A Gift for All
Santa needs to make a pit stop for extra Christmas spirit while he’s in our region this Saturday night, I think I know where he’ll be stopping: at Sylvia and William Mc Comb’s property in Stanstead East! That’s because, over the past five years, the Mc Comb’s have
transformed their large property along the 143 into a veritable winter wonderland every December.
Not only is their large, century-old house fully decorated with reindeer, giant illuminated candy canes, gingerbread men and Christmas ornaments, not to mention the hundreds of lights, their large yard is also decorated to the max with a few dozen reindeer, about twentyfive Christmas trees, strings and strings of colored lights and much, much more.
During an interview with the Mc Combs, I was surprised to learn that the couple, who will soon be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, put up all the decorations on their own every year. “At the beginning of November we got our trees from Claude Lachapelle. We put stakes in the ground, tied the trees to the stakes, and decorated them with lights,” explained Mr. Mc Comb. “We like to get everything up before we get a lot of snow. We don’t work at it every day in November but when it’s nice we go out and putter around. Last year I remember decorating one day in our shirt sleeves,” added Mrs. Mc Comb.
Of course, the Mc Combs have a system: first the trees, then the reindeer, the gazebo, the garage, then the front of the house, saving the best for last. Somewhere in there the blow-up decorations and the manger are also installed. “When we take the lights out (they have about 125 sets) we plug them in one at a time. We only had trouble with one set of lights this year,” mentioned William.
They are also very orga- nized, even going so far as to build a small garage to house their decorations. Three switches at the house control the flow of electricity to everything except the blow-up decorations which need to be plugged in continually to stay inflated.
Not surprisingly, the Mc Combs have become very good at acquiring decorations. “We like to add something new every year so we start looking right after Christmas. We paid $12 for those balls (the giant ornaments that hang on their porch) instead of $40 each. We went to Sears lately and bought ornaments with a scratch card. We scratched 25%, the cashier said we could buy more, so we went back and bought all the LED lights they had!” explained the couple. William and Sylvia also shop garage sales for decorations and found probably their favorite, a set of hand-made, wooden reindeer, at a machinery auction. “A couple took a whole year to build those reindeer,” said Mr. Mc Comb about the beautifully carved and varnished beasts, complete with furry, white tails.
Apparently I’m not the only traveler along the 143 who has been delighted to see the Mc Comb’s yard light up every December. “Somebody was taking a lot of pictures this morning but more often they come at night. We’ll be watching TV and we’ll see flashes outside the window. People stop every night but Friday and Saturday are busy nights,” they mentioned.
Friday afternoon after our interview, Mr. Mc Comb turned on the lights outside a little early, around 4:30, so I could take some pictures. Within seconds a car stopped on the other side of the road to enjoy the view. At a recent community supper in Ayer’s Cliff someone asked Sylvia: “When are you turning your lights on this year? My kids want to go and see them!”
William and Sylvia also enjoy seeing the results of the decorating endeavors of others, going for drives themselves “just for the pleasure of seeing the lights.” “We like to go to Stanstead and especially to see the home of Mrs. Gosselin, in Beebe. Her place is beautiful!”
Self-taught masters in the art of outdoor Christmas decorating, the only thing the Mc Comb’s sometimes find challenging is getting the huge job done without arguing. “I usually just say ‘You’re the boss!’” said Mr. Mc Comb. This year it will be a little more challenging, however, to put away all the decorations. Just days after the decorations were all in place Mr. Mc Comb took a nasty tumble, breaking his wrist and several ribs, so dismantling the display won’t be easy.
While talking with William and Sylvia, I saw a woman stop to put a letter in their mailbox. “I like to see the people come; they park across the street at the neighbours to get a good view. And we get letters in the mailbox. In one letter it said: Your lights are even better than last year and we like looking at them,” said Sylvia.
The Mc Comb’s magical holiday display begins in early December, from 5 to 9 every evening, and lasts just until around January 2nd, so see it while you can!
William and Sylvia Mc Comb stand behind some of their favourite decorations: a team of beautifully hand-crafted reindeer.