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Bringing Christmas to the Neighborhood

A home on Vista Heights Way brings bright lights to the neighborhood and Christmas cheer to all.

Keith and Stephanie Self started stepping up their Christmas decorations a few years ago with just a small goal in mind: To do something nice for their home.

But, it quickly turned into something else.

"Our neighbor, he put up a bunch of Christmas lights, and he said you all ought to put up a bunch," Keith Self said. "And, I put up a bunch of Christmas lights, and one night there was a car out in the street, and (it) was out there for a while.

"So, me, being a concerned person, I went out -- wanted to make sure they were OK. It was two ladies, a lady in her late 40s and her mother probably in her late 60s. And, they were crying.

"I said, 'Is everything OK?'" The lady looked at me, and she said, 'You just don't know how bad we needed to see something like this.'"

Self recollects that the two had just lost a loved one -- their father and husband. A self-described "tender-hearted" man, Self said the moment touched him.

The family easily has more than a dozen stories just like that. Every year more people found the house, and the decorations got bigger, and more costly. They've even put in a camera system -- just to keep an eye on things.

There's probably 150,000 individual light bulbs. The energy used to light the home is nearly maxing out how much they are allotted.

"I can't use my stove at night and have the lights running at the same time," Stephanie Self said. "I try to get everything cooked before the lights start at dark."

Being a self-employed contractor with S.W.C. Contracting, Keith Self has been able to use his know-how to make sure the major decorations are secured and framed, lit and that the music playing in the yard is timed to the big show. (People can tune into the Selfs' personal FM station, 94.7 to listen to the music as they enjoy the decorations.

Now, three years in the Selfs spends an inordinate amount of time on the year project. Friends and family also stop by to help. They buy lights and other needed items off season to save money.

And, by the end of September they are rummaging through everything trying to get things organized for the big reveal. By the end of October, they are usually done putting everything out and ready to slip the switch by the first week of Thanksgiving.

All total, it's probably 15 hours a week for a month. "Probably, underestimating that," said Stephanie Self, who her husband credits as his biggest help in getting everything up and running.

They keep the decorations up into the new year.

"It's really a blessing for us," Keith Self said. "We get to touch other people's lives just by doing something so simple."

He added: "When, I first did it, it was cool Christmas lights. Never really thought how it really encourages a lot of folks. I don't know how. I just know it does.

"I guess it's Christ in the season, I guess. I don't know how else to put it."

While bringing so much attention to their home, the Selfs thought it also would be good to start a toy drive along with the decoration display. Now, passers-by can drop off toys at their home. The family will then donate them to needy families through their church and a women's shelter.

Stephanie Self, who grew up in Lilburn, is pretty much like her husband in her enthusiasm for bringing the Christmas spirit to the neighborhood.

"It really makes me feel good when I look outside and see people," she said. "It justs, it just really makes you feel good."

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Where: The home is located at 3442 Vista Heights Way, Lilburn

When: From Nov. 9 until Jan. 5, from dusk until 11 p.m. There will be a special appearance by Mr. and Mrs. Claus on Dec. 8 and 9 from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. for children.

Toy Donations: Unwrapped toys are accepted.

Facebook: Find out more information about S.W.C. Contracting the light display on the company's Facebook page.

Other: Donations are accepted to offset the cost of the decorations and energy to light them. Contact S.W.C. Contracting, which specializes in roofing, electrical work, remodeling and other construction-type work, for more information. Call them at 404-271-2527.

stephanie self November 22, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Come on by and see them. It blesses us to see cars outside. We are still adding lights we can't help our-self. We will be collecting toys till Dec 21 any toys after will be going to the Shelter. God Bless

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