Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From the archives: "Things my father shared with me: a bit of Christmas magic on Madison's East Side"

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.

1 comment:

dougstrand said...

Nadine,
Yes, I think that there is some real Christmas magic in this house. Since I have a super duper color printer, I printed out your picture of it back in 2006 and hung it in my office ALL YEAR ROUND ever since (except for a few short periods when I had to take several things down for inspection). It hangs there still (Dickens)! I think that this house was made for color printers or color printers were made for it! Do you know who lives there, Nadine, and how many people it takes to put it all together every year?
I hope that you had a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS, NADINE, and the same to everyone of the CENTRAL CLASS OF 1965!! East is a ^%#*&, West is a %^&*, GOOD OLD CENTRAL IS THE BEST!!!