Family lights up home to honor relative, illuminates community at same time

Published 8:57 am Monday, December 30, 2019

While many households will set up lights in celebration of the holidays, one family in Carter County carries personal significance to the lights they put up. What might seem a bit too much for the small neighborhood carries the memory of cherished loved ones, as well as love for the community who adores them as much as they do.

Brimer Road itself is barely wide enough to fit two cars side-by-side, but the house atop the hill has become a hot destination for many in the county, particularly his neighbors. For Daniel Vines, though, the lights he puts up are as much for his family as they are for his community at large.

Vines said he has been putting up the lights and decorations for roughly six years.

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“It started when my brother set up some crosses,” Vines said.

His brother died in 2013 from cancer, and in the following years, Vines kept putting up the crosses in his honor. The tradition, though, soon became larger than that.

Today, dozens of displays and light patterns adorn almost every inch of the hill that marks his front lawn.

Decorations range from simple displays of Santa to more elaborate and fancier ones like Toy Story. The displays themselves have become a form of community involvement, as members of the neighborhood typically make requests to see specific lights. This year’s Toy Story addition came from his grandchildren.

Some of these require more work than others to find.

“I will go online and check out some of the stores,” he said. “I have looked all the way in Knoxville for some.”

These decorations have become more than a one-person job. Members of his family help him get started with the set-up around Halloween, as the dozens of little trees alone, more than 30, can take about an hour per tree to get ready. Wires crisscross through his front yard to connect the dozens of displays to the outlets they need.

“We were lucky to get them all up before Thanksgiving,” Vines said.

Seeing his grandchildren’s faces light up as they help with the decorations, he said, makes the experience worth it.

“All the ones I care about seeing are the girls right here,” he said. “They are God’s future.”

His grandchildren are not the only people who enjoy his displays, however. In the evenings, he said there will be a line of cars eager to see the lights on his front yard.

He said there is a girl farther down the street whose bedroom window faces the lights. She has a bone disease, and he said every night she peeks from the blinds in her window, waiting for the lights to come on.

“When the holidays come along, people really miss [the lights],” he said.

Given the amount of effort that goes into them, Vines said he is already planning next year’s decorations, but he did not share any details.

“You get enjoyment and love for the children around you,” he said.

Vines said other than keeping up the tradition for his brother’s sake, he does it so he can give his grandchildren a wonderful holiday.

“It is all about the kids,” he said. “I love kids, and I love Christmas.”

Even with all the new decorations every year, he said his favorite are the three crosses on the far back of the displays, right next to the house.

“These will go up every year in remembrance of him,” Vines said.

He said his love for his grandchildren, his brother and his community will motivate him to keep doing the lights for as long as he possibly can.

“I love it, they love it,” Vines said. “I will do it until the day I die.”