A Glimpse of Christmas Past in the Reed Family Home
I am flooded today with memories of my grandparents’ house. As a kid, it was a magical place. It was not a huge house, a modest Sears and Roebuck craftsman-style home built in 1926. Some of my earliest memories are visits to this home as I spent a lot of time there during my childhood. While looking through my grandfathers Christmas photographs, I started making some notes about some of the arbitrary things I could remember about them. And eventually some of that turned into this blog post.
The following photos from Lewis Reed’s collection are a fabulous glimpse into Christmas inside the Reed family home at 301 North Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A lot of people assume that the traditions we follow have looked pretty much the same since their inception but, in most cases, like everything else in life, Christmas has definitely changed over the years.
The trees were big back then and always fresh. They went right to the ceiling and were very wide. Early Christmas trees were generally fastened onto a flat board surrounded with fence-rails, snow villages and carpeted with cotton blankets of snow. Lots of tinsel and strings of popcorn garnish the trees.
Below are photos of Lewis Reed’s snow village set up under the Christmas tree decorated with vintage ornaments, tinsel, and lights. I used to have a ton of fun helping my grandfather set up the miniature landscapes with the varied figures, little houses, and trees at Christmastime each year. It seemed like a holiday village right out of a storybook.
The snow villages were set up in Lewis Reed’s basement on top of a big table beneath a small Christmas tree. He made the snow scenes entirely by hand using wire-covered cardboard and balled up paper to make hills and pathways. The little houses and figurines would fit into the landscape with cotton ‘snow’ all around; and lights would be wired underneath. It was just amazing to me.
These Christmas villages were precursors of the Holiday Villages that were made popular by Dept. 56 that you see today.
Looking back on these memories now in my adult mind is like watching my favorite Christmas movie. They are memories of my grandparents house at Christmastime, and are ones I will always treasure.