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McCain House exhibit in Kittanning to feature different Christmas trees

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
McCain House Museum volunteer Kathy Taylor carries garland while decorating Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the Family Trees celebration, Many trees represent a time period, while incorporating families christmas traditions. Louis B. Ruediger Leader Times

The traditional Christmas that is celebrated in America today can be as diverse as those who celebrate it.

Such variety can be seen this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a holiday exhibit of local Christmas traditions.

Since the McCain House, at 300 N. McKean St., Kittanning, is home to the Armstrong County Historical Museum and Genealogical Society, this three-day event is called “Family Trees — A Celebration of Christmas.”

At least a dozen interpretations of the family Christmas tree will be on display from noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The public is invited for free to visit during those hours.

The Christmas tree comes in many sizes and colors, both artificial and live, in this collection. Whether your idea of traditional is bubble lighting on a blue spruce or a confectioner's delight of red and white, with Victorian accents, there will be many possibilities to consider.

The mother -daughter team of Karen Wingard of East Franklin Township and Laura Wingard-Plank of Worthington were responsible for converting the house's dining room to a Christmas candy land.

“Laura loves peppermint swirls,” says mom, Karen. “She decorated most of the tree and I did most of the other decorations.” Despite a division of labor, the end result is a well-blended, wonderful mix of style, texture, and, of course, red and white. There is obvious attention to detail, as evidenced by a table complete with a peppermint tea pot.

Museum volunteers and families from different areas of Armstrong County collaborated to design and create these Christmas trees, situated in all available rooms and corridors. Various time periods, family traditions and individual decorating preferences together yield an impressive exhibit.

Location also affected the choice of design in some instances, such as in the kitchen, where the Christmas tree theme will be sure to please the man in the red suit — milk and cookies.

Information about local families and how they celebrate Christmas also will be shared. In the case of the Santa's favorite snack tree, holiday anecdotes of an Armstrong County dairy-farming family will complete the display.

The exhibits cover the full range of Christmas sentiments from quirky and fun to the more nostalgic.

Families in Armstrong County and all across our country will be remembered in the military room of the museum by another mother-daughter team. Lauren Kwiecien, a history teacher at Kittanning Senior High School, and mom, Yvonne Kwiecien, both of Ford Cliff, created a Christmas tree and display in this room. “We wanted to honor all who are or were in the military services,” Lauren says. There is also a personal connection to the display for this pair, as father and grandfather, Leroy Walters, saw action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters during WW II.

Regardless of your need for natural pine, or if you think aluminum is just fine, a visit to 300 N.McKean St. this weekend promises to help understand why you'll want to be “home for Christmas.”

Diane Orris Acerni is a correspondent for Trib Total Media.

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