published Monday, December 10th, 2012

Grand Thoughts: Going a little Christmas crazy builds traditions, memories

MEMORY SHARING

Please share with our readers some of the Christmas traditions you've established with your grandchildren. Send your thoughts to Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress for possible publication in her Grand Thoughts column on Dec. 24.

Just call me Clark Griswold.

Like the character portrayed by Chevy Chase in one of my favorite movies, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," I go crazy at Christmas. Everywhere you look inside my house, you'll see Christmas.

Outside, I have lights on trees, shrubs, the porch and deck railing. There's electric candles in every window, wreaths on doors and windows and my signature decorating skills are heavily displayed on Tilleigh Evie Boulevard.

Named in honor of my granddaughters, Tilleigh, 5, and Evie, 2, the boulevard is a well-worn circular path through a semi-wooded area that connects their home to ours. It's where I do my best Griswold-like decorating.

And it's super tacky.

The girls love it and, it turns out, so do we and everyone else who visits our homes. Thankfully, it's not visible to our neighbors.

Though I am not an artist, I designed and handpainted large wooden cutouts of gingerbread men and women, snowmen, huge ornaments (about two feet in diameter) and small ornaments (about 10 inches in diameter), each of which is displayed along the 60-yard-long path. The names of each family member and my granddaughters' closest friends are painted on the ornaments. Hundreds of white and colored lights decorate the path, making it magical for my little girls.

We have two inflatables (I want more) alongside Tilleigh Evie Boulevard -- an 8-foot-tall snowman and 12-foot-tall Santa Claus -- and a couple dozen 3-foot-tall candy canes, a Tilleigh Evie Boulevard road sign, a red and green mailbox and more.

Last week, the girls and I decided to have a Christmas parade before Christmas Day. Tilleigh is going to twirl her baton, Evie's going to march, I'm going walk the dogs and if their new cousin, William, can come, the girls want him to be baby Jesus and ride in the mobile manger, their red wagon.

We haven't yet decided what everyone else will do, though I'm confident their grandfather, Boo, will portray Santa Claus. (He's been growing his now-white beard since early October.)

I've got many wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood (my late father was also a lot like Clark Griswold. My mom supported our enthusiasm and still does), and I want to help create equally good memories for my grandchildren.

So far, so good.

Besides, it's fun. The girls love and appreciate every detail, and I've got a feeling that Tilleigh Evie Boulevard will always be one of their favorite streets, especially at Christmas.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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