Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thoughts...on my Decorating Friends.

I sit here in my kitchen, snow falling outside, and missing my husband and eldest daughter as they are on the trek to Omaha to retrieve the van. The rental had to be returned yesterday by 1:30 and it's a 24-hour drive so they left bright and early Christmas morning. Hence a new "adult" Christmas tradition was born....opening presents on Christmas Eve.  It was very warm and cozy with a fire going, and I think I might vote for continuing doing things that way in the future.

I was just fooling around on Facebook and realizing that so many of the contacts that I have there are people I've met through the Christmas decorating community. Yes, it is known as a "community."   I know this might seem strange to people who are not part of it, but those folks who go crazy decorating their houses each year actually network on websites, forums and on Facebook. Many of them meet each other at expos, educational workshop days and weekends, and other fun events.  Decorating enthusiasts are part of a rapidly growing community devoted to the hobby of not only lighting your house for Christmas, but animating the lights through computer programs that are increasingly sophisticated. LUCKY LUCKY ME! I had already written the right song for this group of folks, and someone found it, and all of this had nothing to do with me promoting it or anything. It was out there on iTunes and other sites and had been available since 1998.  I'm just fortunate that the first decorator found it, and then it caught on.  I've had such a wonderful time getting to know so many great people that I made sure to write some new songs for them on the latest album. It's just a wonderful thing to see what they do with my music.  I'm really blessed by watching their videos and by the displays I've gotten to see in person.

I first found this community through one of the  very first "House on Christmas Street" videos that popped up on YouTube back in 2006...which led me to  I signed up and introduced myself on one of the forums, and was greeted enthusiastically by the folks there. Since then my life has been enriched SO MUCH by being accepted into this group of amazing people. They are all over the world, and I am lucky to call many of them not just contacts, but FRIENDS.  

I've met them at conventions and at their houses. I've met hosts on my tour, and I've met other decorators who have come out to see me in concert on the tour.  Many I've only met online, but I feel like I know them just the same. They add fun and joy to my life, and a sense of support and encouragement.  And I am VERY grateful.  

I don't have an animated display, for the record, but I have done a good sized display for many years at my house, since before I wrote the song. I've ALWAYS loved outdoor Christmas decorations, since I was a little kid.  The thing that always "got" me was Santa on the roof.  However, at my house I have never been brave enough to get him up there. I did fall out a window once trying to jury-rig him so it looked like he and the reindeer were flying down from the roof. Luckily I fell into bushes.   Yup, it's me that does's not Philip's "thing," although he has been helping these past few years.  I'll never get into synchronizing the lights...I just don't have the time or the smarts or the patience.  But I do love my blow molds!

Anyhow, like any other community, people have differences, but I am fortunate that the folks that I have met have just been the nicest people on Earth. Just imagine what a person must be like who spends most of their time thinking about how to get Santa to fly over their house, or how to make the display the most fun for children, or where to set up the snowmen (cause there's never just one!).  Or people, like Paul Aziz in Oregon, who actually invent animatronic figures, like his talking and singing snowman.  These are folks with imagination, skills and a sense of whimsy, who understand the wonder of childhood. Each decorator is somewhat of a Disney in their own right.

The majority of these folks not only design a display, but they create a whole  30-minute radio program to go with their display, so people can park at their house, turn their radio on a certain frequency and hear a show while they watch lights.  On my tour I've seen tons of people parked in cars with their families, enjoying a take-out supper and watching the show. How many people all over the world have been entertained for free like this?

Kevin Dunn, a.k.a "The Demented Elf", is responsible for developing the radio program feature and his voice can be heard all over the world at displays.  He is also a super-nice person who has had a radio career and makes the programs sound very professional. He has his own year-round radio station, too:  They plan to play music for every holiday all year round.

Then there are the people who  actually build a walk-through display at their homes, like Larry and Rachel Charpiat in North Carolina, Darrel Moyer in Pennsylvania, and Tommy Sosebee in South Carolina.  They spend hours and hours getting it right, and then they devote their ENTIRE CHRISTMAS SEASON to helping strangers park, giving them hot chocolate for FREE and handing out candy canes.  They practically have amusement parks in their yards, and for many of the people around a visit to their display is a yearly tradition, and yet they don't charge a cent for admission.  And many of them have donation boxes at their displays for a local charity, to boot.

Well, I could go on and on.  Again, I'm just reflecting upon my good fortune of having so many wonderful people in my life because of that one song.  If you are one of them and you are reading this, I want you to know that I do not take you for granted. I am blessed to know each and every one of you. Thank you for accepting me into your community of joy.  You have put so many smiles on my face, made me laugh and sing and made me feel special.  I really and  truly love you all and I wish you the happiest of new years. Thank you for all that you do to make the world a brighter place!!!

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