At his home in Brentwood Bay, Doan Allan is hard at work putting up a seemingly endless supply of lights and Christmas decorations.
“It keeps my hands busy,” said Allan.
It’s a yearly tradition started by his in-laws, in which Allan is now chief decorating officer.
“It just became a monster,” said Allan. “Where I started with one tiny little thing and fixing up some of their older decorations and brought my own flavour to it.”
There are vintage items that date back to the 1970s including cut-outs of Mickey Mouse and Gumby, and then there’s Allan’s handmade collection featuring a ‘Nog Bar’, and a Santa Letters-only mailbox he built after his neighbour decided to hold off on his own decorations this season.
“I just woke up one morning and thought, ‘I’m gonna build my own box and just try and keep that little neighbourhood tradition going’,” said Allan, who encourages families to come by and drop off letters, which he then takes to Canada Post.
For the out of work commercial pilot, decorating has provided a much-needed distraction in what’s been a very challenging year.
“I got laid off about three weeks ago, before that we lost one of our rescue dogs…And last May we lost our mother who was in San Pen in isolation there, and of course, with the COVID, our access to her was very limited,” said Allan, holding back tears.
In the myriad of Christmas decorations sits a small lit-up tree with particular significance.
“My mother, eight years ago, was living in a tiny little bachelor in Esquimalt and I came home from work one day to find this plant, it was a shrub, about 4-5 inches tall…So every year I keep it lit up, it’s my little memorial for her this year.”
Fueled by the hope his decorations can make a positive difference, Doan Allan keeps working. Healing, through the happiness of others.
“Just the look on everyone’s faces makes it all worth it…It makes it just that much easier just to pick up and keep going.”