Saturday, May 8, 2021

Christmas Tradition, a Priceless Legacy

When Bill and Sandy Engels first arrived in Marco Island 25 years ago, they drove down Collier Boulevard and met the Marco Island holiday angels. They learned that Marco Island is the “Island of the Angels.” Sandy fell in love with Marco and they decided to move here.

Bill and Sandy settled on a house located on Copeland Drive. It was a bigger house for the family since their daughter Leslie has been spending Christmas with them with husband Geoff and their four young girls. They lived in Europe but Leslie felt homesick over the holidays and would stay for three to four weeks.

Bill started decorating the Copeland house for the grandkids each Christmas. They did it for their three children, Leslie, Lynn and Peter, when they were growing up. The outdoor Christmas lights and decorating tradition was meant for the grandchildren and as they grew older the decorations would change. They had blow-up decorations all over the lawn, angels on the rooftop and Santa flying high on a sleigh – they’ve done it all.

According to Sandy, Bill loved Christmas and never got tired of the Christmas projects. When Bill passed away (three years in February), Sandy decided that maybe she will take a little break because she was heartbroken. But then she took a deep breath and felt Bill’s presence all around her saying, “Don’t stop.” With some help from her children she continued with the Christmas tradition. Sandy has a friend, Yuri at the post office, who said to her, “I would love to help you. Your husband was a fine man, and I think he would like to see the house decorated for the holidays.”

Her daughter Lynn decided that this was going to be a special Christmas because daddy was not here in body, but was present in spirit. Sandy decided that Jesus, Mary and Joseph are the true meaning of Christmas. Lynn helped set up a Manger scene as part of the outside Christmas decoration. Sandy’s new theme is centered around the Manger.

Lynn also sent her two beautiful angels, which are placed in the front driveway. They look angelic when lighted and their wings move and spread out. Her son Peter from Virginia also came down to help. To Peter, “Christmas lights were the magic of the season.” Her daughter Leslie will be arriving soon with her four daughters. Sandy left plenty of decorations for them to finish.

According to Sandy, the Engels family always loved Christmas and always will. She knows in her heart that her children will pass on the tradition to their children. Daughter Lynn remarked, “Dad loved spreading the message of love through his Christmas lights and now mom is handling his projects with gusto which makes the whole family smile with pride.” For Leslie and her daughters, “The Christmas lights bring to life all of poppa’s memories.” For Sandy, the Christmas tradition is a priceless legacy.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our Coastal Breeze News readers!

Sandy Engel’s home, a finalist on the House Decorating Contest every year since 2003, decorated for the Christmas season. (Photos by Maria Lamb)

Sandy Engels with her favorite decoration.

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