Couple keeps holiday lights up year-round

neighbors on fence

December 05, 2010|By Tiffany Arnold, The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown

Anyone who has ever wondered what kind of people leave their Christmas lights up all year, meet the Morgans, the kind of neighbors you'll either love or hate.

About seven years ago, Mary and Richard Morgan decided they weren't going to take down their Christmas lights.

Ever.

Traditionalists — those appalled at the thought of putting up Christmas lights any sooner than Thanksgiving and leaving them up beyond New Year's — would probably consider what the Morgans have done as something akin to sacrilege.

Drive down the 500 block of Summit Avenue after dark — any month of the year — and you'll see a glowing Santa steering his sleigh pulled by reindeer from the Morgan family's roof. The uppermost level of the home is topped by a fully-lit Christmas tree (which Robert Morgan said survived the Snowpocalypse of early 2010) that illuminates the night sky.

The only thing the Morgans intend to remove are chewed-up cords, victims of hungry squirrels, and blown-out bulbs.

The lights began as an act of defiance.

"Blame The Herald-Mail for us leaving them up all this time," joked Richard Morgan, a 65-year-old computer programmer. "The first year we had them up, someone called Mail Call between Christmas and New Year's, not even waiting until New Year's, saying, 'Christmas is over, it's time to take your lights down.' We left them up just to spite whoever called."

More comments streamed in thereafter, demanding that those "people on Summit Avenue" take down the lights.

"I'm a fanatic on Christmas. I love Christmas," said Mary Morgan, 63. "The way I look at it, with me and my emphysema and all, I never know when I'm going to take my last breath. I'm going to enjoy what I want to enjoy."

That's the reason you'll find remnants of holiday decorations all over the couple's home. "Just like my redbirds there that sing Christmas carols," said Mary Morgan, pointing to a trio of cardinals near the TV in her sitting room. "I keep that out all year."

They'd have more Christmas decorations up in the house, but their pets would likely destroy them. They have three dogs and three cats.

So just how does the family that keeps its Christmas decorations up all year celebrate Christmas? By getting the biggest turkey they can find and hosting a big meal for family, friends and godchildren who call the Morgans Grandpa and Grandma.

"Before I started having ill health, my house was so crowded at mealtime [that] people ate on the couch, they ate in the kitchen, they ate in the dining room," Mary Morgan said. "Wherever they could sit with their plate, that's where they sat."

Both Richard and Mary were both married twice before. Combined, they have eight children, though they don't have any children together.

They're expecting to preserve the Christmas dinner tradition and continue the tradition of keeping the Christmas lights up year round.

The lights are timed to come on at around dusk and go off at around 10:30 p.m.

The Morgans said they've not had any major encounters with neighbors, though they have received complaints that the lights shine into neighbors' windows at night, making it hard for their kids to sleep.

"They can close their drapes," Mary Morgan said.

Other neighbors, the Morgans said, have sent cards saying that the lights put them in a good mood when they were feeling down.

"Christmas lights have a special meaning," Mary Morgan said. "They symbolize brightness, love. That's what Christmas is about. If people could put that into their hearts, the whole year round instead of just one day a year, a lot of things would be different in the world."

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