MORRIS – In the 1990s, Kim DesLauriers put out luminaries along North Street in front of the Immaculate Conception Church. Over the years the tradition has grown.
Before long they were lighting luminaries in front of their house on Fulton Street and in front of the neighboring two houses.
Now the entire DesLauriers family is involved: Kim’s wife, Trudy, their daughter, Jackie, and son, Marc, spend Christmas Eve prepare about 160 lighted milk jugs to place around the Chapin Street park in Morris.
Last year the event took on a new meaning with the death of Trudy’s mom, Norma Corsello. Jackie placed the word “Grandma” on one of the jugs, and her dog’s name Blue on another.
“My grandma was such an inspiration,” Jackie said. “I think it’s really sweet, and the first Christmas without her was very hard.”
This year the DesLauriers family thought they should take the new tradition a step further, so Kim posted a message on Facebook and asked anyone if they wanted a loved one honored with a luminary, and also invited people to drive by and see them once lit.
Before long he was getting messages from friends to add the names of their loved ones. By the time he was ready to get them set out he had gathered more than 70 names.
“It’s such a joyous time of year,” Trudy said. “Everyone is missing someone.”
Some of the names included were a former priest, and a former mayor, along with 40 years of DesLauriers pets listed on a milk jug.
“It’s an important family activity,” Marc said. “My dad really takes pride in it and it’s important to him. I want to help out.”
On Christmas Eve this year the DesLauriers family went into their basement where the floors were covered with 160 milk jugs filled with sand, and they set out lighting candles and placing one in each jug before taking them to their awaiting truck.
The process has become streamlined over the years, and they can now light up the entire city block in just over an hour.
Trudy lights the candles, Jackie passes them to her dad, Kim and Marc load them in the truck, and then Marc sets out driving while Kim places them along the curb of the park and Marc places them across the street.
Other than a snowstorm two years ago, which saw the milk jugs wiped out by a snow plow, the jugs sit in their spot burning brightly well into the night.
“Our bedroom looks over the park and it’s nice to get up in the morning and see a few still burning,” Trudy said. “The year it snowed, it looked like George Bailey’s Christmas.”