Like many of us, Wichita florist Marleen Valliere puts her Christmas stuff in the same spots every year. But this year, she let two of her friends have at her decorations.
“When they assembled it, it was different from what I do, and I thought, ‘That’s sweet,’ ” Valliere said.
She reciprocated by helping her friends decorate their houses – and each time, there were cocktails and food to make it a party.
“This makes for a nice get-together and a nice party – it pulls people out of ruts of what they do with their homes,” Valliere said. “ ... It gives a refreshing new look to what you have and what you work with every year. It takes the burden out of decorating, which is a gift to friends. When people are being interactive, when people go to each other’s homes and deck the halls, it is festive.”
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Seeing Christmas through other people’s eyes can help us have a new appreciation, too. When we asked readers about some of their holiday preferences, we got the same refreshed feeling. Here are some of their responses.
Clear white lights or multi-colored lights?
“Both: white inside, colored outside.” – Valerie Ledesma, Wellington
“White lights, to match the stars in the heavens.” – Beth Landrum, Wichita
“Growing up – I was born in 1953 – multi-colored lights on the tree. (Now), in an apartment on the lake, I put clear lights around the balcony.” – Melissa Stephens, Wichita
“Multi-colored lights, and they should twinkle. (Your narrator must interrupt here, to ask a question: What’s become of twinkling lights?) I don’t think you can get them any longer. I had some several years ago – they were the mid-sized lights that screwed into sockets on the string. You used a regular light string, and got flashing lights to put on it. Since each light was self-contained and flashed independently of the others, it gave you the twinkling effect that was so neat. Now, the ‘flasher’ light controls a section of string and you get (unfortunately) that ‘emergency flasher’ effect instead.” – Pat Knoop, Winfield
Real tree or fake?
“Fake but looks really real!” – Jane Deterding, Colwich
“Fake (unfortunately). Had a real tree growing up and miss it.” – Valerie Ledesma
“Fake tree. I hate having to wait to put up a real tree and then taking it down so soon because it is so dry.” – Connie Foster, Wichita
“A fake tree, with some pine spray, because I don’t want to kill a tree, but love the smell of pine, and childhood memories of a real tree. Actually I’d prefer a real one, if I could plant it, and hang seed suet from it for the birds, but we are old, with less get up and go!” – Beth Landrum
“No tree, a wreath. I wired white and red balls to a wreath that leans against the wall above the fireplace.” – Melissa Stephens
“Real tree is best, but fake will do if it’s your only option.” – Pat Knoop
Ribbons or tinsel?
“Tinsel on the tree.” – Pat Knoop
“Neither tinsel or ribbon. My entire tree is different gingerbread ornaments. I add several new ones each year. I finish the tree with about a dozen red balls.” – Connie Foster
“Tinsel growing up. I never understood the idea of garland on the tree.” – Melissa Stephens
Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
“Eve, except stockings.” – Jane Deterding
“Christmas Eve.” – Valerie Ledesma
“Christmas Eve is Mass for everyone. We go to my daughter’s house to watch my granddaughter open gifts on Christmas morning. In the afternoon we go to my sister’s for a white-elephant gift exchange with all of the adults and young adults. We have the big family Christmas dinner and gift exchange on the 26th. Then we don’t have to compete with everyone’s in-laws.” – Connie Foster
“Both, one at midnight, the rest is after church on Christmas Day. P.S. I may be old , but I still do stockings, with filled with laughs, food and curiosities!” (Narrator’s note: Along with other members of her church, Beth Landrum filled a stocking for one of 25 Burmese refugees newly located to Wichita, full of thoughtful gifts: tea from the Spice Merchant that is from the area of their homeland, warm slippers “because they’re not used to the cold here,” a flashlight, a calculator, a tape measure, and a calendar with scenic photos from around the United States.) – Beth Landrum
“One package (your choice) on Christmas Eve; everything else on Christmas morning.” – Pat Knoop
Snowy or balmy?
“Snowy. For all the good that gets me!” – Jane Deterding
“Snowy! ( I’m dreaming of a white Christmas ... )” – Valerie Ledesma
“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” – Melissa Stephens
“Soft, white, fluffy snow – it’s just so pretty!” – Pat Knoop
Bing Crosby or Mariah Carey?
(Bing! I can watch every Bing Christmas movie three times (during the holidays).” – Jane Deterding
“Bing all the way!” –Valerie Ledesma
“Mariah Carey.” – Melissa Stephens
“Neither. The Trans-Siberian orchestra playing Christmas carols, or any of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums.” – Pat Knoop
Fudge or fruitcake?
“Sugar cookies. When Grandma was alive, she made the bourbon-drenched fruit cake, but you have to start before Thanksgiving! Who has that kind of time?!” – Jane Deterding
“My (late) mother-in law’s fudge! Keeps family with us.” – Beth Landrum
“Both! Easily accessible for whichever taste you choose. Oh, and put an end to those tired fruitcake jokes by getting a fruitcake from the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas – it will change your mind forever about this grand old tradition.” – Pat Knoop
Narrator’s note: Please see accompanying recipes for a traditional fudge and a twist on fruitcake. Merry Christmas!