Every once in awhile, we get asked the question “How did you become Christmas light fanatics?”. It’s a reasonable question, and to properly answer it, we’ll need to go back in time to when Tim was a young child. Tim picks up the story from here:
I’ve always suspected that I was born to be a Christmas light fanatic. In my baby book, my mom wrote this about me when I was 2 1/2 years old: “Timmy really enjoyed Christmas this year and could hardly wait to light the outdoor lights and tree each evening. When it started getting a little dark around 4:30 or 5:00 he would want them on…”
These early tendencies aside, my own decorating story goes back to when I was eight years old. My older sister was in her first year of college, and decided she needed some decorations for her dorm room. My brother Mike and I shared a room at home, and decided that it would be fun to decorate our room as well. We started with just a few 35-light strings (which was the common standard back then) and a little “Charlie Brown” caliber tree. Every year, we’d scour the after-Christmas sales and pick up some new items for our room. We had dozens of strings, most of them set to flash, so the room was quite psychedelic with all the blinking lights!
As I got older, I would help Dad hang the lights up outside. Dad was a great inspiration for my lighting hobby as well. He didn’t put up a lot of lights, but set some standards that live with me to this day. Also, we lived directly across the street from our church, which had a large nativity scene. He declared “no Santa Claus” for our display — not because he didn’t like Santa, but he didn’t want to “compete” with the real meaning of Christmas demonstrated in the Nativity (see Why We Do It for our way of keeping this tradition alive). Of course, I still kept the bedroom lit brightly as well, even after my brother went off to college and claimed some of the lights for himself.
When I went off to college my roommate and I plastered our single window with lights, and put lots of crazy, blinking lights everywhere (all of them mine)!. By the time I was a senior, it had really reached a new level of “tackiness”– friends in thought I was nuts when I decked out the room with several thousand lights!! Several of them even brought their parents to our room when they came to visit to show them what I had done!
Fortunately when I finally got my own home in 1996, I finally had the space to spread things out, and build up a display that most people hopefully considered more pretty than tacky. The display continued to grow, and in 1999, Cathy and I were married. She not only tolerates my passion — she actively assists me in many ways. She’s the “artistic side” of the display, and among many other things, was instrumental in creating our Peanuts Nativity Pageant display. I’m not sure if Cathy has any entries in her baby book about appreciating Christmas lights, but she certainly has become a fanatic in her own right.
As the years went on, we added a couple of boys, who grew up to help out and love the display. And before you knew it, we were doing this for over two decades. Our oldest son went off to college in the fall of 2023, but helped out with some project builds during the summer and helped with setup when he was back on break. Our youngest is in high school, and we’re not quite sure what we’ll do when we lose both of our setup helpers, but we’ll take it year by year.
Mom’s Christmas Display in 2001