Christmas tree a tribute to George Washington
By DONNA VICKROY email@example.com December 21, 2012 7:30PM
Pam Bloom talks about how much she likes George Washington and how she decorates her tree in his honor every year, while at her home in Frankfort, IL, on Thursday, November 15, 2012. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2013 6:06AM
It’s hard to say where Independence Day ends and Christmas begins inside Pam Bloom’s Frankfort home.
The local historian and mother of two decorates in red, white and blue. And the star of her holiday decor is her hero, George Washington.
Now, you may think that the time for honoring the founding father’s accomplishments is early July, but Bloom’s December display reminds us that Christmas 1776 was one of Washington’s finest moments.
When Washington led his tattered Continental Army across the Delaware River that freezing night, it was an act of desperation. Few expected the surprise attack on the Hessians at Trenton to change the course of the American revolution, and world history. Yet, that’s exactly what it did.
Washington’s fortitude, determination and prescience are among the attributes that helped make him the nation’s first president. And those qualities are what Bloom finds so endearing.
“I just admire him so much,” Bloom said.
She wears her passion proudly. Throughout her two-story home are mementoes and tokens, pictures and statues, postcards and collectibles, all paying tribute to the father of our country.
Of course, her Christmas tree pays homage to the man, as well.
“I love this tree. I am honored to be able to put up this tree,” Bloom said, giving her red-, white- and blue-decorated fir a virtual embrace.
Covered in shiny stars, tiny blue patterned plates, American flags and red-and-blue glass balls, the tree is as much a symbol of the holidays as it is Bloom’s patriotism. Underneath it, atop a red, white and blue skirt, are statues of Washington, including a George Washington Barbie that Bloom found at FAO Schwartz.
“This represents who we are as Americans,” Bloom said. “It’s our tribute to our country.
“A country that might not exist today without the leadership of Washington and others like him,” she said. “It’s all of those early players. If those players hadn’t been there, at that time and place, there’s a good chance none of us would be here today.”
But unlike some of the other founding fathers, Bloom said, Washington’s reputation is impeccable.
“Washington was humble, he led with integrity and felt a sense of duty,” she said. “He was pivotal in pulling this whole country together.”
Some of the items in her patriotic collection are priceless; some are whimsical. She displays the official White House ornaments as proudly as she shows off the big-headed caricature statue of Washington that she found at TJ Maxx.
She has a paper village display that includes a replica of Mt. Vernon, Washington’s home. On her living room wall hang portraits of Washington and his wife, Martha.
Several rooms are papered in toile, an early French colonial pattern that was favored by many American colonists.
Bloom, a graduate of Sandburg High School, is married “to the love of my life,” she says. Her husband, Ed, works in computer systems’ disaster recovery.
They have two daughters: Katelyn, a children’s librarian in Peotone, and Madelyn, a teacher in Manhattan.
Bloom does historical work for New Lenox Township, compiling detailed records much the way her favorite president did. She used to own a fundraising company called Blooming Enterprises, which helped local schools and nonprofits raise money for special events and trips. She also helps veterans apply for medical benefits.
She’s been to Mt. Vernon, which she said, “felt like home.”
Bloom has always been interested in history and has spent countless hours researching her extended family’s history on ancestry.com.
“I could see the struggles our families went through in the beginning of our country,” she said. One thing led to another and she found herself researching the “Father of our Country.”
“What I love about Washington is that people wanted him to be king and he said no. He was very reluctant to even be president,” she said.
Her admiration, she added, is not political.
“This is not about Republicans or Democrats or Tea Parties or any of that,” she said. “It’s about being able to live in this free country.”