Christmas 2012: A tree per room for the McLellan family
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Long-time Huron East Councillor Alvin McLellan shared his family’s Christmas story with The Citizen’s editor Shawn Loughlin in 2012.
To learn more about Christmas traditions at Huron East Councillor Alvin McLellan’s house, you don’t have to do much more than stop by for a visit.
While Alvin takes a bit of a backseat in the Christmas decorating, at least on the inside of the house, his wife Pam has made it her goal to make sure every inch of their home is decorated and ready for Christmas Day.
In addition to scores of Christmas decorations such as teddy bears, spread around the house, Pam has ensured that there is a Christmas tree in every room of the house, even including her quilting workshop, which is attached to Alvin’s garage.
Decorating for the holidays, however, begins right after Halloween with the snowmen. Pam puts all kinds of snowmen up around the house and they remain up until spring.
“We have little trees everywhere, there is one in every room of the house,” Alvin said, “and each one has a theme.”
He says that one tree will be decorated with ornaments that have been made by his and Pam’s three children, Sarah, Melissa and Alvin Jr., over the years, while another will be adorned with Santa Claus ornaments.
Alvin likens his job in the world of Christmas decorating to that of Chevy Chase in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Alvin says he is, and always has been, in charge of “exterior illumination”.
The McLellans’ house is often elaborately decorated outdoors, as well as in, when the holiday season approaches, so he admits this is no small job either.
He admits though that over the years he has been an “enabler” for Pam’s love of Christmas decorating, buying her decorations.
The McLellans, whose children have all moved out of the home, do their best to host a family dinner on Boxing Day every year, but with recently becoming grandparents and with work commitments, keeping that tradition alive hasn’t always been easy.
Alvin and Pam say they understand about family commitments, so while their door is always open to their family, they know that there is plenty to do and they take the family interaction wherever they can get it.
Alvin says when the children were small there was a lot of travelling involved and by the time Christmas was over, they had visited several sets of grandparents and other family members and everyone was ready to turn in for the night.
Looking back now they can appreciate the relaxation that can come with Christmas and spending time with their immediate family around the Christmas tree, rather than dashing from one household to the other all day.
When Alvin was younger, he said he remembers not having stockings, but that small gifts would be piled at the family’s dinner table. The gifts would be placed at their intended recipient’s place setting at the table.
Presents at the dinner table were usually things like socks or underwear or mittens, Alvin says, and then other presents were always found under the Christmas tree, in a more traditional manner.
Alvin’s grandparents lived in Brussels and would come over for the day on Christmas Day when he was young.
Pam also spent Christmas Day with her grandparents when she was younger. She said that while it was always a busy time around the house, it was always a fun time as well.
When it comes to gift-giving now, one other tradition that may be linked to their Scottish heritage, they joke, is wrapping presents in newspaper. The pair has always done it this way and this year already there were several presents sitting under the tree, wrapped in newspaper waiting for someone to open them.