In 1975 Dan and Mary celebrated their first Christmas together. Living in an efficiency apartment, there wasn’t much room for Christmas decorating. Dan wasn’t all that concerned about a Christmas tree but Mary persisted and at the last minute they purchased a 3 foot, artificial tree and a few lights. They still have that tree and the lights. As the years passed they always had a Christmas tree and slowly, as most couples do, they added little things to their Christmas box.
Until 1995 their Christmas decorating was confined to indoors. In 1995 Mary strung a few lights along the top of a fence. Dan had ‘better’ things to do (probably watching an old John Wayne movie). He felt a bit guilty the next day and put a few strings of miniature lights on some bushes. What I didn’t tell you is that Dan has a problem. He is an extremist. After he put the lights on the bushes, Dan stepped back and thought to himself, "This would look better with more lights!"
Mary put a hundred of the large lights (C9s) along the top of their fence. Dan put a couple hundred lights on a few bushes. The Christmas bug had found its mark.
A basic Nativity set was added. It was placed on the front stoop. A star was placed in the peak over the front door with twinkle lights leading down to the Nativity set. Santa and four reindeer were placed on the roof where the roof tree display is today. A plastic tree of lights was placed on the roof next to Santa. Five flat triangle light trees were built and hung on the house. The Xs were placed on the fence. Lights were added to the porch roofs and candles were placed in most windows.
After Christmas of 1996 Dan had his first major "after Christmas buying binge". It was becoming apparent that Christmas decorating was an obsession. It is one thing to go to the after Christmas sales at your local stores, but Dan was 1200 miles from home on vacation and had to ship everything back to New Jersey.
Nine light trees were built. The trees were covered with seven different colors. The house was outlined in large multi-colored bulbs. The Big Tree was built. Blue perimeter lights were placed around the house. The Nativity was moved under the Big Tree.
Six 15 Amp outlets were added to the exterior of the house to power the lights. X-10 controls were added to automatically turn the entire display on and off. Dan was a bit disappointed by the blue perimeter lights. It turns out that blue lights are rather hard to see especially with the street lights around the house. The candy cane shutters were cut out and primed but didn’t get finished for this year.
After Christmas, Dan started patrolling the local Kmarts waiting for prices to drop. This year there was a huge overstock on tree rotators and tree top stars. As he stood in line with multiple shopping carts, he started thinking...
This was a busy year. The blue perimeter lights were replaced with multi-color lights. Seven larger light trees were built. Five of the new light trees were placed on the roof to become the Roof Trees. The castle was added. Five tree rotators were used to animate the display. This year it was painted in white primer. There wasn’t time to add any colors. When Dan went to complete the candy cane shutters he started the year before he decided to build the window frames and to electrify them. Once the window were completed it seemed only natural to add the soffit frosting. Santa was moved from the roof to the front yard next to the Castle.
The Whirlygig was built and another tree rotator was used. It was populated with angels purchased a year earlier during post Christmas buying frenzies. In 1998 Dan did a little handy work for an older couple who live next door. They wanted to pay but he felt bad taking money so they struck a deal. The neighbors had suggested that the Nativity needed a stable and contributed cash for the supplies. The Stable was completed for that season. The Hanukkah Tree was also added.
A two channel fader was added to the fence which faded the Xs from clear to multi. Other than the fader and a few twinkle lights the display was completely static.
The house’s electrical service was upgraded from 100 Amps to 200 Amps. Five 20 amp outside outlets were added. The garage no longer had room for cars.
The computer age dawned. Control of most lights was converted to computer control. The five CL2000 Trees were built and programmed. Clear lights were added as a second color to all the light trees and bushes. Vertical bars were added to the fence. The number of large lights on top of the fence was quadrupled and became sequence lights. Many more plastic characters (blow molds) were added to the display. The Castle was painted with red trim. The castle rotators were enhanced with bigger, faster motors.
Twelve 20 amp outdoor outlets were added to power the additional lights. Dan’s next door neighbor expressed concern that pilots may have problems locating the local airport.
The computer was upgraded to an industrial model. More computer controls were added. A new sound system was added. A third color was added to all of the trees and bushes. Years earlier Dan had purchased two shopping carts full of tree top stars when an overstocked Kmart put them on sale for 25 cents. This year he finally used some of them. A light tree, covered with stars was added.
Rope lights replaced the mini lights making up the Xs on the fence. Rope lights were also used as reins for Santa’s reindeer and wrapped around porch posts. New blowmolds were added to the castle. A fader was added to the Hanukkah Tree to fade it from blue to white( clear frosted ). Over the last couple of years, Dan’s sister Sherry has spent untold days wrapping and unwrapping the lights on the light trees. This year Dan built a rack that holds 14 of the trees, stacked like ice cream cones.
2000 left the Baldwin’s with a number of incomplete projects and a large inventory of unused lights. Dan tried to stay away from the after Christmas sales. As of March 18, 2001 his trunk was still packed full of lights. Who can resist a 90% sale? The Most important event in 2000 was Alex joining the family!
Today there is the Big Tree. Coming in 2001 is the "Giant Tree". It will use 40,000 to 50,000 of the unused light stockpile. Stay tuned....