Christine Barner-Hall stands in front of her Christmas light display at 145 Rose Ave. in Syracuse. | Mike Greenlar, The Stand

Shining Bright

By Ashley Kang

For the past 15 years Christine Barner-Hall has outfitted her home on Rose Avenue with a holiday lights display, which her niece Shiann Atuegbu believes rivals that of homes in more affluent neighborhoods. 

Her love of Christmas and this festive time of year is her inspiration. “This is the time Jesus Christ was born,” Barner-Hall said.

The pandemic didn’t dampen her holiday spirit, but brought some concern when she ventured out to shop for decorating supplies. “I was scared when I first started Christmas shopping, but then I got into it,” she said. “Otherwise, I’ve stayed close to home and haven’t gone around a lot of people.”

But by this time next week, all the lights she spent a week putting up herself will be gone.

“My mother told me never let ’em stay up until New Year’s. She says it’s bad luck, so I always take them down right after Christmas,” Barner-Hall said.

She grew up in Georgia with 13 siblings. Little fanfare could be given for the holiday then. “When I was coming up, we didn’t have no Christmas,” she said. “We each got an orange and an apple and that was it.”

Now, when she looks up on that first night all her lights are up, she takes in her home’s beauty. “Until one light blows out,” she adds with a laugh. “Then I have to go back out.”

She loves this spot. “I have plenty of land to do my gardening in the summertime, and it’s peaceful,” she said. “I don’t want to ever leave.”

She takes great pride in beautifying her home in all seasons. In the summer, she tends to her vegetable and flower gardens. In winter, she brings sparkle to the landscape with lights, garlands and wreaths in a spectacular exhibit for all her neighbors, even passersby on 1-81.

When asked if she has concerns about planned I-81 viaduct construction, she said none. “I’m not concerned about nothing because I really don’t think it’s coming,” she said. “I’ll stay right her until they make me move.”

Ashley Kang is Director of The Stand

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