Mary Lynne Clough can’t resist the sparkling cheer of holiday decorations her husband installs year after year at their house in East Aurora.
The shows start in October, with a spotlight on a Halloween pumpkin at the roof peak at 173 King St.
By Christmas, the yard is lit up with Christmas trees and snowmen. At Eastertime, big wooden bunnies adorn the porch spindles.
Yet it is the hearts, Cupids and “Happy Valentine” spotlight rigged in finger-numbing temperatures that are Paul Clough’s singular love note to his wife.
Especially this Valentine’s Day. Now that the cancer she fought has been gone for a year, he is grateful to light up yet another holiday for the woman he wooed and won 25 years ago, after they bumped into each other at the bar of Tony Rome’s Globe Hotel.
The decoration side of their life together started sometime after they settled down.
“I chased her for many, many weeks,” he said. “It took a long time.”
She bought a carful of holiday decorations one year when she spotted them for $25 at a going-out-of-business sale.
For a while the Cloughs, pronounced “cluffs,” entered a local Christmas decorating contest, putting a wreath at the roof peak, dangling giant ornaments from the porch and posting Santa Clauses on the lawn and in the flower beds along the driveway.
They never won, but about five times they were runner-up. Mary got used to giving the consolation prize of bread loaves to her mother. “We’ve been losers for years,” she said, laughing about the old contest. “It’s rigged.”
So they gave up on the competition and decorated to suit themselves.
“We do it for us and my little neighbor kids,” she said.
Their collection kept growing. Friends having garage sales gave them odds and ends, and they couldn’t say no to a decent holiday decor orphan.
“If you got any fake Christmas trees, you don’t want, drop ’em off,” she joked. “My whole loft in my garage is all decorations.”
That’s how she got the spotlight now shining a heart on the side of the house. A friend decided it was too much to bother with.
Before they light up the house in St. Patrick’s Day green sometime in the next week or so, the Cloughs will bask in the glow of their Valentine view.
It is the back of the house that Paul likes best.
From the kitchen windows, he can see the two small hearts hanging on the garage and the snowmen still in the yard. He keeps the lights on past midnight so they’re on when his wife comes home after waiting tables at Eckl’s in Orchard Park.
“A lot of my better efforts are confined to the backyard,” he said.
“Valentines I do for her because she’s the love of my life.”