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Senior Correspondent

When I was a PK (preacher's kid) we moved frequently as preachers' families often do. One of my jobs was to open and later repack Christmas decorations — the easily broken kinds, of course. As I grew older I resolved that things would be different when I was in charge. But it didn't exactly work out that way.

Shortly after my marriage I accepted my bride's challenge to make really big displays of sleighs, Santas, carolers and reindeers from patterns she had seen in a magazine. I sketched the designs on quarter-inch waterproof plywood, cut them out and let her express her artistic talent by painting them.

The first creation was the sleigh when we lived in Dayton, Ohio, in 1953. Then when we moved to California I made Santa. Then, on to Germany, which brought forth the choir kids; then France when Rudolph showed up. Back to Virginia for a hitch at the Pentagon and the addition of more wonderful decorations — thanks to my artistic brother-in-law. After 10 years there, back to Dayton. Now we had three kids who added lots of stuffed animals, gift boxes, etc.

By this time we had accumulated a lot of Christmas decorations and moving all of this stuff became a real problem. Each move we made we had a bigger load than the last. Now all these moves were made while I was in the Air Force. With each transfer I had to move more weight than Uncle Sam was willing to pay for. So I had to pay to move our treasures.

Finally we retired and lived many years in the same house in Phoenix. Although I still had the chore of setting up our stuff in time for Christmas and then taking it down and storing it for another year, I no longer had the expense of paying to have it moved from place to place.

Then a few years ago we moved to the Beatitudes, and I found the perfect solution. Now the decorations are stored in the basement of South Plaza, and each year the good men of the Maintenance Department dust them off and place them on campus.

They've never looked better.

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