Christmas at the Waltons in Itawamba County

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

The Waltons never really planned on turning the front yard of their Ballardsville home into a sprawling Christmas display. As is the case with most hobbies, things just kind of escalated over time.

A wooden cut out here.

A couple of inflatables there.

An outdoor speaker system that constantly blares a selection of Christmas tunes hanging above the garage. Their neighbor helped set up that one.

Before they even knew what was happening, the Waltons were the area’s kings of Christmas.

“It seems like everybody enjoys it,” Jerry said of the display, adding that they get quite a bit of passing traffic down their way … onlookers eager to see the lights.

Those who make the trip are in for a treat, too: Visitors are greeted with a line of lighted inflatables. Just beyond those, the Walton’s house is lined with white lights, their driveway flanked on one side by bright red candy canes. Stopping directly in front of their house reveals a small manger scene and the words, “Happy Birthday, Jesus” in lights.

Perhaps most unique, however, is the live Christmas tree sitting at the end of a small pier. Those who catch it at just the right angle will see its lights mirrored in the placid pond waters.

While theirs certainly isn’t the largest or most elaborate collection of lights, wooden cutouts and inflatables ever amassed, Jerry and Sue are working, slowly but surely, towards that.

What makes their house stand out, however, is the way it kind of emerges on the horizon. Visitors can see the glow in the darkness before reaching the Waltons’ home, but won’t gain the full effect until right on top of it. It makes for a pleasant surprise.

“When you top that hill, it just makes you smile,” Sue said.

And every year, numerous people top that hill. Jerry smiled and said that visitors have to work to see the display because their house isn’t exactly the easiest to find. Smack at the end of a dead-end road, the Waltons’ property is less than ideal for a large display.

People come anyway.

“They’ve really got to be wanting to see it to see it,” Jerry said with a laugh.

The same can be said of the Waltons themselves. After all, setting up a sprawling Christmas display isn’t exactly easy. They start setting up before Thanksgiving Day, which Jerry called their “big debut.”

As soon as the plates hit the sink, it’s time for the lights to come on.

“For us, that’s the official start of Christmas,” he said.

Sue tried to recall when or why they started in the first place, but couldn’t place the exact year or reason. It’s been some time, though, because the family just lost the first inflatable they ever purchased … a large snowman that was the unfortunate victim of dry rot. Before his demise, he was patched to heaven and back.

“We tried to save him, but he was too far gone,” Sue said.

If she pointed a finger at who instilled them with Christmas spirit, it would land squarely on her parents.

“My mom and dad always put out a lot of stuff … they still do,” Sue said. Her father, Curtis Hall, carves his own wooden displays, several of which are featured in the Waltons’ yard.

So, Jerry must have been drafted into the world of elaborate Christmas displays, right?

Sue looked over at her husband and laughed.

“Yeah, but he’s a pretty willing participant,” she said.

He nodded and returned the smile.

“It’s work,” he said. “But we enjoy it.”

adam.armour@journalinc.com