Decorations light up the holiday season


Kat Sarafianos

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hristmas can be as much of hassle as it is fun. With the holiday season cheer comes having to put up lights, a tree and decorations: the whole nine yards. But there’s more to the season than just work; Christmas decorations can offer a sense of wonder and excitement to the air.
“I love to decorate because I feel like it’s part of the holidays, and honestly without a tree or anything, I don’t think I’d be able to get as excited about Christmas as I do,” senior Camille McManus said. “Christmas decorations are one of those things that get you excited as soon as you see them. They really just brighten the atmosphere and my mood.”
McManus is not alone in her love of decorating. For the past 32 years, the Women’s Symphony League has put on the Holiday Home Tour to benefit the Missouri Symphony Conservatory and their annual festival, “Hot Summer Nights.” The event entails a group tour of well-decorated Columbia homes and letting people look at the Christmas decorations inside and out.
[quote]Some might consider it a privacy issue, but we ask a lot of homeowners and get quite a bit of agreement. I think they spend a lot of time decorating their home for the Christmas holidays, and I think they like letting other people share it,” chair of the Holiday Home Tour committee Nancy Griggs said. “I know when I decorate my home for the holidays I like to have people come out. It just puts you in a festive mood. It’s just a big party.[/quote] Griggs also said seeing other decorations can positively impact people’s Christmas spirit. Many times people don’t want to decorate themselves or can’t, and seeing somebody else’s decorations can put them into the holiday spirit without having to go out and buy decorations for their own home. A prime example of this is the Magic Tree.
The Magic Tree is a tree in Cherry Hill Village that is completely covered  in Christmas lights, from the base of the trunk to the tips of the branches. Columbia resident Randy Fletcher started decorating what was then just a normal tree in his front yard in 1995 and has continued to do so for 22 years.
“I adopted the name [the Magic Tree because of] a letter left in the donation container from the mother of a family that came to see the tree every night.  She shared with me that they referred to the tree as the Magic Tree,” Fletcher said. “I continue to do the tree every year for the joy of the community. It gives me pleasure to be a part of something that apparently gives joy to many. I hope it has a soothing, healing effect on those who need it. I hope people get a sense of universality from it and belonging to it and each other, regardless of religion or politics, race, gender, age or orientation.”
Griggs believes decorating can be an event in itself. Going around homes or places with Christmas decorations can be a fun alternative to shopping and be a chance to spend time with family. Events like the Magic Tree and the Holiday Home Tour offer an enjoyable time for the entire family without having to spend a lot of money or create a lot of stress — and many Columbia residents have definitely taken advantage of that.
“I understand that many marriage proposals have taken place under the Magic Tree. I have personally witnessed several starting with one when the Magic tree was still in our front yard.  I also know of one wedding that took place under the tree at Cherry Hill,” Fletcher said. “One time there were some gymnasts or cheerleaders at the tree when it was still in front of my house and my son got a photo of a man throwing a woman in the air straight up while she did a pose. In the photo she is silhouetted by the tree.”