Christmas makeover for military home in Salem


by Pat Dooris, KGW Staff

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 8:39 PM

SALEM, Ore. -- A home where a military family is staying in Salem is shining brighter this holiday season, thanks to the generosity of strangers and a company called Christmas Décor.

It's been three Christmases since this east Salem home sparkled with the season. Isaac Kerns, who is part owner of C and D Landscape and a franchisee of Christmas Décor, said he was delighted to help.

“All Melanie wants to do is just brighten up Christmas. Brighten up the holidays for the kids. Kinda have a big wow factor for the kids, have a brighter Christmas. So it was a no brainer for us,” said Kerns.

Melanie is Melanie Watson. She grew up in Salem, ended up in Virginia, and now has a 10-month-old boy, two daughters and a military husband serving in Afghanistan.

“I really wanted to make this Christmas special for all of my kids, especially since this is Colin’s first Christmas,” she said.

Colin is 10 months old and was born with a rare metabolic condition. Melanie brought the family to her parent’s home in Oregon where she could be with family and excellent doctors.

“Lots of trips up to Doerenbecher seeing specialists. Lots of checks on him,” she said.

So when she read about a contest for military families to get free Christmas decorations for the outside of their home, she applied and won.

She tried to stay inside with Colin while the crew strung lights and hung garland outside.

“I’m watching through the windows and he keeps watching because he hears things. It’s exciting!” said Melanie.

It wasn't just an exciting surprise for the baby or the older girls who were in school and didn’t know the surprise they’d get when they got home.

Melanie's mom, Lavonne Willard, was also enjoying the lights.

“My husband used to do so much for me and he loved the yard work too. But he passed away three and a half years ago. So it’s been hard to keep it all up to his standards,” he said.

With 5,000 lights on her trees and home, she now has the brightest lot on the block.

When 11-year-old Cordelia and 12-year-old Meghan arrived home from school, one of them asked in surprise, "What did they do?"

They reminded the world of the truth that the great cartoonist Charles Schulz once said, Christmas is doing a little extra for someone.

The girls and their family appreciated that.

“I thought it was really neat and nice that people would actually care enough to do this for us,” said Meghan.

Staff Sergeant David Watson is scheduled to return home from Afghanistan in February. Melanie said he will retire from the military and they will move home to Oregon permanently.