Image: Rosalind Tann
Come December, a certain corner terrace house in the USJ11 neighbourhood will shine brighter than the rest.
Home to Roland Xavier; his wife, Joyce; and their children, the tradition of decorating their house with Christmas lights began about 15 years ago at their previous home in USJ9. The decision to put up the décor first came about following the couple’s visit to a colleague’s kampung
during Diwali. “It was very dark and suddenly, I noticed a house that was decorated with strings of lights. It told me that somebody was celebrating Diwali and somehow, it brought me joy. I felt happy for them,” Roland told us. And it is this sense of happiness that he hopes to recreate for the people around his neighbourhood.
Roland, Joyce and their collection of Christmas baubles from around the world. (Image: Rosalind Tann)
Back then, the Xaviers’ décor was very simple. They had the usual strands of lights, but “we kept adding on until we ran out of space”, explained Joyce. And what do you do when you don't have enough room to play with anymore? You move to a bigger lot.
Since relocating to their current place about five years ago, the Xaviers' Christmas light show has grown more elaborate. This year, the family is taking things up a notch with a 20 feet Mega Tree. But wait, there’s more. The tree is not just some plain ‘ol display of flickering lights on poles – it boasts a computerised display that changes patterns according to the song that is being played! Enjoy this "Joy to the World" performance:
Video: Rosalind Tann
Other new additions to this year’s décor include the word “Believe”, which takes centre spot on their roof, along with displays of the Three Kings, a series of angels, plus moving coloured lights that you will notice on the outer walls of their home.
It seems the Grinch sneaked into their garden. (Image: Rosalind Tann)
While the displays, which are mostly from US, China and Malaysia, seem elaborate, they surprisingly, take the Xaviers’ electrician friend only two days to put up – usually a week after Diwali. The ideation and research stages however, require more time and brain juice, and usually kickstarts from as early as April. The headstart also allows Roland to take advantage of the US’ summer sale and source for materials at a cheaper rate.
A Christmas wonderland of sorts. (Image: Rosalind Tann)
Where the décor concept is concerned, the Xaviers stick by one rule: it has to be meaningful. Elaborating on this, Roland said, “If you go overseas, you’ll see houses bathed in lights. They are beautiful, but we want to focus on something deeper. All the decorations that we put up have a meaning to it – the Three Kings, the nativity scene, the star. We don’t want to put up lights just for the sake of it.”
Our favourite feature of the display is this Santa Claus projection. It really looks like Santa is inside! (Video: Rosalind Tann)
At this point, you’re probably wondering, “Wah, how much did all this cost?” and “His electricity bill must be very high lah
.” We, and many others, thought the same too, but Roland insisted that the cost shouldn’t be the focus. “If you see the young people who come to visit our house, they will never ask that question. They will just enjoy the lights – that’s what we want. Adults are losing a sense of wonderment. They are analysing it too much. I’m happy to share the how-to, but I never like to discuss the money.”
The decked out interior of their home. (Image: Rosalind Tann)
With such a standout house, it is no surprise then that the family is also used to having strangers taking photos in front of their home. In fact, they often drop by with thank-you gifts! Some of the treats that the Xaviers have received include donuts, fruit cakes, hand-made cards, and notes from impressed children. “It rekindles your faith in mankind. These strangers are of all races and it makes you realise how nice people can be. We feel so touched,” Roland explained.
Then there were the occassional odd encounters too. Joyce recalled a man who rang the door bell asking to be let in. When told that it is a private home, the confused stranger replied with, “Hah? Isn’t this a church?” Similarly, a woman once asked Joyce if she could come in for counselling – we don’t know why the woman would equate a brightly lit house to a counselling centre, but okay…
So if you find yourself in the USJ neighbourhood between now and right up till the 12th
day after Christmas, the Xaviers welcome you to drive by and enjoy the colourful spectacle… just don’t go ringing on their doorbell and asking to be let in.