The very best in tacky (and I use this word fondly) Christmas ornaments and decorations used to come from drugstores. When I first lived on my own in the early 1980s, I’d hit the after Christmas sales at Eckerd’s and get strings of lights for 99 cents and boxes of tinsel for even less.
But my favorites were the plastic “candles” that I could put in the windows. We’d had those same type candles in the windows of the Oak Street house every Christmas for as long as I could remember. Opal, my mom, would change the bulb color depending on her color theme for the year. I seem to recall my pop and I always lobbying for multi-color, but she liked to go with all red or all blue or all white. I don’t ever remember a green theme. But I also remember the use of orange/yellow bulbs to look more like real candles.
Anyway, these plastic candles, or as I learned from a bit of research, “candoliers,” were even molded with fake drips from the rim where the light bulbs would go. The disappearance of the necessary drop cords to plug in the candles mystified my pop every year.
The plastic candoliers came in singles, sets with three, and sets of maybe five or possibly ten for bigger windows. The larger sets we owned went in the kitchen and dining area windows in the Oak Street house, because these were the windows that faced the street. Two of my bedroom windows also faced the street, and I think I had a set with three candles in one window, and maybe a single in the other window.
One of my responsibilities was go around and plug in the lights at dusk.
Because I’ve lived in apartments and condos for most of my adult life, my decorating is usually minimal. New traditions have replaced some old traditions – because of my husband’s allergies (and easier clean up), we have a fiber optic tree instead of a real tree.
Somewhere, I’ve got several sets of candoliers. I’ll get ‘em back out someday. Meanwhile, I’ll celebrate the Christmas memories.