Log In   ·   Become A Member

Sixty-Something: The Magic Of Outdoor Christmas Lights

T.J. Clemente

While I'm decorating outside I flashback to my dad, to my years with my children and finally how much I still love coming home to our house all lit up for Christmas. (Photo courtesy of the author)

My very first memory of Christmas lights was watching my dad on a huge ladder 30 feet in the air attaching round blue Christmas lights to the roof of our three story two family home in the late 1950's. I was 4-years-old about to turn 5 just before Christmas. I watched in total amazement, now looking back that was quite a feat and he did it all by himself. Three years later we moved to Pelham Manor, N.Y. to a home he eventually passed away 39 wonderful years later. He died with his complete family of 22 around him.

I don't remember when it became my chore to decorate the front of that house with lights but I know I never did it the same way twice. It also was never precise like dad did. I never had his gift of precision. My mom would look it and say, "Next time don't rush." Too many times it seemed to get real cold as I did it.

My first family home after moving out of dad's place was a luxury high-rise condo (47 floors) building on the Hudson River, but in New Jersey. Quite frankly I bought it because every night looking at New York City seemed like Christmas with all the buildings twinkling and the multi colored Empire State Building dominating the night sky. I remember hanging Christmas lights around the inside of the huge and tall windows that faced the city. It was a thrill for me to be driving on the West Side Drive, in New York City and look across at the huge condo building complex and easily spot my apartment due to our Christmas lights.

Eventually because of school issues I moved back to Pelham not more than one mile from where I grew up. My daughters where then 3 and 5-years-old and they watched me hang the Christmas lights around our new home just like I watched my dad. Sadly it never measured up to the precise job he did, but the end result still said Christmas. For whatever reason it seemed I had to buy new lights every year so no two years were exactly the same.

Around fourteen years ago I was assigned to write a story about those wonderful but crazy homes with the unbelievable Christmas light displays. I was made aware of a home in Southampton that belonged to Mr. Bill Frankenbach of Southampton on the corner of Elm and Post Crossing. He has since passed away. This gentleman made his living selling Christmas trees, ornaments and lights! After he retired, for the sake of his grandchildren, he added a new section of Christmas light decorations to his home every Christmas season. Since Bill lived a very long life post retirement his outdoor home Christmas light display was worthy of a Disney special. He claimed the home display had over 10,000 lights with numerous Santa's ! When I interviewed Bill, he told me he loved to watch the cars come up to his house and "watch the children get out of the car just marveling at all the Christmas lights and decorations." Mrs. Frankenbach said, "Hearing the young voices brought them great joy." She also mentioned she thought Bill was "nuts because of the huge electric bill," but she also told me she understood how important it was to him.

Now I am sixty-something and my children live many hundreds of miles away. I live in East Patchoque, with my wife Cindi, and I still put up the lights every Christmas. Perhaps I do it in memory of every Christmas I ever had. While I'm decorating outside I flashback to my dad, to my years with my children and finally how much I still love coming home to our house all lit up for Christmas.




Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)
 

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
Location:*
Comments:*
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
Question:*
What color is a banana?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
 
 
East End Tick Control
The East End's only New York State licensed dedicated tick and mosquito control specialists!

Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

New York Title Abstract Services, Inc.
We are a title insurance services company dedicated to promptly delivering fully compliant and accurate reports, and title insurance, for residential and commercial real estate throughout New York State. Headquartered in the Hamptons, our professional team has extensive real estate experience and understands the business from all sides including title insurance, legal, sales, governmental, banking, and lending regulations.

Aimee Fitzpatrick Martin, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Considered a West of the Shinnecock Canal expert with a 5-star Zillow ranking, Aimee specializes in the luxury and waterfront markets in Quogue, Westhampton Beach, Remsenburg, East Quogue and Hampton Bays. With exceptional communication skills and a buttoned-up approach to every deal, she is highly skilled in the art of the negotiation process. Understanding the nuances of buying and selling waterfront homes, especially on Dune Road, is a specialty.

Hamilton Hoge
As the owner’s representative our practice encompasses all aspects of a project from pre-purchase property due diligence, program development iterations, advisement on systems, analyze contracts/vendors, critical path analysis, feasibility and schedule. The strength of our approach is in facilitating organized communication. We strongly analyze all representations and warranties for the protection and benefit of our client.

Citarella
The Citarella Standard. We’re passionate about sourcing and selling the world’s best seafood. When you order our fresh seafood online, what you receive always reflects the unrivaled standard of our markets. It’s hand-prepared, never frozen, and shipped overnight. 631-283-6600.