By Robert Lucke
Rev. Kenn and Carol Green know how to keep Christmas well. Granted, the job has a good start just living in the Presbyterian Manse at 711 Fourth Avenue. The Manse is a Christmas card of what a house should be, especially at Christmas.
And this time of year, every room is just bedecked with reminders of Christmas past, family and friends.
"We have been decorating since the second year we were married," said Carol. "My mother used to decorate a lot. I thought it would look like that at our house, so Kenn went out and bought a tree and all blue lights and blue balls and strung them on the tree. Blue balls and lights are still a joke with us, and we still have some blue balls on the tree just to remind us of that first Christmas."
"So we decorate," continued Carol. "We add to the collection. We have been married 33 years and we have tried to buy a nativity or an ornament each year. All are special for Kenn and me. When we bring them out of the box, they all remind us of something."
That tradition has been passed on to their children. Their boy, just married this summer, is having first year ups and downs. His older brother advised him to go downtown, purchase the biggest tree he could find, have a "green" Christmas, and show that woman how committed you are.
"I think that traditions are very important for the family," said Carol. Kenn thinks that way too. It gives the family something to hold to. Our children are all married now, but still they will call and ask us something about our traditions that they remember."
Greens are always looking for something else to make the season even better.
"Year before last we started something," related Carol. "We read a short Christmas story out loud. Then we signed our name in the book and passed it on to another family to read out loud and they passed it on too. So far, 24 people have read the story and passed it on. We like to do things like that."
Then there was the year that the Greens got a Bear Paw tree and decorated it on Christmas Eve.
"We went out and waded in snow up to our waists. I spotted a good tree and stood by it until my boys looked and decided mine was pretty good," said Kenn, laughing. "We took it home and that year I had wanted some bubble lights. We had found two strands and put them on the tree. Well, Carol and I got into an argument about those lights. There were only 18 of them on the whole tree. Finally, the boys told us to go out and take a walk and when we got back in, other lights were on the tree and the bubble lights were strung on and all around our old brass bed."
"In the clergy you learn not to leave cutting down and decorating the tree until Christmas Eve," added Carol. "I can't wait for us to be together and be one big family and Kenn has to go to church."
To make the season even more special and meaningful, the Greens have collected nativity scenes from all over the world. Most are displayed in the rooms of their house. Like everything else, each reminds of something good.
Like everyone else, Greens have had their share of Christmas disasters.
"One year we put up the tree and decorated it and then had to go to a meeting in Great Falls. Our daughter was here and had some of her friends in and when we got back, I immediately went over to the tree and looked at it and said to Kenn that there was something different about that tree," said Carol, laughing. "Then Kenn looked out the front window and saw a tree laying on our lawn. It seemed that the tree we decorated had fallen over and our daughter and her friends could not get it back into the stand, so they went downtown and bought one and made the seller put it into a stand for them. Then brought it home and decorated it."
Didn't matter. A mother can always tell.
And the Green's house just shouts out the reason for the season from every nook and cranny.
"All these things are here for a reason," said Carol. "It is the thread that ties all of us together. Think of them as icons of our friends and the people we love."
Carol Green has a small baby Jesus in his crib on her kitchen stove.
"I keep that here so that when I am cooking holiday meals, I can remember the real reason for the season," said Carol, smiling once again.
One look into the Greens' faces reminds us of the reason for the season as well.