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Brightening Up the Holidays with Decor and the Spirit of Giving

Written by Posted On Sunday, 03 December 2006 16:00

Most homeowners fall into one of three categories when it comes to holiday decorating -- those who begin right around Thanksgiving (like the stores that have snowmen holding signs advertising sales in early November)! Then there is another group, a little more laid-back, who get the holiday lights and decor up at least by the 24th of December. The third group of homeowners leaves holiday decorations up all year long; by the end of the year -- voila! Holiday decor is in full swing.

But then there is the LaFournaise family. They live in Temecula, California, and they make up for those who might have a little bit of a "bah humbug" attitude about holiday decor and getting it done. Even stringing a few strands of lights around a 3,000 square foot home will seem simple compared to what I am about to tell you.

Chris, his wife Kerilyn, their teenage son Joe, and toddler, Lilly Ann, all participate in what has become a family ritual that has spread holiday cheer across their community, and because of the Internet, all over the world. The LaFournaise family puts up so many holiday lights that you'd think you were at Disneyland for its winter Holiday parade. This is no exaggeration. See for yourself at their Southern California Christmas website, .

While the pictures don't do this magical sight justice, the facts reveal the hard work and money involved with creating this display. Their 2005 light display had approximately 43,000 light bulbs, 6,000 feet of extension cords, 9 inflatable characters, 130 lighted candy canes, 20 Christmas trees, 6 reindeer, 30 strobe lights, 4 computerized light controllers -- 64 channels, one FM transmitter for music, and 130 amps of power. That, however, was last year. This year the Holiday lights were turned on December first and the LaFournaise family encouraged four other families on the cul-de-sac to join in the spirit. The 2006 display will feature more than 100,000 lights.

On the LaFournaise website they share how-to details, complete with pictures of the planning and labor involved with their magical light display. The family uses computerized controllers to synchronize lights to music. It takes several months just to program the lights to the music. It's then broadcast over a small FM transmitter.

The LaFournaise family writes on their website, "We calculate that at peak moments in our show, we are drawing nearly 120 amps and possibly more. (For comparison, a 60-watt light bulb uses about half an amp). Last year, our electricity bill increased by about $150. The good news is that by animating the lights, it is relatively rare for all lights to be on at the same time. Any time a light is off (or dimmed) it is not consuming full power."

But the financial burden is outweighed by the harmony and legacy this family is creating.

"I love Christmas. What we like best about it is the sense of family that it gives us. It's our own tradition," said Kerilyn LaFournaise.

Really what the LaFournaise family is doing is making memories for all of us. And thank goodness they're taking the time and energy (both physical and financial) to do it.

It's a reminder to all of us that, no matter what our circumstances are, when we give and bring cheer to others it warms us from the inside out. We get a break from our problems and a chance to feel the goodness that comes from making other people happy.

The family also hosts charitable-giving drop stations. This year the family is collecting food for the local pantries.

Brightening up the holidays doesn't have to just be done with décor and lighting; you can brighten someone's spirit as well as your own by reaching out and lending a helping hand. Thanks to the LaFournaise family for setting an example and providing leadership in this area.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

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