Couple continues holiday tradition with big red bow

  • Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 12:29 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, December 10, 2012 6:20 a.m.
Jon C. Lakey/Salisbury Post
Michelle and Robert Spieler pose with their daughter , Gracie, in front of their home. The house the Spielers purchased recently on Stratford Place in Country Club Hills is decorated with a big red bow. The long tradition of the big red Christmas bow was started by previous owners, Nell and Madison Earl Bullard decades earlier. When the house was sold, the bow and instructions to hang the bow were left with the house.
Jon C. Lakey/Salisbury Post Michelle and Robert Spieler pose with their daughter , Gracie, in front of their home. The house the Spielers purchased recently on Stratford Place in Country Club Hills is decorated with a big red bow. The long tradition of the big red Christmas bow was started by previous owners, Nell and Madison Earl Bullard decades earlier. When the house was sold, the bow and instructions to hang the bow were left with the house.

SALISBURY — When Michelle and Robert Spieler bought their new home, little did they know they would rekindle a holiday tradition with one large red bow. The couple, along with their daughter, Gracie, 5, moved from Los Angeles into their Country Club Hills home in April. Now passersby stop to marvel at the green home with the big red bow, many who’d done so for decades when the home was owned by Nell and Madison Earl Bullard.

The Bullards died in 2010 and 1997 respectively, but their longstanding tradition will live on in the Spielers. The home is located on Stratford Place.


Nell Bullard, a homemaker, for years decorated the inside of the home, but it was the outside that sparked awe from neighbors and the community.

The Bullard family left the bow, pictures and other mementos for the future owners.

When the couple were considering buying the home, in the kitchen they found a scrapbook Nell Bullard made. The scrapbook contained sketches she created of the house. Nell Bullard designed the home, which was built in 1971. The building permit is also in the scrapbook. The home held pictures of the Bullard family outside of the house with the large red bow in the background.

“We’ve never seen anything like it. It meant so much to us,” said Michelle Spieler.

Not long ago people began asking the Spielers if they were going to put up the bow. Neighbors reminded Robert Spieler that Madison Earl always had exterior light that projected the bow for blocks.

It took Robert and his father-in-law four hours to hang the bow, which is made in pieces that are connected together to make a bow.

There were no holiday traditions in California.

The Salisbury Post featured the bow on the house in a 1987 photo on the front page. On Friday Gracie took a clipping of the Post photo to school for show-and-tell along with a picture Michelle took of the home.

The Bullards children couldn’t be happier the tradition is continuing.

“It is just great. As I told Michelle it’s a real tribute to my mother because she loved Christmas so much,” said Garrell Keesler, daughter of Nell and Madison Earl Bullard.

Keesler said it’s wonderful to have a family that loves the house so much.

The first time Nell Bullard decorated the outside of the house with the bow, Keesler was away at college, she said.

But when she drove home for the holidays she recalled seeing the bow upon approaching the house.

“I remember turning the corner and seeing the bow and it was large,” she said.

Her mother would decorate the house from “top to bottom,” Keesler said.

When the Spielers moved into the house, Keesler said she explained to them they didn’t have to put up the bow. Afterall, the bow isn’t easy to put up, she said.

He considers it a privilege to continue the tradition, Robert said.

“We feel fortunate we get to be a part of that,” he said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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