Author: Linda O'Dell
Growing up, we celebrated Christmas in July every summer at Green Lake, Wisconsin. All four of us kids would pile into the back of the blue family station wagon, and head to our grandparents house--so excited for two weeks of nonstop fun.
I remember not so patiently waiting to turn onto the road where the trees made a tunnel as they arched over the street. A Green Giant processing facility was at the corner, and fresh peas were always strewn on the ground – jostled off the arriving trucks. We were almost there. One last turn down the tiny winding road.
Nana and Dada Snitz greeted us with hugs and “I have missed yous.” Leading us single file to the front of the house, we were given our first peak at our Christmas in July tree. An evergreen tree growing near the porch was always decorated with Christmas lights. It felt magical to behold. Our job, over the two weeks, would be to make edible tree ornaments for the birds (and Christmas cookies for us) to eat. On any given night, I remember an endless stream of wooden boats slowly idling long into the night, all enjoying the Christmas tree brilliantly lit in July.
Time at our grandparents meant just plain fun. We went swimming in the lake, sat on the end of the pier with our cousins and fished with bamboo poles for sunfish. A badminton net was set up outside the back porch with a game going non-stop. We hunted for wild asparagus in the forest behind the house, and proudly brought our findings to Nana for dinner. At night, we played Royal Rummy in the dining room, until whisked off to bed. Sometimes, we had slumber parties with our cousins, and talked all night.
On the day we were leaving, we would celebrate Christmas in July. The year before we had each written our name on a scrap of paper, folded it, then placed it in a bowl. Passing it around the room, we each drew a name. We had a year to think of a simple gift for the person whose name was on the paper. It was a secret. We could make something, or give something we had, or save our allowance to buy a small simple gift…something to open on Christmas…in July.
On the last day, gifts were exchanged, and breakfast was enjoyed. Then off we went-- piled back in the family station wagon, carrying with us all the memories of our time with our grandparents. This was the gift, and I still hold the gift of these memories close to my heart.
Each of us has a special memory of a childhood event, one that feels like time stopped, and something magical happened. Christmas in July was like this for me, and that was 50+ years ago. When I close my eyes and remember, It feels like we just arrived at Green Lake, turning down the small windy path, like it was yesterday.
Start celebrating Christmas in July and buy the Jammie Claus book to bring a little magic into your house this summer.
This year, we invite you to join Jammie and Santa Claus by lighting a Christmas tree this year to spread Christmas joy this July. You can string lights on a tree in the front yard. Or, unwrap your tree from the basement or attic and set it in the front window or on your balcony for all to see! Then, as we did as children at Green Lake, enjoy the wonder and joy created for all those who pass by.