As more and more families call Reynolds home, holidays on Lake Oconee are taking on a very different look. The traditional Christmas tree hung with ornaments has been replaced by one with fishing hooks instead of tinsel, reels for candy canes, and the angel on top just might be a hand-tied lure. And since Santa Claus has traded his customary red coat for an angler’s vest, houses along the lake are showing off canoes and paddleboards instead of pine cones and poinsettias.

Lake-themed décor is a fun way to show one’s Christmas spirit. But don’t think that means the Grinch has run off with the true meaning of the holidays.“Just because we have a lake Christmas each year doesn’t mean that we forget the reason for the season,” says Rosalee Neill, who, along with husband Jim, has been giving Christmas a lake look for many years including an annual party to show off their decorations.

“The story behind these decorations speak for the season,” Neill explains. It started years ago when women at her church started The Holiday House, where they could give old Christmas decorations new life and a new purpose. These women took in old Christmas decorations, refurbished them, some with lake-themed accents, and sold the final products to members of the church and anyone else who were interested in having their own lake Christmas. The proceeds from the sale of each decoration went to The Youth Alliance, a social program promoting bully-free and healthy relationships in Greene and Putnam counties.

“Each year as I put out the decorations I enjoy knowing that their purchase went to a greater cause,” says Neill. The church no longer continues this tradition from years ago. However, if you want to start your own lake Christmas traditions, shop local décor and floral shops around Lake Oconee and let the decorating begin!

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