KAYSVILLE — For one Davis County neighborhood, Christmas is coming early this year. It’s all in an effort to give one man his dying wish — to spend one final Christmas season with his family.
Blaine and Debra Smith said they didn't plan to celebrate Christmas in September and October. However, Blaine was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic non-small cell lung cancer six weeks ago that has spread to his bones. Doctors told him he wouldn’t make it to Christmas.
Blaine Smith said he remembered having joint pain that increased during the end of the summer.
"All in a matter of a week or so, we went from family reunion to family high urgent care," he said.
Blaine Smith hoped he could take Debra Smith to Disneyland one more time, but he became weak very quickly.
Blaine Smith loves Christmas, so his brothers set up the tree, and his wife gave him several ornaments, including one of Cinderella's castle with a backdrop of fireworks and the song "When You Wish Upon a Star."
“It struck me really deep,” he said when he saw the ornament. “I just broke down into tears.”
The Smiths' LDS Church bishop was at their house near 1300 South and 175 East during the ornament exchange.
“(He) was really touched by the moment,” Blaine Smith said. “The idea of Christmas in September kind of stuck in his head.”
The next day, the Smiths heard movement on their roof and discovered that their bishop and his sons were putting lights on their home.
“Sure enough, we had Christmas decorations out for September, and it created an atmosphere that was really fun and festive for us,” Blaine said. “A couple of days later, we noticed that across the street one of our dear neighbors all of a sudden had Christmas lights up on their roof.”
The idea caught on, and now some 20 houses in the area sparkle with the Christmas spirit.
"We didn't think we were starting a movement in the neighborhood," Debra Smith said with a laugh. "We were just our little family, just putting up the tree for Blaine."
Each day returning home from work, Debra Smith started to see more and more homes decorated with Christmas decorations.
"Every time I see Christmas lights, I know those are people praying for my husband," she said.
"We love having them as neighbors, and especially Blaine. (He's) just the sweetest guy," said next-door neighbor Rhonda Shinn.
"He always makes you feel like you're the best, no matter how he's feeling," neighbor Tim Shinn said.
People must drive through the neighborhood and think everyone is crazy, Debra Smith said with a laugh. But Christmas lights aren’t just up in Kaysville.
“There's Christmas decorations up in Sacramento. There's Christmas decorations up in Idaho Falls. There's Christmas decorations up in Santaquin and in Provo and Eagle Mountain and Maryland, and there's a lot of people who are connected by family and friends who put up Christmas lights and sent us pictures,” Debra said with a big smile on her face, “just to let us know that they are thinking of Blaine.”
Debra Smith sings with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and said her family loves to sing. The neighbors have come to their home several times to sing Christmas carols.
"(We're) hoping that we can bring a little cheer and a little gladness and return some of the wonderful feelings that they've brought into our lives," said neighbor Garn Morrell.
"We've sung in groups with them. We love them,” Diane Morrell said. “So we would not pass up an opportunity to do this — ever.”
From his bed and through an open window, Blaine Smith waved to the crowd of parents and children who sang Christmas carols to him Monday evening.
"It's a whole tie-in to the light of Christ and the healing power, and we've just felt very, very blessed," Blaine said.
Debra Smith said she is grateful to have the time to say goodbye.
“We have time. We’ve been making more memories,” she said.
The Smiths say their neighbors have always been friends, but this year they became angels.
An account has been set up to help the Smiths pay for medical expenses. It is the Blaine Jay Smith Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc
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