A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Doug Strand, asking if the house on Upham Street was decorated for Christmas this year. Between a busy schedule and way too much snowfall in the past several weeks (more than 35" in December and there's still a week left in the month), I haven't had time to drive over to the East Side and have a look (and take a new photo). In the meantime, here's a reprint of my post from Christmas 2006 about the House on Upham Street (pictured above).
Most Christmas magic can't be captured on film or a computer chip, but sometimes an image can help to evoke a memory, or send someone else on a quest to experience the magic in person.
The above photo is of a house on the 2500 block of Upham Street on Madison's East Side. My father introduced me to this glowing work of art, so I know it's been a part of my Christmas celebration for more than a decade. The first time I saw this house, my father was my guide, the man behind the wheel who wanted to share his discovery. When he could no longer drive, I drove and we continued to enjoy this extravaganza together every year. After he died, driving past the house on Upham Street became an annual ritual, a way to remember my father, a way to be with him in spirit during the Christmas season.
Some years I've been able to introduce friends to the house on Upham Street, sharing a bit of one of my Christmas traditions with them. But even when everyone else was too busy to go for a ride, I've made a trip across town to make certain the Christmas lights were still aglow.
And as often as possible, I try to park a block or so away from the house on Upham Street, and take a walk to see what can't be shown in a single photo. What really makes the decorations on this house special is that the lights cover and illuminate the entire house: front, back, sides, and backyard. I've peeked around corners and craned my neck to catch a glimpse of as many lights as possible, but ever the obedient daughter, I follow my father's instructions and stay on the sidewalk: I don't go too close, I don't trespass, I don't ring the doorbell. I don't want to break the spell. I want the magic to endure year after year after year.
Note: You may also find fellow alumnus Madison Guy's blog post, "Helping the University Avenue Holiday Lights become a permanent institution," worth a visit. And while you're there, check out his extraordinarily beautiful photograph looking down State Street from the steps of the State Capitol.
Doster Robert "Doc" De Haven - Class of 1949 - MADISON - Blow, Gabriel Blow. Beloved father, musician, and teacher, Doster Robert "Doc" De Haven Jr. [age 85], passed to heaven on Friday, Aug. 12, 201...
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