Milford family honors late grandmother with ‘display of misfit decorations’
MILFORD, Maine — For nearly a decade, the LeBlanc family in Milford has kept up a decades-old tradition of transforming their home off the County Road into a massive Christmas lights spectacle for the community.
Tyler LeBlanc knows no other way to celebrate the holiday season. Since the death of his grandmother, Agnes Whitcomb, in 2011, he’s maintained the ritual of setting up the elaborate winter wonderland display of decorations the family has inherited over the years.
Driving up to the LeBlancs’ house is like entering a new dimension, which his mother calls, “The display of misfit decorations.”
Lighted snowmen were planted side by side in the grass, surrounded by a seemingly endless supply of lifesize candy canes and shimmering snowflakes. At the opposite end of the yard, a glowing sign with the phrase, “Believe in the magic of Christmas,” sat in the garden.
Both new and restored antique decorations were featured in the display, some made in the 1960s, which the family has preserved over time.
If Santa Claus were ever to make a pit stop during his Christmas Eve journey, he’d be sure to visit the LeBlancs’ house. They had transformed their front lawn into a winter wonderland experience unlike any other — but it didn’t happen overnight.
Tyler LeBlanc said that his family has been putting on their Christmas lights display for many years, slowly adding to the collection after every season. As a child, he loved the holiday and was enthralled watching his grandmother set up her treasured decorations.
“She would shop all year getting us gifts … my whole family would gather at her house to have a Christmas dinner [and] to unwrap the gifts that had overtaken the Christmas tree and half of the living room,” he said.
In 2010, as Whitcomb was getting treatments for cancer in Boston and couldn’t make it home in time to set up her annual lights display, her grandson stepped in.
“I took it upon myself with the help of my cousin to decorate her Christmas tree and to put out her lighted reindeer in the yard … it brought joy to my grandmother when she got home to see her tree up and the Christmas lights,” LeBlanc wrote.
Amid the struggles of coping with his grandmother’s illness, the decorations provided a temporary refuge for the LeBlanc family. They could look at the lights and forget about the pain they’d endured, even if just for a moment, he explained.
A few months later, Whitcomb passed away. On the night of her funeral, LeBlanc went outside and turned on all the Christmas lights in her yard.
To this day, a lighted pink ribbon display for breast cancer awareness hangs in the front window of their house.
For close to a decade, the LeBlancs have put on their lights display for the community to enjoy, completely free of charge. Even though it costs the family an extra few hundred dollars in their electric bill each year, it’s worth it to give people some momentary joy.
“I can look at my lights and forget about everything that is going on in the world,” LeBlanc wrote. “That is why I do my light display, to bring joy and hope to people as it did for us.”