How Moundsville is Celebrating Christmas in 2020

David Seum, a Moundsville, WV resident we’ve profiled on this blog, walked around his Ohio River town this week taking pictures, and put together this lovely photo essay.

Decorating your home in the same way you dress up a Christmas tree is a great American tradition, taken up in towns large and small, from sea to shining sea. When I was growing up in Belgium, I never saw holiday homes decorated like they are in the U.S., as open-hearted manifestations of festive public cheer. It’s a cool thing to see, and, you can tell, Moundsville has a special Christmas spirit.

In our movie, Moundsville, now playing on PBS, we relate the story of how prison inmates used to decorate a Christmas tree on the mound that could be seen across the Ohio River. The tree was taken down decades ago, given sensitivities to the mound’s character as a sacred burial mound. It’s a story that shows America’s shifting debate around culture and cultural appropriation. The town around the mound, of course, went on celebrating Christmas as hard as it could.

To the residents of Moundsville, especially those who shared their stories with me for the blog this year: Thank you, God bless, and Merry Christmas!

John W. Miller

PS: If you’d like to add photo of homes ornamented for Christmas to this slide show, email your pictures to

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