Sharing the spirit of the seasons

Ray and Joan Hamilton have created holiday displays year-round

Joan and Ray Hamilton have enjoyed decorating their home and yard in Washougal for the holidays for four years. “It started primarily for the grandkids, and it got bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said. “[This year] we started the week before Thanksgiving, and we’re still not done,” he said Dec. 12. Ray died four days later, with heart and lung issues.

Decorating their home for the holidays has become a labor of love for Ray and Joan Hamilton.The indoor and outdoor projects, which began as a form of amusement and entertainment for the grandkids, has also been appreciated by their neighbors and other local residents.

The Hamiltons have been decorating their house and yard for several holidays since they moved to 2242 N. “M” St., Washougal in June 2009.

“It builds up every year,” Ray said.

Last year’s display included a decorated, 6-foot Christmas tree in a pickup with wreaths around the wheels.

“I had to have three extra circuits put in,” Ray said. “The kids really like it.”

Joan said adults also enjoy the seasonal displays.

“They even stop in their cars and say ‘nice job,’” she said.

Most of their yuletide displays have been purchased at 50 to 75 percent off the regular prices, during after-Christmas sales at area retailers including Bi-Mart, in Washougal; Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart, in Vancouver.

“We accumulated a lot more each year,” Ray said.

He and Joan both listed the deer accented with colorful lights as their favorite Christmas decorations. Mickey and Minnie Mouse decorations are new to the couple’s yard this year.

Since they display a lot of lights for Halloween and Christmas, the Hamiltons’ electric bill doubles in October and December. They also decorate for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

Family members have helped retrieve decorations from the attic and basement, as well as put Christmas lights on the roof.

Ray focused primarily on the outside decorations, while she concentrated on the interior.

“We’re getting more experienced each year,” Joan said.

“It’s getting harder each year,” Ray added.

He has been using an oxygen tank 24 hours a day, due to lung and heart issues.

“I enjoy putting up the decorations,” Ray said. “It’s more fun putting them up than taking them down, but they go down faster.”

This is the second marriage for both Ray and Joan, who have been married to each other for 15 years.

The couple previously lived in Camas, but they did not decorate to this extent at their other residences.

The decorating started in earnest when they moved to their current address.

“It is just something to do,” he said. “At first, we did it for the family.

“Now, neighbors talk about it year round,” Ray added.

He worked in a warehouse for 26 years in Portland, while Joan was a secretary.

Ray, a former administrator for the Camas Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge 1042, was also an honorary state president and national pilgrim with the Moose organization.

Joan, a 1963 Camas High School graduate, worked 33 years for the Camas School District.

She retired in 2008 after she had a stroke.

“We don’t have anything else to do but shop and play,” Joan said, regarding their enthusiasm for decorating during the holidays.

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