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Christmas, inside and out
The brightest spot in the city might be the warmest, too.
For 15 years, Tom and Judee Ledford have immaculately decorated their Hendrickson Road home.
Outside you’ll see their 30,000-plus lights and inside, if you’re one of the lucky few to go inside, get to see Christmas at every corner.
Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, Snoopy are all there and sometimes times in twos or threes.
“If you can tell, we like Christmas,” Tom Ledford, a retired butcher, said with a smile.
But their growing tradition hasn’t just been in Sequim. The couple started more than 45 years ago when they were married.
“We’ve always decorated,” Judee, a retired nurse, said. “It started small with a few bushes and then the roof and then from there.”
They add a little bit every year including inflatable characters, tiers of icicles on their house and continue to convert to LED lights. While their electricity bill goes up in December, Judee said she truly only asks that they pay the utility bill as her present.
All of their family loves Christmas, too.
“It’s hard to be around us and not love Christmas,” Judee said.
Family members help decorate each year including their two daughters Shari and Shannon, son Jim and daughter-in-law Rima. Jim makes a scene with lights each year, this time in a design of the mountains covered in snow (white lights), the trees (green) and water (blue). This year it’s on the dog kennel for the Ledford’s rescue dog Guinness.
The Ledford’s 7-year-old grandson Sean designed their Christmas tree this year, too, which goes up about 9.5 feet and is decorated to about the 6-foot-mark because that’s what he could reach from a chair. “And we like it this way,” Tom said.
Through the years, they’ve amassed Christmas decorations into 38 containers which takes them a few weeks to roll out.
Judee adorns her home with wall-to-wall Christmas scenes and robotic toys like saxophone playing Santa Clauses and singing Yule logs. She has so many toys it took her almost three hours to check all of the batteries.
For the outside decorations, the Star of David usually goes on their barn first and they work their way down to the ground with lights.
The Nativity scene has been secured by stakes and cinder blocks and baby Jesus is snuggled next to a brick for good reason.
Tom said high winds took baby Jesus about 10 years ago, so he bought a used doll as a replacement.
A visiting girl noticed the baby’s feet were dirty, which Tom told her the doll would play in the field with the cows every night. She returned two years later proclaiming, “His feet are still dirty,” Tom said. “And they still are.”
While the Ledfords love Christmas, the couple said decorating is not just for them.
Drivers honk politely going by in support and families pull in and stare in awe at the lights from dusk until Tom turns the lights off. He gradually leaves the lights on longer closer to Christmas and until midnight on Dec. 25 because “that’s what it’s all about,” Tom said.
One year, new neighbors moved in on Christmas Eve. The wife was sad, Tom said, because they didn’t have a Christmas tree so the husband took her to the back window and told her to take a look at the Ledfords’ house.
The man later thanked Tom for decorating and told him they parked in the Ledfords’ driveway for 20 minutes admiring the lights.
They find their home makes an impact on a number of people.
Locals walk by it everyday and one woman would come to the Nativity daily to say a prayer and another snapped a photo of it for her Christmas card.
“It gives me such a happy feeling,” Judee said of decorating. “I remember coming home from work and seeing it. I love the holiday.”
The Ledfords greet many of their visitors but they don’t have a concrete number for how many people visit. However, last year they counted more than 100 visitors who came in for a tour. Each one is tallied by signing their name on a ribbon which is sewn into a Christmas tree skirt. They’ve done this since 1998 when their friend from California crafted the first one.
Back at home
Judee said they’ve tried to keep other Christmas traditions going throughout their lives.
The tree skirts will be given to each of their children, she said, and when her children still lived with them, she would buy an extra ornament for them each year so that when they left they could decorate their own trees.
Until this year, she would host the Ladies Oriental Shrine Christmas gathering.
But Judee has been recovering after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late July. She had an operation in August and was hospitalized at Swedish Medical Center for 69 days in late October where the Ledfords celebrated their 45th anniversary at the hospital.
“The hospital people couldn’t believe how many cards we got,” Judee said.
But not even cancer could stop the Ledfords from their favorite tradition of decorating.
“We enjoy this,” Tom said. “First thing that people say to us when they recognize us is that we’re the Christmas lights people on Hendrickson Road.”
“We do this because it feels good,” Judee said.
Look for the Ledfords’ lights at 820 W. Hendrickson Road.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.