Light show still goes on as a tribute to late wife

LABOUR OF LOVE: Mike Lammas and his light display at Forest Lake, Hamilton.
LABOUR OF LOVE: Mike Lammas and his light display at Forest Lake, Hamilton.

A Hamilton truckie is keeping up a tradition, writes Matt Bowen.

For the past 10 years 60-year-old Mike Lammas has been decorating his house in Christmas lights. But this will be the first year he has done it alone.

His wife Pauline was 23 when they married, and she was 57 when she died on September 8 of chronic obstructive lung disease.

"She bloody well hated Christmas," Mr Lammas said, while standing on his deck in the weeknight darkness.

"She did, but [the lights] she absolutely loved. To be honest, this was our only real shared interest. We'd sit down every weekend and do Christmas lights. And I think that's the reason why I'm still doing it."

It's the 10th year they've gone up.

It started with a single string so Mrs Lammas could feel the festive spirit.

One wasn't enough though, and they bought five. Now there are hundreds.

On the verandah ceiling is an organised chaos of multi-plugs, wires and twink labels.

On the floor lies box upon carton upon tool of Christmas light paraphernalia.

But from the road, all you can see is dazzle.

Mrs Lammas was the driving force behind the lights and in years past she'd sit on the lawn with her granddaughter and a bulb tester and, one by one, she'd check each tiny light.

Everything had to be perfect.

"You couldn't put a string up with one bulb out," Mr Lammas said

"She would do all the hard yard stuff and I'd put the lights up.

"If there was anything broken she'd fix it."

It hasn't been easy for the truck driver.

One day he was clambering about on the roof in his jandals in the rain securing strings when he slipped and fell. With a crook back he wondered whether it was worth it.

Ropes snapped and the wind tossed things about, but every weekend from October was spent on the lights.

One night, kids even snuck in and cut some wiring.

"I thought, ‘I'm not going any further'," Mr Lammas said, and then a tear rolls down his cheek .

"My wife wanted it. She started it before she got sick and all this is for her this year. She's not here to see it but I carried on for her. I wouldn't have done it otherwise. I just didn't feel like it."

Other years were happier.

It was a Saturday and Mr and Mrs Lammas were busy with the display when they noticed a boy and a girl sitting on the grass verge across Walsh St, watching.

There was a big reindeer on the lawn and the siblings walked over and asked to have a closer look.

Sure, was the answer.

"The next day we got a knock at the door," Mr Lammas says.

"This little girl and boy had gone home and made a Christmas card saying, ‘Thank you very much for letting us see your lights'.

"Pauline always said to me that we do what the unfortunate can't do and if they get some benefit from what we do, we'll just carry on doing it. Pauline was a people person in the sense that she loved to see them smile."

Waikato Times