Jeanne and Ed Marchiselli have been married for forty-seven years and they have expressed their mutual love of holiday celebration throughout those years. Even as a young couple, living in Queens, N.Y. with four small children, the Marchisellis decorated their home for Christmas and Easter. "It was harder when the kids were little," explained Jeanne Marchiselli. "We would stay up until two or three in the morning decorating because that was the only free time we had." Living near Manhattan allowed the Marchisellis great access to resources and ideas. Red velvet bows from Macy's and other beautiful fabrics and accessories adorned their Queens home.
Nine years later, after visiting relatives in Florida, the Marchisellis decided to leave the harsh winters and declining school system in Queens and move to Florida permanently. They bought a home on the north end of Clearwater Beach and have lived there for the last 37 years. "We were surprised to be the only ones that decorated for Christmas in our neighborhood that first year," recalls Ed Marchiselli. But that would soon change.
After the first year some of the Marchiselli's neighbors began to decorate for Christmas and the Marchisellis changed their decorating style. "All of our fabrics, bows and even our artificial tree faded that first year," explained Jeanne. "We hadn't known about the fierce afternoon sun out on the beach." The Marchisellis learned quickly to shut the blinds during the heat of the day and, more importantly, to buy decorations that wouldn't fade in the Florida sun.
The Marchisellis also expanded their decorations. They started with decorating for Christmas and Easter only, but after moving to Florida they began decorating for other holidays. A row of happy scarecrows adorn their yard each fall. Red, white and blue lights and a flag dress their house for the Fourth of July. After 9-11, a sign that says, "Bless Our Troops," remains permanently in all the Marchisellis holiday displays. Storage for all these decorations is a problem, grass never has a chance to grow in their yard, and Ed Marchiselli is getting older, but nothing hinders this family from spreading good-will during the holidays.
Last year, during the Christmas season, the baby Jesus from the Marchisellis manger scene and a sign saying, "Happy Birthday Jesus," was stolen from their yard. One might think this would dampen the Marchisellis holiday spirit, but they have already purchased a new baby Jesus for this year's Christmas display. "At first I wanted to strangle the people that took these things from our yard," exclaimed Jeanne, "but now I can only hope the baby Jesus did their souls some good."
When asked for a special recipe she makes during the Christmas holidays, Jeanne Marchiselli laughed and said," I have a dressing recipe that I make every year, but your readers will hate it!" This is an Italian recipe, handed down from the Marchiselli family that, as Jeanne explains, "took me years to appreciate and I can still only eat a couple of bites every Christmas." She did agree to share the Marchiselli family recipe:
Roughly grate the dried loaves of bread. Mix all the ingredients together using your hands. Add more or less eggs depending on the consistency of the mixture. It should be very moist without being runny. Place in a glass baking dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately one hour. Make sure that it is fully cooked. You'll know it is done if a toothpick stuck in the center comes out dry.
Justin Homburg, the Marchiselli's grandson built his first Christmas display in his yard this year. He used old drywall to build a ramp for Santa's sleigh and reindeer. Rudolf even has a glowing red nose! Where did he get his inspiration? Justin will tell you, "I learned it all from granddad!" One can only hope that Justin, the Marchiselli family, and all those who show their holiday spirit realize how much we appreciate their efforts. They are part of what makes "spirits bright!"
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