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The Madera Tribune

Lighting up the holidays

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webmaster | 12/04/04

Ellen and John Bryan “threw in the towel” last Friday. Not the dirty dish towel used to clean up a post Thanksgiving dinner. Try the “you win, we give up” towel used to signal Christmas exterior home décor defeat.

Said Ellen, through a wide grin: “That guy is like a little kid.”

Said Jeanne Bryan, the wife of “that guy,” through a wider grin: “A neighbor told him he’s Clark Griswold,” the hands-on-hips proud, Christmas decorating father of National Lampoon’s Christmas flicks.

“That guy” is Jim Bryan, dental technician by day, Christmas home décor technician by night and weekend.

“I love this season,” said Jim. He starts decorating in early November.

Jim, who works at Lab Man Dental Lab, and Jeanne live on the north side of Yosemite Avenue, in the 500 block. In their front yard, about 25 Christmas decorative arrangements sit, stand, blink and shine. Those decorations have been up since early November, but always are lighted officially the day after Thanksgiving, at about 6 p.m., when Jim holds his annual “Lighting Ceremony.”

Last Friday, Jim invited his brother John, a dentist, and his wife Ellen over for the ceremony. Ellen and John walked a few block to Jim’s house - they also live on the north side of Yosemite Avenue, a couple blocks west of Jim and Jeanne’s home. Outside, the four adults stood alongside two of Jim’s six children, 17-year-old Jacob and 8-year-old Danny, to see the lights turn on.

Minutes before flipping on the switch of the 20-amp power breaker, Jim made sure everything was just right. He checked the five power outlets in the front yard, making sure each of the four connections to those was secure. He made sure the two 100-foot electrical cable extensions were secured to the outlets in back of the home. “I have at least 200 pounds of extension (cables),” said Jim. Then, as each person stood outside, Jim flipped the switch. Jim smiled broadly and said, “I just stood there and gazed at it,” the one-man-made spectacle.

Typically Jim decorates his home by himself, and doesn’t mind doing so.

“I get into it,” he said.

Which likely means: He enjoys Christmas decorating more than the average person.

Danny, his youngest child, “followed me around,” helping with the lights this year. Jacob, a senior in high school, doesn’t have the time, said the beaming father who speaks highly of his sons and family. And about Jeanne, he said, “She’s so supportive; she puts up with a lot!” he laughs.

No wonder.

“He was this way when we were in San Jose,” said Jeanne, chuckling. Jim and Jeanne have lived in Madera for two years and will be experiencing their third Christmas here. She said her husband has been decorating since they lived in San Jose, maybe even before then. She said, years ago he’d only decorate the roof’s edges with lights. Eventually he graduated to using small accessories. Then the dutiful decorator moved on to bigger and better accessories, ones that canvass much of their front yard, such as this year’s decorations: 11 white plastic light-up trees, four sidewalk-to-door arches choked by lights, bushes and trees wrapped in lights, holiday ceramics nestled among hedges and hiding near shrubs, a wreath and garland on the upstairs porch. Oh, not to forget Jim’s most favorite decoration: Nativity, with glowing figurines covered by a recently fashioned home-made stable.

Next on his list of decorations to acquire are movable angels.

Recently he saw them in a Target store in Southern California. “I figured they’d be in a Target here, but they’re not,” said Jim. He laughs, smiles and plows ahead. “I’ll find something else.”

He probably will.

“He’s a little funny that way,” said Ellen.

“I’ve got the best house in Madera,” said Jim. “I have to decorate it!”


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