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Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

Holiday lights, displays provide much joy; lets preserve and respect them

Isn’t it fun to drive through town in the evenings during the Christmas season? The lights and decorations add a special spark to the season of wonder and hope.

Lawn ornaments and lighting arrangements become a family heritage for some, as new characters are added to the holiday scene each year.

Elaborate, brightly-painted wood carvings represent countless hours of labors of love by couples or individuals. Our family has fun each year, trying to guess which is the new character in our neighbors’ lawn collection. What fun for their grandkids to see.

I remember years ago when my dad was battling fiercely-cold weather and winds to get the Christmas lights up for his first grandchild who was going to be coming by their home soon.

While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the effect of Christmas lights for years, I gained a new perspective 17 years ago, when I was driving home from work with my almost-2-year-old.

Duncan was full of oohs and ahs as he observed the lights as we left daycare at Cherrie’s. He exclaimed about displays in yards where he knew the owners and made requests to drive by certain family friends.

And when we arrived home, he said in a quiet little voice, “But no lights at Duncan’s house.”

Oh my! Nothing made his dad work faster than that comment. By the next evening, there were lights at Duncan’s house, and the comment has become a family fun-line during those years where the lighting project just hasn’t happened.

For that reason, we especially enjoy the efforts of residents who take the time to put up their displays for all to enjoy. It is a community experience to drive around town and see the lights, and we appreciate the effort and expense that goes into it.

Two high school entrepreneurs have started quite a business this year in assisting residents with their lights and displays for the season. What joy they’re bringing to not only the viewing community, but to the aging or busy residents who are thankful for assistance with the task.

My heart was saddened early this week when I listened to a community daughter tell of her aging dad’s delight in putting out his handmade lawn ornaments, only to have several of them taken from the display.

The daughter was in tears for far more than the loss of the ornaments alone. She knows the amount of time and love her dad put into making those ornaments. His failing eyesight no longer allows him to do that, and family members aren’t sure if they’ll be able to find his patterns.

What’s more, each of the lawn ornaments was designated for a grandchild or great-grandchild as part of their heritage to remember Grandpa by.

It’s been said there’s a little competition with neighboring communities to vandalize or remove yard ornaments and lighting displays.

Yes, it happens every year. But it isn’t funny. It’s not only a cost factor, but a violation of personal pride and a punch in the stomach to a family tradition. It takes away years of hard work and joy in family and community projects.

I would hope those guilty of having some fun with other people’s property would rethink the impact they’re potentially having on a family’s source of pride, hard work and heritage.

If there are “no lights at Duncan’s house,” or any home in the community, may it be by choice of the household, not because the lights were stolen or vandalized.