Before Christy Hall Watson and her husband, Craig, bought their first home, their realtor told them it was inside the boundaries of Candy Cane Lane – an entire neighborhood of holiday light displays that benefits the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) Fund – and that moving there would mean a lot of lights, festivities and traffic on their block during the month of December.
"It was immediately appealing," says Watson. "I remember Candy Cane Lane as part of growing up in Milwaukee and, although I am not religious, I love Christmas and the holiday season. Plus, both my husband and I have December birthdays, so we celebrate all month long."
The couple moved into the West Allis home right in the middle of Candy Cane Lane’s 2012 season and so they were unable to decorate the first year.
"I wanted to put a sign on our house saying, ‘Sorry we didn’t decorate. We just moved in!’" says Watson.
The previous owners of the house, who had lived there since the ’50s, left all of their decorations for the Watsons.
"We used those in 2013, the first time we decorated, to honor her and her family," says Watson. "Then we decided to make it our own."
The first new creation they added was a wooden Grinch, hand painted by Craig.
"He thinks living on Candy Cane Lane is the perfect antidote to the Grinch in all of us," says Watson. "He’s said that his work stress melts away as he drives home through the lights. "
Does she ever tire of the bumper-to-bumper traffic on her block?
"I think you learn to adapt to traffic. You leave a little extra time to get somewhere and you pee before you head home in case you get stuck in traffic," says Watson. "Actually, hearing children and even parents comment on the lights and sounding happy is a great lift to the spirit. It makes everything worth it."
Watson says their holiday decorations are a work in progress and they have many ideas for future years.
"We both have dreams of building up our display into something incredible," says Christy.
As for neighbors who choose not to participate, Watson says they’re not shunned or ridiculed for not decorating.
"The number one question we get asked when people find out we bought a house on CCL is ‘Do you have to decorate?’ and the answer is no," says Watson.
Although a neighborhood committee sends out letters letting everyone know when Candy Cane Lane starts and ends, where meetings are, what to expect and why they do it – to raise money for the MACC fund – there is no pressure to decorate.
"There’s no Candy Cane Lane secret police or anything. In fact, they offer to help decorate if someone needs it," says Watson.
Watson, who is an intelligent comedian with a raunchy sense of humor, says living on Candy Cane Lane brings balance to her life.
"If you’ve heard my comedy, you’ll understand why I want to be as nice as possible at least one month a year," she says.
The year before the Watsons bought the house they learned that Christy's sister was pregnant and that Christy could not have children. This was, in part, why they decided to move into the neighborhood and why it remains a positive and fulfilling choice for the couple.
"I can decorate and bring joy to all the other children, especially my new nephew," says Watson. "Living on Candy Cane Lane is a perfect fit for us."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.