ZEBULON — Just north of here, on the Wake County line, David Hockaday and his wife, Debbie Hockaday have found a way to save some money during the holidays: light up their house.
David Hockaday said his home’s decorations are how he and his wife celebrate Christmas in a time when money is tight and their sons have grown up and moved out.
“In the last few years, the economy’s been really hard on us so we don’t really do the gifting thing,” he said. “(My wife) bakes, we have several good meals and enjoy the fellowship and that’s really what it’s all about.”
The Hockadays’ Christmas lights display have been several years in the making. They’ve lived in their home for 20 years. Hockaday said this year is the biggest they’ve ever been, with a lit tree tower in the front year, lit garland on the porch bannister and three small Christmas trees inside the home.
“We like it all,” Hockaday said. “We like lots of lights. ... Ever since (my wife) Debbie and I have been married, (we’ve been) adding a little more each year.”
This year, he estimates they have somewhere between 9,000 to 10,000 individual lights on their home off River Dare Avenue. They use energy efficient lights, too, so it only adds about $50 extra to their electric bill.
Their decorating process is usually a two-day endeavor. It starts by laying out all the lights in the garage and turning them on for a few hours to make sure none are going to burn out.
That saves a trip up a ladder, Hockaday said.
After they check and repair their lights, the process of putting them up begins.
“It’s a nice family project, we just put the music on and enjoy it,” Hockaday said.
A year of planning
The Hockadays save more money on their holiday celebrations by shopping for additions to their decorations after Christmas, not before or during the height of holiday shopping. They look for clearance sales and begin planning about a year in advance.
According to David Hockaday, his wife, Debbie, has already started thinking about next year.
“Debbie wants to add another tree,” he said. “I do love live trees (and) we've got some really nice artificial trees and she's decided to put a tall one in the living room.”
Right now, they have a lit tree tower in the front yard, a small tree on their front porch, one in their living room and one in their bedroom.
While the Hockadays shop for lights, they also bring back one aspect of Christmas they’ve pared down since the economy slowed: gift-giving.
The couple doesn’t usually buy gifts for each other, but they do take advantage of after-Christmas sales, David Hockaday said.
“We'll go out and shop for each other right after Christmas, just picking up things as they go on clearance,” he said.
Although their gifting may seem small, the Hockadays spend their time during the holidays with friends and family, a much more valuable gift, Hockaday said.
“We have a lot of neighbors that come by (and) we do get together and cook and enjoy the company of some of the nighebors,” he said.
Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews