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A Tradition Of Passing Down Decorations From One Family To Another

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Holiday home decorations can be store-bought or homemade, handed down in a family from generation to generation. But what about from one homeowner to another?

ALISON LAPOINTE: When we were walking through the house for the inspection...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Alison LaPointe and her husband moved to their new house in Washington, D.C., two years ago.

LAPOINTE: My husband found this wooden structure under the stairs. And he asked the prior owner what it was. And he said, well, that's the star of Worthington.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The star of Worthington - named after the street the house is on. It's made out of wood, and it's big.

LAPOINTE: It's a little bit taller than me, so it's probably about six feet tall. It's wide - probably about five feet wide. And it's built to look like a shooting star. And you wrap white holiday lights around it. And at nighttime, you plug it in. And it looks really cool from the street.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Sure sounds like it - it's been displayed on Worthington Street for about 18 years. The previous owner thought about taking it with them.

LAPOINTE: But he said if you promise to put it up, we'll leave it with you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The LaPointes kept their promise.

LAPOINTE: And immediately, people started stopping to talk to us. They take pictures of themselves in front of it. But, really, the main thing that they say is that it has marked the beginning of the holiday season for a lot of people in our neighborhood when that star goes up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: For another homeowner, like Nancy Winchester of Virginia, the holiday decoration that came with her new house was, let's just say, less magical.

NANCY WINCHESTER: When I was doing the walkthrough on the house, I noticed an eight-foot-long PVC candy cane hanging in the garage. I mentioned to the former owners that they had left something behind. And they, with a little glint in their eyes, said, no, that belongs to the house.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's when Winchester learned that every Christmas holiday, her entire neighborhood puts up the same decoration. Winchester reluctantly put hers up, too.

WINCHESTER: I did it just to fit in. It was a little garish. It was, really, just to be a good member of the community. But I happily passed that candy cane on to the next owners when I moved away five years later.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So the next time you pass a house decked in holiday cheer, you might be seeing a neighborhood tradition on full display - neighbor willing or not.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOLANGE SONG, "DANCING IN THE DARK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro
Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.