Before the torrential rains and flooding arrived to temporarily ruin the mood, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Chemainus, especially at the Chadwick household on Cottonwood Road.
Sisters Brenda and Kellie Chadwick go all out for Christmas and fortunately got their massive yard display with numerous inflatables, figurines and light strings all set up ahead of the atmospheric river deluge so it will surely make the season brighter for so many as they’ve done in the past.
They usually wait until after Remembrance Day to light it all up, but the time-consuming process of getting everything into place was already done before that.
The Chadwicks have been in their current residence for about seven years and made the Christmas display an immediate tradition.
“There are a lot of people who love their Christmas display and if you haven’t seen it at night then you must,” enthused Helen Stephen, who lives in the vicinity.
Helen and Jamie Stephen’s grandchildren, Grace, Lucy and Geordie Lavigne, left a note for the Chadwicks that first year and they still put it out every year as a reminder of why they do it.
The note said: “We love your Christmas lights. We enjoy seeing them at night. They are awesome.”
“It was neat that our grandkids were young enough when they started doing it to marvel at the magic of their place being transformed,” noted grandmother Helen.
The Chadwicks almost feed off each other, one likes lights more than figurines and via versa, so the display naturally gets larger every year. One even likes white lights and the other coloured so they all go up.
“It kind of started I had a few things when Kellie moved in,” said Brenda.
The Stephens’ grandchildren, “they were kind of the catalyst,” she added.
“Kellie and I can’t go shopping together,” laughed Brenda. “She likes one, I like another so we end up buying seven instead of two.”
“The lights above are amazing,” added Kellie.
It’s always an adventure from one year to the next making sure everything’s working properly, as most people can relate to, before plugging it all in.
“You put everything away, you know it works, you take it out, you plug it in and half the head’s blown off,” said Brenda in a familiar refrain.
It takes a lot of effort to store it away as much as bring it out for the few short weeks of the year.
“My cousin’s built us a big shelf in the garage,” noted Kellie. That helps with the storage issue.
Brenda pointed out the lights all went up one day and “we managed to get the figurines up in one day.”
The elements definitely take a toll on everything.
“A lot of these things are built for eastern, the cold and the snow, rather than the rain,” said Brenda.
“A lot of them are wounded. A couple of years ago we had that giant windstorm, everything blew over. I had to throw some stuff out because I couldn’t fix it this year.”
“Now we use tent pegs,” explained Kellie.
“And rebar,” Brenda indicated.
Lighting up people’s lives definitely comes with a cost.
“It’s always fun to see your Hydro bill,” laughed Brenda.
But people love what they do so much they’re willing to help pay.
“We had neighbours one year with a Christmas card with money in it to help out with Hydro costs,” Kellie pointed out.
“A lot of them say they don’t put lights up because we represent the neighbourhood.”
It just requires some budgeting for the Chadwicks to make it all pay off.
And they also have to be respectful of the neighbours, turning off the lights around 11 p.m. at the latest because they are very bright. On the other hand, that’s beneficial for some when a neighbour once commented he could read a book by the Chadwicks’ Christmas light glare from down the road and it was quite convenient.
The Chadwicks make sure the display is a little different, with figurines not positioned in the same place so there’s always a surprise from one year to the next. People have their own opinions on that, too, where everything should go.
“It’s funny, it’s the adults that comment more than the kids,” said Brenda.
“People will yell, ‘a little bit to the left,’” chuckled Kellie.
“The hooking-up is probably the hardest part,” conceded Brenda.
And they have to give credit where it’s due, saying Donna Bastian helps them out every year.
Overall, the joy to the world the Chadwicks bring makes it all worthwhile.