Christmas at Lea’s House

I’m Lea Wait, and for many years I had (among other collections) many, many Santa Clauses. Since Christmas was, and still is, my very favorite time of year, my daughters and I would start decorating on the Saturday or Sunday after Thanksgiving. The Santas would be unpacked to appear on the mantel, on table tops, and on walls.DSC01942

When my family was growing up we always had two Christmas trees — one large, real, one that would go up and be decorated a day or two before Christmas, and one small tree, hung with small ornaments, that was artificial, and would go up when the Santas did.

In those days each year I hosted a large party (150-200 people) on the first Sunday in December for single adoptive parents, their children, and prospective single parents. (The first prospective single dad who arrived received the honor of being ushered upstairs to don the Santa suit I had waiting. Many years later I ran into a woman who’d been one of my young guests. She told me that for years she’d believed Santa lived at my house!) The adoptive parent party would be followed by a luncheon (yes, catered) for those in my department at AT&T, and finally, by a special

1930s Coca Cola Advertising Santa

1930s Coca Cola Advertising Santa

Christmas Eve party for family and close friends. (Catered by me.)

Today, instead of hosting family and extended family and friends, I spend Christmas with my husband, who, I’ll admit, is a bit of a Grinch. No, the holidays aren’t the same. Although I love being with him, I do miss the excitement and joy of past Christmases.

I’ve even divested some of the Santas, although some that are left I’ve pictured here. I also still have that small artificial tree (it actually was – 45 years ago – the top of an artificial tree I used as a prop in a Christmas safety film I produced) I first hung in my single-gal apartment in Greenwich Village.  And I still hang stockings on the mantelpiece, treasure every Christmas card that comes to remind me of family and friends not in Maine, and plan special food for the holidays.

Tinsel Painting done by my mother

Tinsel Painting done by my mother

Life changes. But I still love Christmas, even toned down. I look for gifts for children and grandchildren all year, and love wrapping them up and sending them, imagining how they’ll be received. I love the special food we have Christmas morning (filet mignon and mushrooms and champagne). I love Christmas carols and sappy Christmas movies and the Christmas cards and packages that arrive at our door, reminding us of loved ones celebrating in other places.

I loved writing my latest Shadows mystery (Shadows on a Maine Christmas) because it felt as though I was celebrating with Maggie and Will and Aunt Nettie. (I even gave them my special Christmas breakfast.)

And, now that I’m a writer, I also have the joy of knowing that, through my books, I’ll be under many Christmas trees this year.

I still love Christmas! May you and your loved ones have a special one, full of memories in the making.  DSC01948

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8 Responses to Christmas at Lea’s House

  1. Heidi Wilson says:

    Lea, this brought back such memories! My childhood Christmases were just such exciting festivals as you gave your kids. Like you, we had a traditional Christmas breakfast, but unhappily it was oyster stew, home made by my father. And before I could open a single present I had to eat at least (and at most!) one slimy, fishy, squishy-bellied, tin-tasting oyster. I’m sure it scarred me for life. Also like you, I have a Significant Other who doesn’t care for Christmas, but I keep up the traditions.

    Merry Christmas to you all!

    Heidi Wilson
    Orford, NH

  2. Jewel Hanley says:


  3. Linda Lord says:

    Lovely, Lea. Merry Christmas to you!

  4. Lea Wait says:

    Thank you, Jewel!

  5. Edith says:

    I don’t know what I’m going to do this year. We are suddenly without a mantel (it was a fake over a never-functioning fireplace and my resident renovator got rid of it). Where will I put the creche? The stockings? The nutcracker collection? I’ll figure something out, just as you have.

  6. Ruth Nixon says:

    Nice hearing from you and the changes in how you celebrate Christmas. Mine has always been at my house since 1952 except dinner at my moms in 1954 as my aunt was dying and my very little son was very special to her. My aunt had my uncle get the most expense tree I’ve seen and under it a big Royce trike, a big red wagon full of presents.. My mom tried to tell my aunt no that Stephen was to young but it happened. My son never remembered except thru photos but I remember it. Now days my only grandkids live with me and their mom does all the hard work but what fun. Always love your early meal and maybe someday we will try it as we love steak. Happy Holidays to you and Bob.

  7. Lea Wait says:

    Loving all the comments and your stories of family Christmases! Such a special time of year … and so many ways to celebrate! Yes, it’s the love and family that are most important .. but the details of how we celebrate help define who we all are! Merry Christmas to everyone!

  8. Barb Ross says:

    Merry Christmas!

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