If you happen to live in the neighborhood, or are just passing through near St. Louis Street and Smith Street, you cannot miss the brightly decorated Christmas (yes, we realize it is Halloween) house. There on the corner, thousands of lights twinkle and many, many inflatables glow amidst a forest of lighted trees and other Christmas flare.
"This brings me so much joy," Becky Cole said Friday, as she gazed out her front window at her Christmas decorations. "That's why my family thought up 'Christmas In October.' They want to bring me joy."
Becky, a type one diabetic, has fought diabetes for 25 years; but for the last 15 years she has suffered relentlessly from a related condition called gastroparesis, a disorder that paralyzes the stomach and stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine.
Becky cannot eat. She lives only by parenteral nutrition – the delivery of nutrients into her vein. Her blood count has dropped tremendously and she has to go regularly for transfusions. She has also entered the early stages of renal failure and doctors have told her she is not a candidate for dialysis because her body "cannot handle it." The same doctors have told her there is nothing left to do but wait.
"They told me to spend time with my family. I am," Becky said. "They told me to make my arrangements. I have. That was one of the hardest days of my life."
Facts about Becky: She loves her husband, her three children, her new grandson, and her whole family "to the moon and back." She collects snowmen, she decorates her Christmas tree on Halloween; and nothing makes her happier than seeing other people happy.
"I have never decorated or been much on Halloween, but I love Christmas – It's my favorite holiday," Becky said. "I always put out my decorations early."
This year, Becky's family wanted to make her favorite holiday extra special. They started putting out decorations two weeks ago.
"We want to make this the best Christmas ever," husband James Cole said. "Tomorrow is not promised and if this is her last Christmas, I want it to be amazing."
In an effort to make Becky's Christmas spectacular James and the family have declared “Christmas In October.”
"She is so special to us," niece Trinda Hall said. "She has really touched a lot of lives."
Trinda said if it weren't for the wheelchair and feeding line, no one would ever know the extent of Becky's illness.
"My Aunt Becky always has a smile or kind words for anyone," Trinda said. "Even when she is sick. Even when she has been up all night. Even on her worst days. She is an inspiration."
For these reasons Trinda has set up a social media group for Becky, explaining the growing Christmas wonderland and telling Becky's story.
"People have been so kind and offered so much encouragement," Trinda said. "It is so amazing to see her receive all this love from the community."
Becky said she reads every single comment and though she cannot answer each one individually she is thankful for every post.
Becky has also received some specials gifts, including: cards from strangers; bouquets of flowers; and last week a giant 20-foot inflatable snowman from H-E-B, where James works as produce manager.
"I never expected this outpouring," Becky said. "All I can say is thank you. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."
The giant snowman – her new favorite piece – is taller than her house. She is in awe as much as onlookers.
"It excites me to see children's faces light up when they see our Christmas display." Becky said. "There is a couple that walks by with their little ones almost every night and seeing them warms my heart."
In addition to the feel-good vibe of the beautiful display the family has made some extra-special concessions. At the curb side, there is a “Letters To Santa” postal box. On good authority, it is said to go directly to a North Pole address.
"I would love to look out my window and see little ones sending their wishes to Santa," Becky said. "I do hope the box will be put to use."
The family is also planning a drive-thru cocoa and candy cane event, after sunset on Saturday, December 16.
"I cannot drink hot chocolate or have candy canes, but I can visit with people who can," Becky said. "There is nothing better than a good Christmas visit."
Amid the menagerie and merriment there is a tree with no decorations. Trinda has lit the tree for her aunt, but left it bare for a reason. She hopes anyone wanting to add a decoration, note, or symbol of love and support will do so.
"I am not so much asking the anonymous people to decorate the tree as I am asking for people to be a part of what we are doing for my Aunt Becky," she said.
Trinda has placed a basket of pipe cleaners outside for anyone interested in participating.
"This is not just for me," Becky said. "This is for the whole community. Please come. Look. Take pictures. leave a letter to Santa. And, most importantly have a Merry Christmas."