Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mr. Street

This was so one of those chance things - from the beginning. I was on my way to pick up dinner, decided to see if I could cut through a neighbourhood to save time and ended up driving by Mr Street's house. It was December 2004. His house was decorated . . . you would not believe it. It was beautiful. He must have had 10,000 lights up, including a red sleigh, ascending to the tree tops, pulled by 8 reindeer made out of white lights. There was even a 6 foot Santa in a shed by the street corner, who worked on a motion sensor and when a car drove by, the music would begin to play and he would start dancing. Now, I must say that I can let tacky slide at Christmas, in the lights and decoration department ONLY, if it seems to be done with heart or with children in mind, but this was not tacky. This was the kind of magical looking yard that would make adults drive by slowly, even without their children in the car. It took you back to the wonder of childhood Christmases. It took decades off your life. At the sight of Mr Street's Christmas decorations, we were all 9 1/2 again. It was magic.

The next night, I took Bean back to see Mr Street's yard and the dancing Santa. She was awestruck. It became a Christmas tradition . . . the countdown from Thanksgiving, waiting for the day when we would drive by and find Mr Street had begun to decorate!

This year, Bean and I created a new tradition and it was truly my favourite part of Christmas this year. Every night after dinner and her teeth were brushed and she was in her pj's, we would drive around and look at Christmas lights. We did this every evening in December. Sometimes Mighty Mouse would come too, but, if Daddy was home, it was just me and the Bean. We picked a different neighbourhood (sub-division) every night however, at least 5 times a week, no matter where in the area we were, would would end up driving past Mr Street's house. His house is on the corner of the main subdivision street and a cul-de-sac. There was ALWAYS a line of three or four cars making a U-turn in the cul-de-sac to come back and stop in front of Santa. We would all patiently wait our turn while the children in the car ahead of us got their dancing Santa fix for the evening.

A few days after Christmas I drove past his house and saw an elderly gentleman outside. I pulled around the cul-de-sac and stopped at his driveway. I asked him if he owned the house and he said he did. I told him about Bean and how much she loved his decorations and how much we appreciated him putting them up every year. He told me how, every year he decides not to do it, but teenagers in the neighbourhood beg him to do it, because he had been putting them up for 20 years, since before they were born. Parents, who had enjoyed the decorations as teenagers, or younger, bring their children back to see them every year. He laughed and said "I just can't stop." He told me how he'd often find letters to Santa in the mailbox beside the dancing-Santa's house and how next year her was going to put a note in the community newsletter to tell parents that, if their child puts a letter to Santa in the mailbox, to please include their return address because he would like to answer every letter he received. He went on to tell me about his wife, who has Alzheimer's, who he was caring for at home. It was such an amazing, yet short visit. I drove away thinking how glad I was that I had been driving by when I was and that I was even more glad I stopped and got a chance to thank Mr Street for the Christmas magic.

Well, this week, I was driving by his house, on my way to the same restaurant I was visiting when I first discovered his magical decorations and saw the sleigh, again on the front yard.

It was so strange, how I just cried. I thought about his wife, first. I thought about how much joy he brought to so many people, just by putting up Christmas lights. I thought about him wanting to respond to children's letters to Santa and I just couldn't stop crying. You know, we'll probably move to a different city by the end of summer. We're on our way out of town for almost 2 weeks. Just like chance meeting with Mr Street, if I hadn't been driving through his neighbourhood that afternoon, I would have missed seeing this memorial. It probably won't still be up when we return from Florida. I would have left the area and never known he's passed away. I am so glad I saw this. I hurried home to get my camera and drove back to take this picture. Bean drew a picture of dancing Santa for us to take to the sleigh tomorrow, before we leave town.

Now, I don't want to get all preach-y with you, but it struck me that you never know how the little things you do, like Christmas lights, will affect those around you and, also, you should never miss an opportunity to tell someone how their life has touched yours.

No comments: