MILLSAP — Jeff Edwards strolled down his driveway as dusk began falling and pointed to his large side lawn, across a string of twinkly Christmas lights running the length of the drive.
“This is the zoo side over here,” he said, noting the inflated penguins and polar bears swaying gently on their lawn tethers. Nutcracker soldiers stood guard for the critters.
Behind Edwards, in his large front yard, another menagerie had risen to its nightly life. Newly inflated Santas, “Toy Story” characters and snowmen predominated, with The Grinch and his mean grin in their midst.
Mickey, standing 14.5 feet tall, and his Disney pals were there. So was a new find this year for Edwards, the leg lamp from the 1983 holiday farce, “A Christmas Story.”
Dusk deepened, and the main yard and Edwards’ house began to come alive with a light show synchronized with Christmas tunes wafting from a speaker.
“There’s, like, six timers,” Edwards said. “Nobody’s ever finished. It’s a work in progress.”
He should know. Edwards has outfitted his home like this for 25 years, including at an earlier residence on Farm-to-Market Road 113.
Edwards and his wife, Donna, have been joined in yule yarding the past 10 or so years by their next-door neighbors, Tammy and Teddy White, whose yard isn’t quite as crowded as the Edwards’ — but it’s getting there.
This year’s treasure might be the antique Santa Tammy White picked up in Fort Worth.
Other neighbors along the Parker County road have added a few inflatable Christmas buddies to front yards seen by the glow from brightly lit homes.
“Once it gets dark, we have cars backed up,” Edwards said. “Everybody that’s always stopped, they just love it.”
But he doesn’t fill the yard with Christmas characters to be a show-off.
“If I lived 100 miles off the road, I’d decorate,” he said.
The Edwards began their holiday tradition while their two children were little.
“My parents had always decorated for Christmas,” the dad said. “So we had kids and started decorating.”
There are tricks to the trade, and hazards as well, as the Edwards and Whites venture into Lowe’s, Home Depot or any store with a Christmas aisle.
This year’s hazard? Drum roll … the supply chain that, thanks to COVID, kept the pickin’s slim.
“I finally found a Rudolph,” Tammy White said, wearing a T-shirt declaring, “My Favorite Color is Christmas Lights.”
A tip: the Edwards’ Christmas Eve tradition includes scoping out the stores to see what could be discounted the morning after Christmas.
“Six o’clock the next morning,” Donna Edwards specified.
Her husband said he tries to get going each year by the end of October. When does he take it all down?
“Uuumm, the whole goal is to have it down and packed up by the end of January,” he replied, and looked toward the Whites’ yard. “If they are going to leave theirs up longer, I can’t take mine down. … That’s the worst part of all of it, is taking it down.”