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By Mindy Crandall
Christmas is love, Christmas is laughter and Christmas is filled with smiling children and happy ever-after.
No doubt, this is the true feeling of Joe and Jan Cox, a couple who decided to purchase a house on a nice sized city lot in the beautifully manicured subdivision of Rainbow Ridge. For the last six years, it’s been their love of Christmas that has inspired them to spend many dedicated hours decorating their home and yard with Christmas décor and lights. Over this duration of time, many curious and inquisitive faces have lit up with the joy of seeing this presentation of lights glimmer and sparkle with such hope. A child quickly gets lost in it all!
Over the years, the exhibition of colors have grown to become more than just a show, but a visit from Santa as well. And in the last two years, a mailbox has been set up for Santa letters.
Early Tuesday evening, I decided to see the sight for myself and perhaps to spend some time with Santa. I was successful! As I turned onto Y Highway and took the first road to the right, the spirit of Christmas quickly consumed me as several on their street had houses decorated. Their house was a short drive up the street and the location was perfect for viewing.
Normally I pass by this cozy, corner as a means for a short cut to Wal-Mart, but this time it was for pure entertainment. Their house could be seen from busy Highway 5. Unlike the Griswald’s, the Cox home was tastefully embellished.
As slowly as possible, I pulled into the driveway lined with bright shining candy canes good enough to eat. The instant I stepped out, I began to feel like a child again. It was automatic – my heart was warming while my eyes tried to capture every inch of glowing wonder. There was so much to take in! The music filled my ears and comforted my soul. It was definitely Christmas around here and as animated as a circus performance.
My first step was towards the door. A white, plastic lawn chair sat empty, but I knew that was where Santa usually waved with great splendor.
One knock at the door, and I was immediately greeted by Jan and Joe Cox. Once I stepped in, it was as if the outdoor theme was brought to life indoors. Every wall was adorned with Christmas greetings. Santas and snowmen were of every size. More than one tree beautifully stood presenting its elegance for all to see through the windows in which they were precisely placed. Stockings hung by the chimney with care, but this time not with the hope that St. Nick would be there. Several rooms within the home were beaming with Christmas grandeur. Of course, the Nativity Scene was present as the reminder of what this days festivities are all about.
While talking to Joe and Jan, my eyes couldn’t help but wonder outside to the mesmerizing lights and the many cars slowing down to take such a peek. An overstuffed recliner sat to the right of the picture window, a place often visited by Jan as she watches her husband play Santa, passing out candy, talking to children and offering the idea of writing jolly, old St. Nick.
The kitchen table played host to many Santa letters already received this year. I was amazed at the time and diligence, which Joe placed on this activity – reading every letter, filling out a card to return and giving each a “Santa stamp of approval”. He doesn’t make promises to the things they ask for, but instead offers laughter and insight to the Santa life. Joe beamed with excitement as he discussed some of last year’s letters. He will quickly admit that he has received more of a blessing from those children who participate than he has ever given by doing this. He has received letters from as far away as Iowa and as close as Ava, Mansfield and Seymour.
One letter in particular caught the attention of Joe. A family had written with a plea for help. He felt compelled to honor their wish. Quickly he gathered toys for the children and asked for assistance from others he knew. Soon the mother’s wish became reality and all who were involved received the satisfaction of the giving of one’s self to help another. A true Christmas blessing.
Last year’s letters are now neatly placed in scrapbooks, a total of 35 in all. And so far this year, he has received just as many.
Joe’s work has not gone unnoticed. Several others have been impressed with his personal sacrifice in giving. Many have brought forth new toys and stuffed animals to give to the children he meets. He doesn’t ask for donations, but appreciates those who feel the spirit of Christmas living within them as well.
As for the decorations, I couldn’t believe that for every one that was proudly displayed they could offer an explanation as to where it came from and who gave it. Each held a special meaning.
I enjoyed my visit with Joe and Jan and I was impressed with their generosity. For a man to receive no more than a cup of hot chocolate or a plate of cookies for his efforts, but still dedicate his time every night to playing Santa just to watch children smile, earns a great big star in my book.
Joe and Jan, thank you for warming the hearts of others. Even though there is no longer a “Best Decorated House” award to win through the Chamber, I still give you one personally! And yes, we all know, you were too tough competition to beat!
And for all those children still waiting to meet Santa, he’s here in town! And to let you in on a little secret, I heard next year that Mrs. Claus might join in on all the reindeer fun!
This Christmas take time to understand the true meaning of it all! It began with God’s love for us!
Christmas is love, Christmas is laughter and Christmas is definitely filled with smiling children and happy ever-after thanks to compassionate people like Joe and Jan.