The Christmas Light-house Keeper

The Christmas Lighthouse Keeper

In memory of Douglas Musson, September 25, 1935 – December 18, 2017.

The Christmas star shines like a beacon above the luminescent nativity scene that is the centrepiece of Douglas Musson’s annual light display.

Doug and Joanne have been decorating their Spruce Avenue home in Burlington’s Roseland neighbourhood from the late 1970’s, after relocating their family from Calgary. “That’s where I got the idea of putting lights on the house,” said Doug. “There was a subdivision that the builder used to wrap several show homes with lights.”

Doug started with just a few lights, then put a sleigh and reindeer on the roof, an outline around the windows, and eventually wrapped the entire front of the house.

And in the early 1980’s, he started fabricating his own displays. “My son bought me a welding outfit.” Doug quickly put it to good use building frames for the lights. “The first one I made was Puff the Magic Dragon. Then I started adding the others; the melting snowman, the soldiers and the castle, and the nativity scene which is the most important part, for me anyway.” Next came the arches and the gingerbread house, the dinosaur and the egg. And Santa Claus complements the custom light display, projected on a screen and waving at the window.

After losing their son Cam in a May 1998 motorcycle crash, the Mussons were unsure as to what to do for Christmas that year. Ultimately, Doug resolved to make a motorcycle display in Cam’s honour. Fashioning a  full-sized image of a Harley-Davidson, Doug used it as a guide while bending and welding the steel frame into shape, which he used to support the rope lights.

Doug has tried to build a new display piece each year, with the latest being the hippopotamus popping out of a box. In his 83rd year, he now does less of the set-up work. “We all kind of pitch in together however my son Scott does most of it now,” said Doug.

The Musson’s often receive notes thanking them for the light display, and Doug shared a letter that arrived on December 11th:

I have lived my whole life in Burlington, and remember as a small child being brought to your Christmas display and how amazed I was at all the lights; now I bring my children to see your house.

Christmas is sometimes hard for us due to financial issues but we all get together as a family and make our way there. All we need is each other and the Christmas spirit you provide for everyone. God bless you and your family and thank you so very much. Merry Christmas.

“Every year we get a bunch of them like that–the lights are part of their Christmas tradition,” said Doug. “And that’s what makes it worthwhile for us.”

But not everyone has always been happy with their efforts, in fact 5 years ago a petition went around seeking to have the lights turned off, citing traffic concerns. The matter ended up in the hands of Burlington city council. The lights had been on for over 35 years, and many people wrote to say how much they appreciate the lights, and how much it is a part of their Christmas. The 7 council members in attendance at the meeting voted unanimously in support of keeping the lights on.

“Christmas is about giving to others,” said Doug, “and I don’t have much to give but I can give this.”

Backyard display

About the Author

Van Hansen

While Van is not allowed to sing, he is allowed to write songs and stories. Mostly stories. Published in magazines such as Canadian Aviator, Canadian Geographic, Costco Connection, Photography Monthly, and The Walrus, Van now shares with you the Profiles and everyday adventures of the People in Your Neighbourhood™, Community Spotlights, plus News & Reviews in the NEW Hansen House Blog! Van is a Certified Executor Advisor, and a Real Estate Broker with the full-service boutique brokerage Apex Results Realty Inc. in Burlington, ON.

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