It's been said that Christmas is a time for children. It has also been called a season for giving. A Cleveland-area family has a unique way of celebrating Christmas in a manner that more than satisfies both those statements. For the fifth year in their home, this family has created a children's wonderland in their 2-acre front yard -- a wonderland that is giving visitors an eyeful of pleasure and St. Mary's Catholic Church a needed financial boost during a season of helping those less fortunate. "Fifteen years ago, when we lived in Huntsville, I asked Robert for some lights around the house." laughs Diane. "But not ALL around our house! He really took my request literally!" That innocent request, which more than one husband in the area would have moaned about, has come to be a 100,000 light project for the family of four, their friends and family. Robert, Diane and their children, Trisha and Robyn, begin the hard work the Saturday before Thanksgiving every year, shooting to be finished by the Saturday after Thanksgiving. "But... we don't always make it." said Diane. "However, we keep on working on it until we get it done." Getting it done entails a lot of long hours and hard work with the whole family participating. In addition, others -- such as Trisha's drama class and the Bear Creek 4-H club -- lend their assistance i the massive project, made greater still by the addition of new displays each year. "The third year Bob decorated the house was the year he went crazy." reminisced Diane and her daughters. "It just got bigger and bigger until we ran out of room." Room and Bob's enjoyment of his "hobby", are two of the reasons the family moved to the over 14-acre site located outside Cleveland. "The real estate stipulations were that we had to have plenty of land to expand into and we had to be on a road that was accessible to people." Their property more than sufficiently satisfies those points as the multiple displays, lights and lines of cars demonstrate. A third stipulation was that the house, purchased in November 1995, had to close either before November 15 or after January 15 -- the project would wait for nothing, not even a house closing! Diane also told us, seriously, that the their contract on their old home had a clause which required the new owner's to "forward" people to the new location! Each of the family members admits to having a favorite in the wonderland. Bob, the creative mind behind the majority of the displays, favors the large, rotating Frosty the Snowman, centered in the front yard. Diane chose the waterfall as her favorite, noting it was inspired by a trip to Brazil last year. Trisha, a junior at Cleveland High, said her love for "Star Wars" was the impetus behind the creation of her favorite, Yoda Claus. Eleven-year-old Robyn couldn't make up her mind as to one favorite, so she nominated two -- the igloo and the teddy bear. The teddy bear selection may have been influenced by the fact that she painted that item when two-years-old. Family commitment to the project begins early in the this house! In addition to the lights, Santa Claus makes an appearance on the weekends. Diane told us Santa assured her he would be there the 23rd and 24th. The project is great source of teasing among the family members, coupled closely with a great deal of love. Stories of past years flowed easily as we watched cars from the dining table in the family's house. "Dad loves sitting in here, watching the cars go by," Trisha said. Even dog, Buddy, watched the vehicles, and later helped Robyn lead us on a tour. Each year, the children get a new "tool" to use during the project. Bob is training his "elves" to one day replace him. "We've all learned new skills," laughed Diane. "I used to say 'I don't mess with electrical boxes or chainsaws.' Now it's just the chainsaws; this year I had to learn how to work on the electrical boxes." And how many sixth graders do you know that can operate a lift? Robyn can, and does it, as friend Lera said, "Quite proficiently." After you hear the stories, and after you see the evidence of all the hard work, you have to ask yourself --- and this family --- why? Why do this project, adding more and more to it each year? "I enjoy doing it, but I enjoy doing it more for the community." said Bob. "It's to a certain extent a hobby, but to a certain extent it's become expected... by our family, by our friends and by the community." "The first year we were here, we had to get busy and cut the road out of the woods," explained Bob. "At that point, you couldn't even see the house." So before the boxes were even emptied or the family's belongings put in place, they were working on the Christmas Ranch displays. "I have to admit I like the comments, the people stopping by and coming through. That's the best part --- watching the people coming through. Everyone gets enjoyment -- not just me." And after all is said and done, after all the work has been done setting up and then taking down and storing the displays, after all the cars have stopped, and after the New Year rolls around, Trisha summed it up best. "Don't tell Dad, but I'd hate not to see them up," she said with a smile. "It just wouldn't be Christmas without them." (Editor's note: What would Christmas be without a Grinch? The last two years the family has seen some incidences of vandalism, probably done by bored juveniles. We hope that in the future, the spirit of love for the community will touch even those hearts, saving the display for the enjoyment of others.)