A Gift for All

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead East

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!

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Wil­liam and Sylvia Mc Comb stand be­hind some of their favourite dec­o­ra­tions: a team of beau­ti­fully hand-crafted rein­deer.

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