FAIRMONT - Nothing says Independence Day like red, white and - Santa Claus.
At least that was the theme on Friday for Joy (Rowan) Pollock of Fairmont. Her house on Stade Lane, where she lives with her husband, Lorin, was adorned with decor usually reserved for the Christmas season.
"Probably 40 years I've been doing this," Pollock said, as a steady stream of friends and relatives entered her home. "As soon as anybody sees the Christmas decorations (in July), they know who it is."
CHRISTMAS?IN?JULY?— Joy Pollock, in the blue cap, and a few members of the Rowan clan look over her memory tree at the family Christmas gathering Friday in Fairmont. (By Judy Bryan)
Pollock is one of 13 children - eight girls and five boys - of Vern and Ruby Rowan, who farmed by Granada.
"I'm in the middle. I'm the well-adjusted middle child, but some family members might say I'm maladjusted," she laughed.
A warm-weather Christmas just makes sense to Pollock, based on her past experience with the traditional yule time weather.
"It was back in the 70s. I had a Christmas party at Christmas time, and it was colder than hell. Only a few people came, and I had all this food left over," she recalled.
That's when she decided to have the traditional gathering of family and friends at a time when the weather wouldn't be a deterrent.
"But we honor the spirit of Christmas every day," Pollock said.
A plate in a row of holiday platters atop the fireplace stands as testament to her sentiment. "Honor Christmas in your heart and keep it all year long," the plate's inscription states.
And Pollock epitomizes that statement. When being introduced to people who mistake her name for Joyce or Jo, she will correct them.
"It's Joy - like 'Joy to the World,'" she said.
A four-foot Santa and Christmas pillows flank the fireplace and the adjacent tree. Pollock calls it her "memory tree" because each of the hundreds of ornaments holds a special remembrance of a family member, friend or event in her life.
There were no gifts under the tree, and there was a very good reason for that, Pollock said.
"Christmas isn't about presents."
In deference to Independence Day, Pollock displayed her "patriotic Santas," those holding U.S. flags or other Americana symbols.
"I probably have about 200 more (Santas) packed away," she said.
The Rowan offspring remain a close-knit group. Occasionally, there is a breakdown in communication when they "assume everybody knows everything" going on in the family, and somebody gets left out of the news chain, Pollock said.
This revelation prompted anecdotes about how her parents would go somewhere, only to have her father return alone, wonder where her mother was, and quickly retrace his route to retrieve his wife.
A gathering of all the siblings is a rare thing, with a couple of them living in other parts of the country, but they were all together in May for a nephew's wedding.
Perhaps next July, all 13 will gather in Pollock's home for some Christmas carols accompanied by fireworks.