A Charles Adams Christmas means thinking
Appeal Staff Writer
Each gift has a story.
And each gifter wants Charles Adams to tell it.
… At least those lucky enough to receive an invitation to the semi-retired “photographer of the stars'” annual Christmas party.
The eight-year Carson resident’s home this holiday season resembles something close to the inside of a Victoria’s Secret – bows, ribbons, garland, baubles and beads, all shades of pink – his halls decked in anticipation of local luminaries enjoying an annual eve of “merriment and fun” slated for Saturday.
“After all, everyone can use a little party,” he said with the slightest hint of a southern lilt.
The tradition of picking out a Christmas theme and “incorporating it in every box, bow and ribbon” started more than a decade ago when Adams, then living on Lake Tahoe, decidedly missed the hum of Los Angeles.
“I moved up here after 35 years down there,” he said. “I was ready for a change. I’d gone everywhere, seen everything – I’d shot all the stars I wanted to; met all the people I wanted to – I was ready for quiet.”
But that didn’t last long.
Adams’ parties (from Christmas, to his August birthday celebrations, to “just getting people together”) attracted “people of all stripes” – and the themes grew more elaborate.
“I used to do set (decoration),” he said, his pencil thin mustache drawn up by his smile. “That’s where the idea came from for doing a big Christmas. Christmas, after all, is the last American fantasy.
“I mean we’ve done everything else – we had the sexual revolution. So now we have Christmas – and what do we do?”
What he does is go all out.
Each year, Adams and his contemporaries decide on a Christmas theme that will be both topical and “hopefully non-controversial.”
“Some of the people who come to the party are in politics,” he said. “It’s what they do for a living – so we try not to make it too political.
“But we definitely want it to be a reflection of what’s going on that year.”
For Christmas ’05, just two months after Hurricane Katrina decimated the South, Adams decorated his home with a Mardi Gras theme. In ’03 it was red, white and blue, for a nation at war.
So when September rolled around and a theme still hadn’t come to him, Adams said he “simply started to look around.”
“I think we’re at a time now – it’s been a tough year for a lot of people,” he said. “And pink is the color of love. It’s the color of devotion. It embodies simpatico.
“And isn’t that what we need a little more of this year?”
Adams couldn’t deny pink’s connotive value, noting that it is the champion color for the fight against breast cancer.
“We wanted to focus on women in general,” he said. “A few of us got to talking and we noticed that women coming back from the war as amputees – there’s not a whole lot of help for them specifically. We wanted to keep them in mind this year.”
Adams’ helpers include old friends from the Tahoe basin Nancy Becker and Charles McLeod, his chief tree trimmers.
“They have an entire hanger – as in the kind you put airplanes in – full of decorations. They’re the best at what they do,” he said.
His tree up and his house resembling a petty coat from a giant prom dress, a line of would-be guests found themselves at Adams’ door, asking them to wrap their gifts for the party’s exchange.
“I try to wrap according to people’s personality,” he said. “(The party) is host to people of all ages, from 21 to 81 – the younger people, I try to get more creative.”
The intricately wrapped gifts resembled everything from a simple Tiffany box with ribbon to a beaded meringue that was “wrapped to look like a wedding cake,” Adams said.
And so, when the 100-plus guests do arrive Saturday to take home their share of holiday spirit and perhaps a trinket or two, Adams said he hopes they go forth with a “little something extra.”
“The people who come here, they work in all kinds of professions; they are teachers, writers, artists, doctors … they are elected officials,” he said. “I want them to remember pink – this color of compassion – when they go forth back to their lives.
“And maybe, something good will come from it.”
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.