Garden of Lights

Santa Sign in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Santa Sign (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Over the years, I have driven by this exorbitantly decorated property, thinking that it was a bit over the top.  Actually, I thought it was pretty tacky.  But this year, I looked at it with fresh eyes and a different perspective.  Perhaps, after all, this elaborate holiday display could be looked at in another way; as something beautiful and special.

Horse & Carriage Ornament in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Horse & Carriage Ornament (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

And so, instead of driving by after a quick glance, I decided to stop and take a closer look.  I followed the handmade signs telling me “Christmas Display Ahead,” followed by more signs warning drivers to use caution and “SLOW DOWN.”  When I got to the property, it wasn’t quite dark and I was able to wander around and see the vast assortment of Christmas collectibles set up on this half acre hillside: Mr. & Mrs. Claus with sunglasses (I later found out this was due to the couple being vandalized), reindeer and sleighs, gingerbread men, penguins, snow men, Santa on a Harley, a giant polar bear, horse drawn carriages . . .  There were so many pieces, I couldn’t even guess at the amount, but I could tell that some were quite old, a few even handmade.

North Pole sign in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

North Pole sign (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

It started to get dark, and magically, section by section, the lights came on.  There were flashing lights.  There were sequential lights.  There were lights in every shade of the color wheel; from vibrant reds, cobalt blues, emerald greens, sunshine oranges and sparkling whites.  There were spot lights set up strategically to illuminate some of the older pieces.  Suddenly, you were transported to the North Pole, where anything is possible . . .

Garden of Lights in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Garden of Lights (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

I spent some time taking photos, temporarily mesmerized, and didn’t immediately notice the jolly fellow himself was standing just feet away.  “Why Santa,” I exclaimed, “What a lovely display you have here.  Could I ask you a few questions about your light show?”  Santa, aka Doug McRoberts, was soon accompanied by Mrs. Claus (wife Terri), and they happily answered all my questions.

Santa & Reindeer ornament in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Santa & Reindeer ornament (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Their labor of love, four weeks in the making, started twenty years ago when they moved to this home in Wassaic, NY.  The decorating started in honor of Terri’s childhood family tradition; where everyone piled into the car and drove to see the huge Christmas light display set up by a family in nearby Poughkeepsie.  This memory was so treasured by Terri’s parents, that they not only encouraged their daughter and son-in-law to carry it on, they gave them all their assorted heirloom decorations, and gifted new ones each Christmas to keep the collection growing.  And grow it did.  Having lost count of the decorations long ago, they both chuckled when I asked about their electric bill, adding that they accepted full responsibility for any power outages caused in the area.   As we continued to chat, Santa looked at his watch and said “We have to get ready, the children will be coming soon.”  Mrs. Claus fixed her hair, and Santa pulled on his gloves.  The Christmas music started to play as they sat on their bench, next to a faux brick wall lined with stockings and flanked by antique drummer boy lamps on either side.

Santa & Mrs. Claus in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Santa & Mrs. Claus (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Reflecting for a moment about this charming couple and their decorations, I realized I had a few lessons to learn.  First, if you’re going to do something, do it with passion and give it your all.  And second, to avoid being judgmental; assessing people and things solely by appearances.  Maybe there is something more, if we just take the time to really look.  When I considered my personal preconceptions, I clearly saw the correlation between my desire to beautify my property with plants and theirs to beautify with ornaments.  We were both gardeners with the same objective; to create a visually pleasing setting to share with others.  Just as I tend to my garden every year, editing and adding new plants, Doug and Terri painstakingly place each piece in an appropriate spot.  In fact, this is their garden, a garden of lights.

As I turned to go, I asked: “One last question, Santa, if you don’t mind.  What do you and Mrs. Claus want for Christmas?”  “Ho, ho, ho,”  Santa laughed, “Why more Christmas decorations, of course!”

~Wishing you all the very happiest of holidays, with peace, good health and prosperity for the year ahead~♥


  1. Love this Christmas message kathy – really made me stop and think. Merry Christmas! Love,dina

  2. What a charming tradition and Christmas message. Well done!

    • Thank you, Sue. The holidays are a time of gratitude and reflection for me, I love to share my thoughts, and greatly appreciate the feedback. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones~Kathy

  3. Jean ONeill says

    Hi Kathy,

    Thank you for sharing your moment with this couple who are lucky enough to have something so special that they do together for tradition and for us. Especially loved your garden reference – never thought about Christmas decorations that way – Hope I can find them next season and will definitely stop and say ho, ho, ho.

    • Thank you, Jean. I loved sharing this story, in my mind the true meaning of Christmas. I appreciate your comments, as I love to hear from my readers! ~Kathy

  4. Thank you for this post, I so enjoyed it! The older light-up Santas, snowmen and other figures are known as blow molds. Blow molds are no longer manufactured and each year a display like this becomes more difficult to achieve and thus more precious and special.

    • Everything about this “garden” and its caretakers is special; two lovely people putting such effort into displaying and sharing (what I now know are) treasured figures and ornaments with anyone that cares to look. Truly inspiring and especially meaningful this time of year. Thanks so much for writing, Kathie. Happy holidays~

  5. Love the lights, and the story- puts you in the mood for Christmas!

    • Thank you! It’s my favorite Christmas story-and the only blog post I re-ran twice (originally posted December 2012). Happy holidays!

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A Garden for All