The Washington Post

By Paula Matuskey, 66, Ellicott City, retired administrator (higher education)

My father loved Christmas. I vividly recall his light displays outside our house, not the 1,000-light extravaganzas we see today but, rather, red spotlights focused on the front of the house. There was also a 15-inch wooden star that he crafted using a simple saw and glue. It was covered in tinfoil, with lights on the back, so that when it was lighted, a silhouette appeared against the house’s brick front. The lights behind the stars were red. Each year brought subtle variations, but the concept was the same.

(Nathaniel Grann/TWP)

One November day, I visited my parents as Dad went through his annual ritual of checking out his lights. I was perplexed when he asked my mother for her red nail polish. Next thing I knew, he was hand-painting all of his miniature lights to achieve a “consistent red color.”

After he died, I found on his workbench a medicine bottle with the label ripped off. It was filled with red lights and small green sockets. Now when I see that bottle, I remember Dad, whose lights and whose joy made Christmas special for us.

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.