Steve McDonald's love of Christmas goes back almost 19 years, to the Christmas his daughter, Hannah, was born.
She's now grown up and in college, and McDonald is sharing his love of the holiday season by hanging Christmas lights for clients of his business, Steve's Services.
"It's all part of the holidays; it's fun," McDonald said on Monday while taking a break from one of about 10 lighting jobs per day he and his crews are on this time of year.
McDonald added light hanging services to his business about 11 years ago, starting with about 20 clients. This year, the man who looks a little bit like Santa figures his crews will install holiday lighting for 200 or more clients in and around Tyler.
"I always love it," McDonald said. "There's so much pressure. Every year gets crazier."
He's seen a lot of changes in holiday lighting over the years, he said. Perhaps the biggest is the recent advent of light-emitting diode, more popularly known as LED, Christmas lights replacing the long-standard incandescent lamps.
The LED lights are more durable and far more energy efficient than traditional lights. For the power requirements of a single incandescent bulb in a string of lights, for example, seven LED lights can be illuminated, McDonald said.
The lights also emit very little heat, making them safer and less likely to spark a fire, and they are virtually indestructible with normal handling, he said. While they are more expensive - about $1.20 each LED wholesale versus about 25-cents a piece for incandescent - they should also last upward of five years, McDonald said. And they come in two shades of white as well as various other colors to suit any aesthetic.
"But it's always all white," McDonald said. "Warm white (which mirrors the tone of an old incandescent built) is really the most popular. But some people still like the multicolored lights, too."
But don't go looking for the lights McDonald uses at your regular shopping outlet. These are only available wholesale from a supplier who caters to businesses installing Christmas lighting.
For people who still want to do their own decorations and lighting this holiday season, McDonald said one important consideration is to make sure they check the electricity requirements for their lights and make sure they don't overload the circuits of their home or business.
"And know where they're going to plug things in," he said. "Know how many bulbs they can safely put on each electrical circuit."
And don't neglect the outside trees. Wrapping even a single strand of lights in each tree can add a festive, attractive element to a holiday lighting scheme, McDonald said.
Uniformity and, in some cases, simplicity is also best, McDonald said. But the beauty of holiday lighting is individuals can satisfy their own personal tastes and go as basic or as wild as they want.
McDonald said he leans more toward the latter when decorating his home on West Rieck Road in Tyler. He said, if you go looking for it this holiday season, you'd be hard-pressed to miss it.
"I never have enough lights," McDonald said with a laugh. "It's just like with pizza toppings - it's always more, more, more."
But the real joy in holiday lighting is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Even for him.
"I always get a kick out of going by the houses I've done," McDonald said. "And people love to go out during the holidays and look at the lights."