Sometimes newspapers take requests.
“You should take a picture of the amazing Christmas lights at 5316 N. Grandview Drive.”
That’s a request that the Milton Courier received by email. So, Saturday night, I, accompanied by my family went to look at a few lights.
With the mapping capabilities that phones have nowadays, it’s pretty easy to type in an address and find your destination.
But, even as you’re listening to Google give you directions, you can’t help but look ahead and when you see lights wonder, “Is that it?”
As we approached 5316 N. Grandview, there was no question that was what we were looking for. I think I even said, “Woah.” Like many outdoor lights, you need to see this for yourself. By “this,” I mean a weeping willow tree decorated with 20 strands of 300 lights.
How did they get those lights like that?
I know because I made a phone call to the Gordon and Jennifer Markham family at 5316 N. Grandview and asked.
“We like to keep everyone guessing but we stay on the ground,” Gordon said.
Without any prodding, he shared more: “It’s actually quite old-fashioned. It’s just a string and a weight and a couple heave-hos of the string to get it up there – and hopefully it gets in the spot you want it. And if it doesn’t, you try it again.”
“When we first started decorating the willow tree like that it would take us three, maybe four days to get the lights up in the tree,” Jennifer said.
Now, with nine years of experience, Jennifer said they can get the job done in a day.
How they decorate the willow tree and other areas of the font yard has changed a little each year.
“Over the years, we’ve tried different stuff,” said Gordon. “It just kind of evolves every year.”
But every year, Jennifer said, “We like to go all out.”
According to Jennifer, Gordon does most of the work, she assists and this year their children: Jean-Marie, 15, AJ, 12, and Makenzie, 7, helped out.
Gordon references a pear tree with white lights by the garage and maple tree by the road with colored lights.
“The kids and I just created a tool with some stuff we had laying around to get the lights up that high,” Gordon said. “It’s just finding ways to make things happen.”
At this point, they’re not sure how many colored lights they have on display.
They do know, however, that each year they lose four or five strings of white lights because they get broken.
“One year the deer nibbled on some of the string,” Jennifer added.
Although some people may not know the Grandview neighborhood even exists, the Markham home in past years has been a tour bus stop for holiday decorations.
From a rest area off the Interstate, the Markhams have been able to see their lights. Even though they live in a secluded area, they think sometimes people come looking for the lights that they can see from a distance.
“The willow tree is a big part of our yard,” Jennifer said. “It’s nice to showcase it in the wintertime. It’s something different that you just don’t see.”
And their oldest, Jean-Marie really loves Christmas.
Each year when she’s asked in November what she wants for her Dec. 20 birthday, Gordon said she replies “lots of lights outside.”
“To have her birthday wish be that kind of inspires us to keep going at it,” he said.
For him, he said it’s easy to do.
“She loves it and made it part of her persona and who she is,” he added.
The family leaves the lights up until Epiphany (Jan. 6). Lights on the willow tree stay up longer, often until Valentine’s.
“It’s a lot of work,” Jennifer said. “You like to enjoy it.”
After taking photos on Grandview Drive on Saturday, we saw another house at 2527 E. Pleasant Road worth noting and took photos. It turns out it’s Johnson family home – and the home of the person who sent us an email suggesting we take a photo.
In the town of Harmony, there are lights that are grand and pleasant and worth seeing.