For twenty five years it has been a part of our Christmas. Perched upon our roof shining down on the community below is the Star of Chase River.
Created in our back yard by my husband and an old neighbour and constructed from steel rebar, a little welding and a bottle of whiskey, it is a simple snowflake type star illuminated with bright clear lights. It Stand almost 4 metres high (12 feet) and it’s base is a one metre (3ft) wide log round with a hole drilled in the centre for support. It is then secured to the four sides of the house with ropes and eye bolts.
For the first couple of years my husband would lay it down on top of the roof after Christmas so it would not be noticeable from the street but after a few storms where we could hear it chatter and bounce as the wind caught underneath it he decided that it was actually safer to keep it standing and tightly roped. Now the wind just blows through it.
Each year just before December first, he climbs up on the roof and replaces any bulbs that didn’t make it through the year all the while praying that the top two bulbs are okay. Two men are required to change those two because the star is so high it has to be layed down to get the job done. This year my husband was not so lucky. you may notice in the picture that the second from the top bulb is out, he did not have time or help this year to change it before he went out of town to work.
If you know it’s there, you can see it a kilometre away but you won’t miss it once you turn off the highway and enter into the neighbourhood of Chase River as it sparkles straight ahead of you. It stays lit from December 1st until January 1st and stays on throughout the night of December 24th as a marker to make sure Santa finds the children of Chase River.
Six years ago the star was brought down so the roof could be replaced. Soon after my husband and son were in a car accident so it looked like the Star of Chase River might miss a year. One of the neighbourhood girls, who baby sat my kids while growing up and is now married with her own children called asking why the star was not lit. It seemed her son who was probably around seven or eight at the time said it wasn’t Christmas until the Star of Chase River was up. He didn’t even live in the neighbourhood but both sets of his grandparents lived across the street from us and he had grown up seeing it. Not wanting to disappoint the lad, my husband and son dragged their bruised and battered bodies up on the roof to get the star back where it belonged. The tradition was able to continue.
The reason that I am writing about our Christmas star is because today, one of my son’s friends posted on Facebook, “Your parents star is lit! It’s Christmas! I love that Star!”
It is so heartwarming to be a small part of other people’s Christmas traditions. Others who “liked” the Facebook post where from kids, now adults, who grew up in our neighbourhood, some with children of their own now. How many times over the years have folks, driving home from work, shopping or other festivities looked up and saw that simple beacon welcoming them during the Christmas season. There is comfort in the familiar.
So to my son’s friend who made the Facebook comment, Thanks for brightening my day. To all the residents of Chase River past and present, and to those who for what ever reason wish they could, but can’t make it for Christmas, know that the at least one tradition will be here to light your way the next time you turn off the highway on to Extension Rd. on your way back home. Merry Christmas.