Oceanside CA— If you are planning to take a tour of the many Christmas light displays around the North County area, you will want to add, to your list, the home of Nick and Laura Joyner, 455 Avenida Canora, in Oceanside. The decorations at the home are a mix of old and new, recycled and handmade, LED and traditional lights.
“We’ve been doing this, at this house, for about 17 years,” said Laura Joyner “We actually have been decorating a lot longer than that. We got started doing this in another Oceanside neighborhood. Every year they had a Christmas light contest and it was always nice to see. Just about everyone was involved. It was nice to just drive down the street and see numerous houses lit. I love it. Unfortunately, our neighbors on either side of us just say; What’s the point. which is a shame.”
Laura is a cancer survivor and is currently fighting a debilitating auto-immune disease. “Even though she suffers from so much pain, she still continues to put up her lights every single year because she says it is the one thing that makes her forget about her pain and brings her joy.” said Torrey Joyner, one of Lauras three daughters.
Laura has no idea how many lights she puts up every year and the number increases each season. All of the lights are on five, 15amp electrical circuits. “We’ve made a huge shift to LED but even with those lights, we still have to be careful. Someone turns on a hair dryer upstairs at nighttime, half the display will go out. There is no way we could have this many lights without the LED strands. We have so many more lights stored in back but we will need to add a sixth circuit.”
Laura said they learned their lesson about having too many lights. “We moved to Key West, Florida for a while and there we had a big cactus we decorated for Christmas. We caught it on fire with those big C-9 lights. That was my first mishap with the lights.”
There are different themes to areas of the yard and house. A traditional section with warm red, green and gold lights around the front door. A “wonder wall” area by the garage that was designed by one of her daughters, Cheyenne, a UCSB student. An arctic area featuring penguins and a polar bear.
The Candy themed area, like all of the themes, features a lot of homemade decorations using repurposed materials such as fresh produce containers to make lighted, old-fashioned wrapped candy. The giant ice cubes in the polar region are actually styrofoam containers that her IV medicine arrives in. “We use to do a lot more of the homemade things but with my health, we can’t do that anymore.”, explained Laura.
The lights are a varied combination of traditional, red, green, blue, orange, purple and unique colors you won’t find anywhere else. Warm pastel pinks, blues and greens. “Bulb, by bulb, by bulb, we painted each one with nail polish. It seems to last years and we can create colors you just can’t buy.” Laura added. “There are some new colors available you can get online.”
Amazingly, Laura’s feet never leave the ground when hanging the lights, even the coconuts on top of the palm tree and the lights along the roofline. “We don’t use a ladder. I use a giant pole to hang everything. We get clever and figure out ways to do it. To not kill ourselves, it takes about a month to decorate for Christmas. We can do it in three weeks if everyone is working.”
A display like this is a year-round endeavor. She uses the internet and shops a lot of the stores and thrift shops, after Christmas, to get things for next season. “There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. In October, we begin the repairs. That really isn’t enough time. I should start in September to get things the way I really want.”
“My daughters, Cheyenne, Summer, and Torrey, are such a big part of this. Cheyenne will come down from college on the weekends and make sure everything is perfect. She has to have it be just like last year. We can add to it but everything else needs to stay the same.”
The house is nice to drive by but you are cheating yourself if you don’t get out of the car and walk around the displays to check out all the painstaking detail throughout.
Two-dimensional photographs can’t do the display, which has so much depth to it, justice. Click on any image to enlarge the photo.