DALLAS (CBS11) – Lighting up the holidays and paying it forward, a North Texas man discovered a surprise in his mailbox that has left him inspired to keep giving.
When driving along Abrams Road near Mockingbird, it is almost impossible not to notice the lights surrounding Gary Isett’s home.
“It’s pretty electric, pretty bright,” said Isett.
Each year his display gets bigger.
“You know somebody just having a bad day and they drive by and it makes them smile, ‘hey let’s do it,’” said Isett.
Strands and strands of lights, illuminated signs, and some not so conventional decorations fill Isett’s yard. But he does not do it for his enjoyment.
“I live by myself, so it’s not like a need a tree and presents for kids and all that,” said Isett.
He puts up his display for all the folks zooming by in their cars.
“Put a smile on people’s faces. I mean you got to give back in the community,” said Isett.
The tables though, were turned recently.
Isett is used to getting cards from strangers, but one particular note he received was different.
“I live down the street. I always enjoy passing your house and seeing your yard art. Love the carriage. Just wanted to pitch in for your electric bill, thanks for brightening up the neighborhood,” said Isett as he read from the note.
The words were from a random neighbor and tucked inside the note were hundreds of dollars.
Isett managed to track the author down, but said his “Secret Santa” wants to remain that way.
“He didn’t have to give it to me. You know, I’m about giving back. I don’t need anything given to me,” said Isett.
While he insists he needs ‘nothing,’ that is not true.
Isett might scold at donations and gifts, but it is all the strangers he does not know nor will ever meet who fuel his passion to light up the night.
“Just getting these letters like this keeps me wanting to keep doing it and making it bigger and doing it every year,” said Isett.
As they fly by or slow down and wave, Isett hopes those looking at his lights take something with them too.
“To see that I’m giving and that maybe they should give too,” said Isett. “You know life’s not about taking.”
Isett ended up taking all the money down the street to Woodrow Wilson High School, where he donated to the money to the “Senior Fund.”