A family who have reached a 10-year milestone for their festive light displays have said they are “glad we can still continue to provide a bit of magic over the Christmas period”.
Michelle Pulis, 45, husband Ian, 45, and their two children – Oliver, 16, and Stanley, 13 – have gained a reputation in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, for their Christmas displays.
“We are known as ‘the Christmas lights house’,” Mrs Pulis, who is a current accounts manager, told the PA news agency.
Thousands of lights cover the family’s home as part of the displays they have made or put together.
“Our whole front garden is turned into a Christmas scene,” Mrs Pulis said.
“The grass area is covered in a blanket of snow and we’ve got a North Pole scene which we’ve built out of scaffold. I say ‘we’, but it is mainly my husband.
“We’ve also got a homemade Jerusalem/Nazareth display with baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph and loads of animals coming to see him.
“On the garage driveway, we have light-up animals, which are covered in snow, and my husband has also made and painted six really big life-sized wooden boards of Disney characters in a winter theme.”
Mr Pulis, who is an engineer, also made a “huge” Lego-style display out of polystyrene and expanding foam in the garage, which has a snow theme and includes a train track.
Mrs Pulis said the display is “everyone’s favourite” because of the train.
Mr Pulis’s father Lino – who is 75 and is now retired, but was a carpenter – has also contributed to the family’s festive offering with a Nazareth scene made using polystyrene and expanding foam.
The family switched on the lights officially on November 25 and plan to turn them off on Boxing Day.
They keep the lights on for five hours each day from 4.30pm, and Mrs Pulis said local businesses have helped to ensure they can continue as increasing energy prices and the cost of living have made it “difficult”.
She said preparation for the switch-on starts in October and is a “family affair”.
“My husband learnt an awful lot of skills from his father who was a carpenter by trade,” Mrs Pulis said.
“My husband’s quite a dab hand at doing all the lights now and my oldest son has watched him so many times over the years and goes out there with the drill and gets all stuck in.
“My younger son helps with all the Lego buildings, so it is very much a family affair.”
On the 10-year milestone, Mrs Pulis said: “I don’t think we quite envisioned at the time what we took on, because now we’re really famous round our way where people just expect us to do our lights, and it has just got bigger and bigger.
“Now, each year we think we can’t not do it because we’ve got all the lights already, so it would be silly not to, but I don’t think we ever envisioned going on for all these years.
“We are glad we can still continue to provide a bit of magic over the Christmas period.”
Money raised goes to Rennie Grove Peace Hospice Care, which has a special connection for Mrs Pulis.
“When we first did the lights, we had a few people turn up and suggest we do it for charity,” she said.
“In 2011, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and it was a massive shock as there was no family history.
“When I was getting all my treatment done at St Albans Hospital, Rennie Grove were based within the hospital grounds and one of the breast care nurses suggested I go over and just have a chat as they offer services like counselling and support for all the family.
“Because I went there and they supported me, we then chose Rennie Grove – so it’s sort of a very special charity to me and my family.”
Mrs Pulis got the all-clear in 2012 after six months of chemotherapy and three months of radiotherapy.
Pascale Harvie, president and general manager of JustGiving, said: “It’s heart-warming to see so many communities across the country coming together to spread joy through festive light displays, especially when so many official events have been cancelled again this year.”
The fundraising link can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/michelle-pulis-1699901131335?