Friends bring Christmas spirit to people through lights (Video)

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Dec. 22, 2012 at 6:22 a.m.
Updated Dec. 23, 2012 at 6:23 a.m.

Most times of the year, the house on the corner of Mallette Drive and Blyth Street is an average, nicely kept home, but once a year, it becomes a Christmas wonderland.

Each year as the holiday season draws near, Joy Pittman and her friend Debbie Stephens put in hours of work to construct a Christmas display that will stop people in their tracks.

"We look forward to it," Stephens said. "We're dog-tired once we're done, but we love it."

Stephens, a full-time grandma, and Pittman, a science teacher at Hope Academy, have known each other for about 50 years, since they met as 10-year-olds on the school bus.

Even then, Pittman loved Christmas, perhaps inheriting the love of it from her grandmother who was born on Christmas and had a legendary enjoyment of the holiday. Pittman was named after her grandmother.

"I guess I got it from her," she said.

She used to only decorate inside, finding the thought of decorating the entire yard too daunting.

Then Stephens suggested Pittman take a crack at it. She started putting a display together, and before she knew it she had a reindeer barn, more strings of lights than could be counted and an assortment of holiday figures.

Pittman started hitting the after-Christmas sales to get decorations at a price she could afford, and she and Stephens started designing the displays so people could drive by and appreciate the lights or actually get out and walk through the creation.

Pittman had ideas about what she wanted, and then Stephens would figure out how to actually do it.

"We complement each other. I know what I want, and she knows how to put it," Pittman said.

They have developed a system working off both pictures and memory as they construct the displays each year.

They used to wait to start at noon Thanksgiving Day, but, now, as they've gotten older the start date has moved up earlier and earlier.

This year, they began pulling out the skiing polar bear, the blue-and-pink peacocks, the inflatable Snoopy and a myriad of other decorations on Nov. 1.

As they worked, people would honk and call encouragements while driving by the house. Sometimes, the people would even stop to help.

Pittman would graciously allow it, though she watched them like a hawk, and, if something wasn't set up right, she'd be there fixing it the moment they left.

"People love this so much they want to be part of it, so I try and let them," she said.

That's the whole point of the decorations, to bring people joy.

Stephens and Pittman both love watching children and adults explore their Christmas display, love watching their faces light up as they take in the sheer quirky spectacle.

The lights are lit from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Pittman and Stephens will keep the display up for as long as possible. They want to enjoy their work, but Pittman said she's also hoping people will look at the display and remember the love and kindness that this time of year tends to bring with it.

"We try to light up until mid-January, to hang onto that Christmas spirit for as long as possible, because it seems like people are better this time of year when you have that spirit of Christmas," Pittman said.

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