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Seeking Lodi’s Christmas tree stories by going door to door

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Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013 7:57 am

Sometimes our editor hands us strange assignments. This week, we scoured Lodi’s streets for homes decorated with Christmas cheer to see if we could find one or two with a tree peeking out from the window. We knocked on the door and asked the family inside to tell us why their tree was special, and what hanging those ornaments meant to them. These are the stories of two kind families who let us in.

Transition to a new tradition

Chris and Denise Ellsworth, on the 800 block of Elm Street, have an artificial tree peeking out of the front window.

“Normally we have seven trees, but we just moved here eight months ago, and they aren’t up,” said Denise Ellsworth.

The family used to go to Apple Hill every year and chop down their own tree. This year, they have a fake one. But it takes only five minutes to put up, and the lights come on in white or in color.

“I go to my kid’s house to hug the real tree,” said Denise.

Her kids had a tradition of making their own ornaments every year, starting when the oldest was 3 years old. Most are still on the tree, though they look a little worse for wear. One little brown bear made of pompoms sits on a letter “S” block. Small foam Santas covered in glitter are hung in three places.

Granddaughter Cadence painted an ornament at the Mud Mill. Children have crafted ornaments out of lights, googly eyes and brown pipe cleaners to make reindeer. Grandma Diane Case has made a crocheted butterfly, and a Santa head on plastic stitch canvas.

The gaps are filled with ornaments Denise Ellsworth has dug up at garage sales. Small trains or sleds tucked away in cardboard boxes are scooped up for a few dollars and hung up at home.

While their own children are far from the ornament-making years, the grandchildren are at just the right age.

“Maybe it’s time to bring that tradition back,” said Denise Ellsworth.

A son’s return home

Matthew and Vickie Storment are preparing their home for their son’s return this week.

Matthew Storment wound a string of lights around the front porch column. A five foot tall tree with long gold ribbon and silver and white ornaments was already diplayed on the porch.

“When we bought this house nine years ago, it was the first home we’d ever had with a porch. I always thought a porch like this would look nice with a Christmas tree,” he said.

Inside, the family’s tree is not yet decorated. Vickie Storment says that’s waiting for the whole family to come home and decorate together.

Their 11 year old son is at a school in Kansas and looking forward to seeing his home turned into a winter wonderland. He also has a Star Wars themed tree in the living room.

The front porch decorations will soon be completed with lights on the eaves, more trees with lights and ornaments twinkling through the windows, and a bright red and green wreath on the front door.

“He’ll be real excited to see the house done up for Christmas,” said Storment.

Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at

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