Family's Christmas Tradition Has Brightened Neighborhood for 35 Years

Lori and Bill Beach decorate a tree with Christmas lights.
Family’s annual Christmas decorations bring joy to the neighborhood.

The holidays are a time for spending quality moments with family, eating delicious home-cooked meals and goodies and setting up treasured decorations for everyone to enjoy.

That’s an understatement for Lori and Bill Beach, who have been putting up their annual Christmas lights display for over 35 years—just as long as they have been married. “I’ve always enjoyed decorating,” Lori says. “Christmas is my favorite holiday.”

Lori was drawn to Christmas from an early age, explaining that, as a child, it was always her favorite holiday. Her love of Christmas never faltered and continued to grow as she became an adult, especially when she gained more experience in decorating. “One of my first jobs was working at Bachman’s main store, and that’s where I really got the knack,” she says.

And it almost seems too perfect that Bill proposed to her by hiding the engagement ring in a Christmas tree. “He surprised me,” Lori says. “He made it into a little package, into an ornament, and hung it on the tree in the back. And had me go over there and said, ‘Your present is under the tree.’”

Beach Christmas lights

Lori and Bill make it a tradition each year to work together to make the house look magical. Lori’s favorite memory is setting up the Christmas lights with her husband when their children were much younger. “When my first son was little, we would always go out late at night, and carry the baby monitor with us and decorate at nighttime, when he was sleeping,” she says. “And we would keep checking on him. It was a nice time together.”

And while the children may have grown older, the tradition has stuck with the couple—minus a baby monitor. “I do most of the decorating,” Lori says. “My husband does the high ladder work. He hangs the house lights, and we do the large trees together.”

Lori is the one who plans out the design each year, and she picked up a lot of tricks from her time at Bachman’s. “It has to have balance, creativity and look neat,” she says. Beach family members change up the theme every year. Last year, they focused on having simple but beautiful white lights, but previous years, they’ve had themes focused around snowflakes, snowmen and more. “We’ve done red and white, candy canes. Sometimes, I change it up and do multi-colored,” Lori says. “Sometimes, I find one piece that I really like, and then I go with that,” One year, Lori found a big snowman head and focused her entire theme around that.

The Beaches spend about two weeks before Thanksgiving setting up the Christmas display that awes their neighbors and has won them awards in the City Holiday Lights Display Contest. “The first year we entered, we got second place. The following year, we got first place,” Lori explains. “They don’t do it anymore, or we would continue.”

Beach Christmas lights

Their passion and commitment to making their house look gorgeous is never impeded by Minnesota’s tricky and fickle weather. “One year, we were [decorating] trees on snow banks two feet high. Another year, we were putting up lights in short sleeves and shorts,” Lori says.

While they get joy from the decorations, the Beaches also relish creating the displays for their area neighbors and everyone else who comes to visit the house during the holiday season. “Hearing what their kids say and that they can’t wait to drive past it again and see what’s new. They really enjoy it,” Lori says. “And that’s what keeps me going. I know everybody likes it. And some years, I always say ‘I’m too busy. I’m not going to have time to do it,’ and everyone’s like, ‘What?’ And I just don’t want to disappoint people, so I always make time.”

The Beaches have a lighting ceremony once everything is ready and set up, and it’s an occasion that draws folks together. While their two sons—18 and 26—don’t necessarily help with decorating, they’re always at the lighting ceremony to support their parents. “We get the kids out to see the unveiling,” Lori says. “That’s my favorite because when I’m working, I just do one thing at a time and go to the next. My husband gets it all hooked up together, and it’s so great for me to see it all lit at once.”

But ultimately, Christmas is more than the lights for the Beaches; it’s about family and friends coming together. They always participate in a handful of other traditions throughout the Christmas season. “Other than just celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our family, we always do a gingerbread house. Everybody brings candy. We make one every year. We decorate it all together,” Lori says. “I always have a cookie exchange at my house for my friends and neighbors. That’s always a fun time.” It’s clear that the Beach family’s love for Christmas and the festive holiday season creates a wonderful atmosphere for the family and their neighborhood to enjoy. “It just makes you feel in the spirit of Christmas,” Lori says.