiggling. I bet you were tempted to wiggle it a little bit, just to freak him out. LOL!

    Great photo of your and your friend. I think it's great that you got to meet up again. One of these days I would love to meet you in person after reading your blog for so many years. One day, dude!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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  17. Hiya, Matt!

    That's the FIRST thing I thought of when I spotted that photo. A police lineup!!!!! Especially because of the expressions on all their faces.

    " I bet you were tempted to wiggle it a little bit, just to freak him out. LOL!"

    HA! No, I wasn't back then. However, I think if it happened today, I would!!!!!

    It was a such a great highlight last month, meeting up again with Val. It's been years since we've seen each other, so I was all excited to see her again. We both were. I've met several blogging friends over the years. And it was such a wonderful experience. Yes! One day we will too! I would love to meet you and your girlfriend.

    Wishing you a faaaaaaaaaaabulous Christmas and New Year, Matt!

    X

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  18. Well, my family was just the opposite when in front of the camera...we were goof-balls for the most part. Maybe not smiling, but always some kind of antics.
    We never had outdoor lights as a kid, until Bud & I married. The Christmas tree was all we had in my youth. Maybe that's why I go overboard decorating today.

    Ron...love your photo. Your Smile Is captivating!!! Merry Christmas

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  19. Oh Ron, your post brought back several Christmastime memories for me and my family as well. We (me, my sister and brother, and father) used to go through detangling, replacing bulbs, and then hanging the lights on our house on Long Island, NY. And like you, we got so excited on the night that we hung them after dark!!

    I laughed my arse off at the memory of your father whistling Frank Sinatra songs while climbing the latter. And those nails DO look like vampire fangs. LOL!

    True Confession: Okay, so as a kid, I never did what you did by taking the Christmas lights off a neighboring house and POPPING them in the street. But do you know what I did do? I used to UNplug certain sections of the lights on homes, so that there were BLANK spaces along the edging of the lights. Wasn't I a little devil????

    That family photo you shared of Christmas in the 1950s is hilarious! " this looks more like a police lineup." It truly does!

    So glad you and your friend Val got together. Isn't meeting people you blog with in person such a treat? Great photo, by the way!

    Merry Christmas, Ron! And I hope it SNOWS on Christmas Eve (and day) because it's supposed to get very cold this weekend. Yay! xoxo

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  20. Good morning, Elaine!

    OMG, that is hysterical! And I'm happy to know that I wasn't the ONLY little devil-child back then! Did your neighbors every discover that it was you who did it?

    I know, don't they look exactly like vampire fangs? I had the hardest time finding a picture of them online because I didn't know what they were called or if they even still made them.

    "That family photo you shared of Christmas in the 1950s is hilarious! " this looks more like a police lineup." It truly does!"

    That's the first image that popped into my head when I saw that photograph.....a police lineup! HA!

    Yes, it is a treat to meet up with people you blog with. Many years back, I met up with quite a few of my online blogging friends. We would meet here in Philly or even New York City. What fun!

    I too hope it snows this weekend because I saw on the weather channel yesterday that Saturday and Sunday are supposed to drop down into the 20s! Wouldn't it be so nice to have a white, snowy Christmas?

    Wishing you and your husband a Merry Christmas!

    X

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  21. Merry Belated Christmas, dear Ron! Sorry I'm so late to comment but I've been out of town for awhile (partly work related, partly holiday vacay). OMG, I LOVE this post! And what a hilarious post to come back to. You are the best story teller! As I shared before, you need to other have your own talk show or standup comedy show. You are soooooooooo funny!

    This made me LOL...."Instead of a cheery Christmas photo, this looks more like a police lineup" because it does! I love the expression on the two women. They look so stern and mean.

    I am so happy you and Val were able to meet up. I remember you mentioning it several of your posts a while back. Photos too!

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas day, Ron! Wishing you the best, best, best 2023! Can you believe we're heading into 2023?!?! God, I can remember when it was 2012. Seems like only yesterday. xoxo

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  22. Hola Denise!

    Oh, no worries, my friend. You're not late, you're exactly on time! Hope you had an awesome holiday vacay! As you can tell from the weather report, it's been FREEZING here (which as you know, I love). However, everyone else is bitching and moaning. And I'm like, "Excuse me...it's WINTER....it's suppose to be FREEZING!" LOL!

    I found that family photograph online. Isn't it priceless? I knew I wanted to include it in this post.

    Me too! Val and I had a very nice day together. It was so great to catch up with each other. She enjoys Philly and hopes to come back in the Spring for another visit.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas too! I know, can you freaking believe it's almost 2023?!?! Me too, I can remember writing 2012 on my checks. HA!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    X

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  23. Hi, Ron. I'm a little late, but still hoping you enjoyed a Merry Christmas!!!
    My dad put those big bulb lights around the open front porch. And we had two big plastic candles on each side of the steps that lit up. Inside, he hung garland on the living room ceiling, and put cork animal ornaments on it. And in the center was a musical hot air balloon with Santa. Our trees varied over the years, but my favorite was the kinda gaudy silver tree!! Mostly, I think my mom put blue ornaments on it and there was a reflector behind it that turned it red, orange, green, and blue. I remembered it so fondly that one year Ron found an old one (they sure aren't popular anymore! haha) on Ebay and bought it for me. AND, a color wheel, too! Before our enclosed front porch became a plant room, I put that tree up every year in the window. Still have it, too. It's a wreck of bent aluminum and old yellowed tape holding a few pieces together here and there, but I still adore it. Reminds me of childhood.
    YOU were a bad boy, Ronnie! haha. I can hear the POP POP POP in my mind! Just don't come over to my neighborhood for mischief! Ron does put a strand of those big colorful bulbs on the top of our fence of ivy.
    I'm glad to see you got to see Val. Always wonderful to catch up with old friends.

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  24. Hellooooooooooooooooooooooo Mary! And Merry Belated Christmas to you and your family! Hope you had a faaaaaaaabulous one!

    LOVED reading how your dad decorated for the Christmas holiday! Yes, I totally remember those big plastic candles that lit up because I saw those on some of the houses in my neighborhood when I was a kid!

    " And in the center was a musical hot air balloon with Santa. "
    OMG, that sounded so cool!

    And I cannot believe you mentioned the silver tree because we had the same one for so many years. The only difference was that ours had RED ornaments, but we DID have a reflector light too, that changed colors! God, I wonder if people still buy those trees anymore?!

    I know, wasn't I a BAD BOY RONNIE? And funny you mentioned mischief because I was SO mischievous on that night as well. It involved lots of toilet paper and bars of soup. LOL!

    It was so great to see Val again after many years. We had such a nice day hanging out together.

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary! Always a delight to see your comments!

    Wishing you and your family a Happy, Healthy, and Blessed New Year in 2023!

    X

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  25. Ron....you didn't!! πŸ˜† I love Christmas lights and get a little teary-eyed when I have to put them away for the season. Soooo...don't be coming over to my house, stealing lights and breaking them! Sometimes I think people didn't smile because of their teeth; I'm not sure braces were routine in the 50s and people might have been self conscious about their smiles. That tree at the end of your post is lovely!!

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  26. "Ron....you didn't!! πŸ˜† I love Christmas lights and get a little teary-eyed when I have to put them away for the season. Soooo...don't be coming over to my house, stealing lights and breaking them! "

    Yup, I did! LOL! It's no wonder I coal those years!

    "Sometimes I think people didn't smile because of their teeth; I'm not sure braces were routine in the 50s and people might have been self conscious about their smiles."

    Perhaps you're right. However, even when I look old/vintage moving pictures of people walking down a city street, no one smiling. What I think is that people were not as used to cameras as they are today. People back then seem very camera shy.

    Thanks! That tree is in a shopping area, not far from my apartment. I'm sad though, because the city will most likely take it down sometime this week.

    X

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  27. i'm all late to the party. i'm not a fan of christmas, but i'm down for anything that brings family together. get togethers should be done more often.

    and that picture of the non-smiling people is a hoot. you couldn't tell if it was a happy time or a sad time.

    funny now that's how we have to take our passport pictures, like mug shots. that's when i want to smile because i'm going on holiday.

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  28. No worries, Val. You're right on time to the party!

    Isn't that photo a HOOT? They look soooooooooooo serious and stern. And you're right, are they happy or sad?

    HA! And you're also right about passport pictures because I had to get a passport in the 70s when I went to Amsterdam for business.

    X

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