The house I grew up in was shaped like a milk carton. It was two stories high with a pointed roof. It had an attached garage with lower roof that wrapped around the back of the house to cover the deck. The outer walls were embedded in white and black rocks with bits of clear glass intermingled. The trim was a shiny black around the windows, the garage door and the upper level. The garage door was not one that opened over head -- instead it had doors that swung out. I don't remember a vehicle ever being parked in there, but I remember the doors being open on nice spring days while Dad covered the top of the driveway in tools and wood so he could work.
The front lawn was hidden from view by a large pine tree. The tree seemed higher than the house itself and stretched across the front of the lawn. Each year, my Dad would take out his homemade light stringing stick -- two pieces of wood nailed together with a small T at the top -- and wind the Christmas lights as high as he could reach. He always did this on the coldest day of the year. It was preferable if it was -40 or if there was a blizzard that impaired vision. I always had to help.
There was a deep bay window on the left side of the house. If you were to look inside, you would be looking into our living room. A real tree would be placed in the centre of the window to maximize both location, outer visibility and the amount of presents we could fit underneath it. On the far back side of the room, you could see the piano where Mom would sit on a regular basis either just to pass the time away playing or to entice us out of whichever room we were in to sing along with her.
I see most of the house in amazing clarity, but am stumped when I think of Christmas decorations. I know the living room and music area was decked out in full. I know that the staircase had a mesh wall painted white that served as a protection against children falling from off the stairs. This is where the stockings were hung by wire hooks until they were filled on Christmas Eve. Our handmade decorations made up the most of the decor -- Santas made of old magazines, Rudolfs made of popsicle sticks and red pom poms.
I remember laying on the floor, amid all the presents, looking up into the tree and breathing in the deep smell of Christmas -- pine, baking, and wrapping paper. I lay there and marvelled at the beauty of it all. Then we would all gather downstairs, curled on the couch and pillows on the floor, to watch The Muppet Christmas or Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas and eat goodies until bed time.
This was my childhood Christmas. In the house where I grew up.