For years now I have passed by a house that intrigues me. When I was younger and in high school, this house was in route to my school. Each holiday, my Mom and I would look forward to looking at this beautiful house. Whoever lives in it, decorates their front bay window for every season!
My Mom and I have made-up many different scenarios in our heads about why the people who live in this charming house decorate as they do? "Perhaps the lady is a teacher, and she wants to spread joy to all of the little children who pass by" I said.
"Maybe she is an Interior Decorator who loves life" my mother would say.
Now that I am grown, this charming house is on the way to my new house. We make a point to always drive by to check-out the festive window. Robbie loves it and looks forward to this little ritual as well.
This past week, (on the way home from my doctor appointment) Rich, Robbie, my Mom and I stopped by my new house to go over some bathroom plans with the tile man. On the way home, Robbie shouted, "let's go by the pretty window house!". I happened to have my camera with me ( which is no surprise, because I use it so often that this camera has become an extension of me... almost like a third arm. ha ha). I mustered up the nerve and I asked my Mom to stop the car. I boldly exclaimed, that today was the day I was going to stop and find out the true story behind this beautifully decorated window. As soon as my Mom pulled the car over, I lost my courage ... just a little, "You go Mom, I'm too big and pregnant to walk-up the steps. They will think I am crazy". Mom pulled the car over and said, "let's go"... we walked up to the door. Robbie ran ahead and rang the bell as I slowly waddled like an over plumped duck, making my way to the door.
A very kind woman answered the door. " Hello, my name is Sarah and I don't mean to bother you, but I have passed by your house for years and your beautiful front window decorations have always intrigued me." I explained... "
... "You will never know how much joy and excitement your decorations bring to others who pass by." My Mom said. The lady told us her name is Barbara and her husband, who was standing in the entryway is named Clay. Barbara was adorable and Clay was ever so charming. Barbara went on to explain that she loves to decorate and it brings her joy! Apparently , we weren't the only passerby-ers to have stopped and paid a compliment to their window. Many others get great joy from this window as well, as the house is on a main boulevard in town.
It was so exciting for my little guy to experience the change in Barbara's window this week from snowmen to big, beautiful red Valentine hearts with lights and scenery! I am sure there are thousands more who pass-by Barbara and Clay's home, and their window each week! They will never know how comforting, warm, inviting and joyful their window is!
Thank you Barbara and Clay!
So there it is, mystery solved and I have made two new friends. Each time we pass by the happy house, we will shout a hello to Barbara and Clay and their two adorable doggies! :)
Because we will be approaching Valentine's Day soon, I have decided to write about different kinds of love. My mom and I caught Robbie's sick bug last week and we have been sitting around talking with each other. Robbie keeps wanting to make Valentines. Gi Gi told Robbie how she really enjoyed decorating her house for the holidays and for special occasions when I was a child. Gi Gi was a wedding coordinator for many years, and sometimes, she allowed me to help her. I think decorating is just in our blood!
Robbie asked Gi Gi why she likes to decorate and she told us this story:
By: Robin Sieverling
I once worked as a cashier in a hospital cafeteria. I met some very fun and interesting people there. There was one person in particular, who will never escape my memory. Her name was Marjorie. I called her "Marjorie Marmalade." Marjorie was about sixty some odd years old at that time. She was very large and could hardly walk. She spoke as if she might have come from North Dakota.
Marjorie always had her hair done nicely. Her uniform was always so neat and clean, and she was forever cracking jokes. I found her to be very young at heart! This hard working woman worked from 5:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every day. She prepared everything for the breakfast crowd who were mostly physicians and nurses. Her job may have sounded menial, yet, she made it important. She performed it with precision, pride and punctuality!
Marjorie was always smiling and she was very good-natured. She made sure "her" doctors had fresh prunes, oatmeal, juice, coffee and toast each morning. Marjorie would set the condiments all in the same order, and she was really generous. Instead of giving just one jam with each order of toast, she would offer two or three! I was skinny at this time in my life, and Marjorie saw to it that I had double portions of everything!
We all worked in the basement; the lower social end of the totem pole of life. It was there, in that hospital basement that I learned so very much about the "public" Most of the cafeteria employees were practical, thrifty, and very hard working. They had their own little world. The "public" were not very kind, most of the time they were demanding and curt, or unsociable and hurried. The cafeteria workers tried to always please and they understood the heavy responsibilities of the people they served.
Marjorie had a boyfriend who would often times pick her up from work. She lived with her mother, and I think she really welcomed her little dates away from home. I always felt happy around Marjorie. I couldn't understand why she hadn't settled down and gotten married. She was very witty and charming, even a little risque' at times!
Our hospital had a Christmas competition each year. There were ribbons and prizes for which ever department could decorate the best. Marjorie asked me to help her decorate. We had a blast and we won! We hung 45 records from the ceiling, we turned the cafeteria into a malt shop, and we all dressed in fifties style, and played Christmas Carols from a Juke box I made out of a trash can. We wrapped all the doors in foil and tied them with huge red ribbons to look like gifts. We hung stockings with the employees names on them. We decorated a tree with huge candy canes which I crocheted in spirals. Everything was black white and red!
I asked Marjorie what her Christmas tree at home looked like. She responded, "My tree is full of ornaments and lots of lights. As a matter of fact, I don't just decorate for Christmas, I decorate all year long!" How wonderful, I thought! I told Marjorie that I didn't feel like decorating because I was sad. I didn't have children to decorate for, and my husband didn't really care. She replied, "I don't have children either. I don't live far from a school and many children walk by my house each day. I decorate for whoever walks or passes by my house on the street. People just love it and it makes my mother happy!"
During this conversation, Marjorie confided in me, that once, many years ago, she had been married. She had an "angel", she said. "I had a little girl who died and shortly after her death, I was divorced!" Marjorie proceeded to tell me how she dressed her baby girl, when she prepared her for her coffin. Her baby was about two or three years old if my memory is accurate. Marjorie's face lit up as she described her little daughter to me. "She was just perfect!" she said, "long, golden curls just like Goldilocks! She had big, blue eyes and tiny feminine features. Oh, she was the sweetest little thing!" It was then, that moment that I decided to tell Marjorie about my recent tragedy. I just knew she would understand. I told her about my own stillborn child. My little boy who didn't live. I only knew him in my womb and in my heart. She lived with her baby in her home and loved her for a few years. How could Marjorie go on, I wondered. How does she crack jokes every day? How could she seem so happy? How could Marjorie spend time decorating her big bay window for strangers, and for strangers' children? It had to be for love. Love that shares, love that heals, and love that is alive.
Presently, I have a table in my home that is always decorated. It always will be as such until I cannot do it anymore.That day when Marjorie shared her deepest sorrow with me, I went home and decorated my table. That was way over twenty years ago! I cannot tell you the joy I see on people's faces when they see my table. Life goes on, and it is only for the living. Our little angels don't need decorations. They have the real thing. The shining glory of God decorating them for eternity!
May God bless you dear, Marjorie! You inspired me. I don't even know if you are alive, but I know that your love lives. You will always be "Marjorie Marmalade" to me! Jesus must have comforted you Marjorie, to pull you through it all. I know you comforted me with your attitude and spirit.
Below are a few of the decorated tables that my Mom has put together throughout the years.
Tea Time Table
Downton Abbey Tea Party Table
Valentine's Day Table
The Powder Room Table In Bathroom
"The Lord Jesus comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble," 2nd. Cor.1:3-4
It doesn't take much to decorate. You don't need to spend tons of money on fancy decorations and lights to bring joy. This reminds me of one last story, which I will make brief. When I was in fourth grade, each child in my class was assigned a California Mission project to complete. Those of you who live in, or grew-up in California will remember this. The objective of the lesson was to take your assigned Mission, gather as much research as you could on your particular Mission and then actually build a small replica of your Mission. Most of my friends built their Missions out of expensive sugar cubes, lumber products from Home Depot, or spent good money and purchased a kit from the local craft store.
Finally, the big day was here... Our class Mission party! Each of us walked into Ms. Graber's fourth grade classroom like proud peacocks strutting our Mission project with such arrogance and excitement. Many of the parents came as well, and quite honestly, now that I am a teacher myself, I wonder who did more of the work on these Mission projects; the child or the parent? It became almost a competition between the parents.
I will never forget one particular little boy in my class; Dear Melvin Maps... thinking back, Melvin actually wasn't so little, he was the tallest kid in our class, he wasn't wealthy and came from a lower income family with lots of kids. Melvin was the most adorable little boy! He was always kind to me and came to school willing to learn.
As we were all sitting at our desks with our Missions displayed in front of us, in walks Melvin, late, but with a beaming smile on his face as he carried his Mission over to his desk. I will never forget his Mission project and even as I write this now, I have tears welling-up just thinking about it. Melvin's mother was probably overwhelmed with children and responsibilities and burdens far greater than my safe, little suburban-raised nine year old self could ever know and would ever know.
I can remember Melvin's mom was a large, kind, black woman who called him sugar. I'm sure between raising babies, working jobs and trying to keep food on the table for her family, a fourth grade California Mission Project was probably the last thing on her mind. My Mom was there that day and she walked over to Melvin to compliment him on what a creative and wonderful job he did on his Mission.
Melvin's Mission was not at all like any of the other kids'. His was made out of a side of a cardboard pizza box which he sprinkled and glued dirt on as the ground. He then took twigs, leaves, branches and rocks to form the structure of his mission building. He used pieces of shrubbery to create a landscape of small trees and scenery for his mission. " I went in my back yard for hours and found rocks and grass and twigs to make this Mrs. Sieverling." Melvin said.
To this day, I do not remember what anyone else's mission looked like, or even my own for that matter.... but I do remember Melvin's and I will never forget it!
In each of these stories, the people I have mentioned created their own joy, and in turn they blessed others with their creations and decorations... making joy for those around them!
So friends, consider the scriptures below as you start off your week.
How can you be a blessing to others by bringing JOY?
Making Joy In Your Heart