I admit my outdoor lights aren’t yet hung for the holidays (or rather – as is my style of late – tossed over a low evergreen bush, since the ladder is just another hassle I can’t deal with). But while I have no excuse, Madeline Oag had a tragic one. Her 40-year-old son Doug, who traditionally put up the lights every year for his elderly mom, passed away unexpectedly. It happened exactly two months before Christmas.
Doug was on vacation in Jamaica when he died. He had already started the task of hanging over 100,000 lights at the family home in Essex County, Ontario, before he left.
Thanks to the Oag family’s longtime property manager, Ryan Bondy, the job was finally completed last week. First Ryan recruited volunteers from his company. Then friends and neighbours heard about the initiative and jumped on board to help. Even people who never knew Doug joined in, including a local student who was so filled with seasonal generosity that he was willing to skip school to pitch in.
The group effort was clearly a comfort to Doug’s grieving best friend, who said in a news story: “It feels great being here, having everyone come together as a community.”
By the end of the day, the lights were on. “Hopefully we can give Mrs. Oag and her family a little Christmas spirit,” Ryan told a reporter.