Years ago, Juanita Garcia made a promise to herself, and to her husband, Francisco, that one day their home would be one of the most beautiful in town, decked with beautiful decorations and Christmas lights.
The Garcias’ start in that direction came 14 years ago, with a single wreath on the door.
Now, the little house on Home Street is like a Christmas wonderland, provoking “o-o-o-h’s” and “a-h-h-h’s” from those who pass by on North Austin. Deer and snowmen, candy canes and gingerbread boys, candles and a lighted Nativity fill the yard and drive around the home.
They would like to find a little train, like the city’s display near the train museum, but haven’t found one yet. Year by year, the display grows, and it’s never the same two years in a row. Juanita plans for 10 months of the year, what that year’s will be. Then, just after Halloween, the decorating begins. It takes all of November to set up the displays.
In between the end of December and the start of the next November, Juanita and Francisco keep adding to the collection of scenes. Their daughter, Lorena, who was 7 when her parents hung the first wreath and is 21 now, helps her mother shop for new things on the Internet. After Christmas, the family will shop the sales to find bargains. In the summer there will be garage sales, and usually those will yield some good buys.
Juanita Garcia is originally from Mexico, and only speaks a little English, though she understands much more. Francisco interprets for her and translates her answers into English.
“For my wife and I — we’re so happy so many people come and enjoy our home. We are glad when they get out of their cars to get a better look. It makes us happy when people tell us our home is beautiful,” Francisco said.
“Sometimes my wife doesn’t feel well, and sometimes it is very cold, but she goes out and puts up the decorations no matter what. When she’s done, she goes out where she can see it all, and it makes her so happy — so happy the tears run down her cheeks.”
Juanita and Francisco have been married 22 years and besides Lorena have a 13-year-old son, Carlos.
Francisco said that even though Juanita plans how the decorations will be placed, the first few years it was his job to see that the wiring and electrical hookups were in place. But, he said, Juanita watched what he did and now, she is as capable as he is.
“I work nights and sleep in the day, but my wife doesn’t wait, she works and works until it is all out,” he said.
And keeping the lights bright throughout the season isn’t always easy.
“One year everything will be OK,” Francisco said. “The next year, there will be problems, and we will work and work, always replacing bulbs. The upkeep is hard.
“But we do it because it makes us so happy to do it.”
Francisco said they leave the lights lit until midnight on Christmas Eve and Christmas night, but by the end of the week they’ll start taking them down, and Juanita will begin planning for next year. She’s heard about a specialty store in the Metroplex, and would like to go there to shop the after-Christmas sales.
“So far we’ve been lucky, we haven’t had anyone steal the decorations, but we have to be careful. We always ask the police to watch, and then we see them pass by very slow in their cars. They keep watch, and we’re thankful.”