Farm Progress

Let your light shine all year long

Front Porch: The lights from Christmas ought to shine all year, especially for what it costs to power them!

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

December 14, 2016

3 Min Read

You’ve heard me talk about Christmas lights before. Our son, Daniel, is fascinated by them. That fascination has rubbed off on his wife, Katie. They put together quite a show at our place this year.

The message of Christmas is to let your light shine all year, right? Well, it may take a year for our bank account to recover from paying this electric bill!

In all fairness, the extra cost to run the lights shouldn't be overwhelming. That’s because the engineers, Katie and Daniel, bought fancy gadgets and timed the lights to play with music. So they don’t all shine at once. They flash on and off to the music, provided by a computer hooked to a controller that is sitting in our back bedroom.


There's probably more technology there than existed in the huge computer in the basement of the Mathematical Sciences Building at Purdue University in 1977. That’s where poor saps like me with research projects went to feed in punch cards. If you’re too young to remember — don’t worry. You missed the bleeding edge of technology!

Don’t ask me for more details about the controllers. That’s far more than I know about how they work. Daniel and Katie will verify it.

Labor of love

Either Daniel and Katie love bringing the sights and sounds of Christmas to others, or they’re just plain nuts. In the middle of putting up this extravaganza, which took about a week, they even wondered out loud if they were nuts.

And that doesn’t count all the construction and planning they did ahead of time. When I found Daniel pouring concrete inside a wooden form to make a base for his "light tree" in my barn in October, I thought perhaps it was time for the men in white coats to appear.

Instead, like the wonderful dad I am — or certified idiot, you decide — I hosed in water as he mixed the concrete.

Daniel even conned his oldest sister, Allison, up from Atlanta for Thanksgiving, to help — in the rain, no less. Maybe she’s a little "touched" too. Maybe she’s sucked up too many fumes sitting in Atlanta traffic!

Grand unveiling

Finally, on Sunday evening after Thanksgiving, we were promised it would be time for the grand unveiling. The lights would dazzle and the music would sing out from loudspeakers and car radios. Katie’s mom and dad, Bill and Georgia Jones, made the trip from Lafayette to see the show — or to see what their hairbrained son-in-law had drug their sweet daughter into.

Naturally, there were delays. Did your new computer work right the first time? At one point, Katie came in glumly and said it wasn’t going to happen. Then a few minutes later, she appeared and said it might. She asked for prayer. We prayed.

At 10 p.m., we all stood in the road in front of our house in the dark. Maybe we were all nuts!

Suddenly, lights appeared on real trees, fake evergreens and even Daniel’s infamous "light tree." The music soon had us all dancing in the middle of the road. It was spectacular!

Oh, and this Christmas extravaganza will live on in another way. Passersby have been dropping money in a box. All proceeds will go to the local food pantry to buy food for those who have more to worry about than a slightly bulky electric bill.

Maybe Christmas lights can shine all year long. Thanks, Daniel and Katie!

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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