After we moved to Marshall, our family started - or revisited - a holiday tradition.
Each year we would get into the van and drive around town looking at the Christmas lights and decorations. Once we had checked out all of the "recommended" sites -- the Mission and Rosehill neighborhoods, East Arrow, East North and Eastwood streets, and the neighborhood east of Lincoln between Mitchell and Watermill Road - even toured the back streets and lesser known areas of town for surprise displays, we would end up at the Marshall Habilitation Center.
What a marvelous, magical holiday world awaited the kids as we drove through the main entrance to the property. Christmas Village, the Three Wise Men, the cast of characters from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," elves working in Santa's workshop, scenes reminiscent of a Courier and Ives illustration, a nativity scene (for a while), and so much more. The kids were always fascinated, even when seeing the displays for the ump-teenth time.
The annual tours around Marshall reminded me of years ago, back in the old neighborhood of Northeast Kansas City.
Each year, our family would pile into the old Chevy station wagon and dad would drive around the neighborhoods so we could admire the Christmas lights and other displays. And we all had our favorites.
We would usually start by driving west on Lexington to Garfield, turning right to make our way over to the "castle" house on Pendleton. From there, we'd make our way up around the reservoir and back over to Lexington, crossing the bridge over Chestnut Trafficway and making our way up around the Concourse with its holiday decorations adding to the beauty of the season.
The Kansas City Museum was always a beautiful sight during the holidays -- both inside and out. From there, following Gladstone Blvd. around the bluff overlooking the east bottoms and down to Wheeling, we'd make the circle and head back to Van Brunt. From there, we would travel south past lots of large, wonderfully festooned homes and then down past Northeast High School.
From Independence and Van Brunt we would then make our way west on the Avenue and weave our way back and forth using Benton, Gladstone and Prospect to make our way back home. Along our way we would see so lights, Christmas trees, yard ornaments such as candy canes and bells, and more than a few illuminated Reindeer.
Back then homes had one very prominent feature you don't see a lot of these days.
I'm guessing that social media and the like has become the new "front porch" where people gather to discuss the day's events and how things are going. But I've never seen garland and tinsel woven around the banister of a cell phone, or reindeer leaping from the roof -- sleigh in tow -- of a laptop or tablet or some such electronic device. I've never seen holly and mistletoe or a large festive wreath hanging above the door of a password protected web site.
Man I miss those porches - and the reindeer.
Note: This column was typed on a modern personal computer and emailed to the publisher. I just wanted to say that before someone else did.