Like many families, the Tripp family in Cochran takes a special joy in decorating for Christmas.
“My family has been decorating with lights for about 20 years,” said 25-year-old Joey Tripp in a recent phone interview. “It was something fun that we did as a family.”
Decorating has become a tradition that the entire Tripp family — parents Joe and Marie, daughters Monica, Mindy, Amanda and Jami, and son Joey — participate in yearly. It began for fun, but in 1995 it became something more personal for the family.
“I was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995,” Joey Tripp said. “The lights at Christmas were something that I always looked forward to and I asked my parents to put them up as soon as possible. It became a family priority after that and then it just became a tradition.
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“Even now, we all come back to the family home to decorate,” said Joey Tripp, whose cancer is now in remission.
Christmas has always been a special time for the Tripp family. Joe and Marie were married on Christmas Eve and the whole family agrees that it is the biggest celebration of the year.
“Even though not everyone lives at home anymore, we all come together and decorate for a few weekends in November,” Joey Tripp said. “We even have some volunteers from around the community. My youngest sister is still in high school and some of her friends help out.
“We offer to feed them lunch,” Joey Tripp said laughing. “You get food for labor.”
Over the years, the decorations have grown, with something new added every year. This year, the economy has hit the Tripp family as hard as it has everyone else.
“Most of the new items this year were bought on sale at the end of last year’s Christmas season,” Joey Tripp said. “Also, we put up a donations box about three years ago. We don’t expect people to give us money at all, but people kept doing it — they’d slip it somewhere like the mailbox or on the door, so we went ahead and put up a donations box.”
He also hurried to reassure repeat guests that they will see something new.
“We change it every year,” he said. “My dad puts up all the lights on the house, but we all decorate around the yard and we make sure to do different things.”
Visitors this year can expect to see the Nativity in the front yard, along with Santa’s village. Guests are encouraged to go to the backyard as well, where they can see a Disney-themed party, reindeer training, Gingerbread Village, Santa’s Workshop and Toyland.
While the Tripps have no official count of their visitors each year, last year’s guestbook indicated that there were more than 7,000 visitors.
“People should feel free to park and walk around,” Joey Tripp said.
And Santa will be visiting the house from 6:30-9 p.m. Dec. 18-24.
“You can get your picture taken, too, on those days — except on Christmas Eve, because Santa is a bit busy.” he said.