In her North Raleigh neighborhood, Robin Reid’s house shines the brightest.
Over the years, Reid has amassed hundreds of Christmas lights for a holiday display that takes over her front yard near the Bedford neighborhood off Falls of Neuse Road.
It’s always been something Reid has enjoyed – spreading cheer through decorations. But this year, she and her family are using the light display to raise money for the North Carolina chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America, which supports research of the autoimmune disease.
Reid, 57, was diagnosed with lupus six years ago.
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“I never thought about donating before,” she said. “I just wanted to make people happy.”
When the Reid family moved to their home 10 years ago, they hired an electrician to add six electrical circuits to accommodate the ever-increasing number of Christmas lights. Reid first started building displays before she moved to Raleigh.
Without the extra circuits, Reid had been known to blow a fuse or two, shutting off power to the whole house.
Lupus takes a physical toll, leaving Reid exhausted, so she relies heavily on her family to create the Christmas display. Her sons, 23-year-old Dylan and 25-year-old Sawyer, help build the display each year.
This year’s scene includes a large tree, a cross and a lighted terrace and bushes. The lights are programmed to holiday music played over a speaker or passersby can tune in to 95.9 FM.
A box is set up for visitors to give donations for lupus research, or they can donate online.
Reid manages the display through a computer program that controls 272 channels of lights, telling them when to turn on and off and for how long. Sawyer taught her how to use the program, but she said she doesn’t need much help anymore. Her passion helped her learn.
“I’m just a housewife that loves Christmas lights,” she said.
It took about a week to set up the display, Dylan Reid said. In the past, he said, it was a weekend job, but his mother likes to oversee the installation to make sure everything is just how she likes it.
Her sons don’t mind.
“It’s the one thing she does for herself each year,” Dylan Reid said.
Lupus can cause a range of symptoms, and it often takes years to diagnose. For Reid, severe joint pain and fatigue tipped her off that something was wrong. It took about 10 years for doctors to formally diagnose her with the disease.
Reid receives intravenous medicine every two weeks, a procedure that leaves her tired. She hopes more research will lead to more treatment options.
“There needs to be more treatments,” she said. “There aren’t good treatments out there for lupus.”
Most Christmas seasons, Reid hands out candy canes in front of her home to “spread holiday cheer.” This has been a rough year for her health, though, so it’s not always possible anymore.
Reid said she hopes the lights will give her the best part of the holiday season.
“I like watching the children as they watch my house,” she said.
If you go
The Reid family’s Christmas display is at 1413 Whittington Road, Raleigh. Donations can be dropped in a special box, or they can be made directly to the North Carolina chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America at www.lupus.org/northcarolina/home.