The dark days of the pandemic are not yet behind us, but some Calgary homeowners and businesses are getting into the holiday spirit to help them “Lighten Up.”

That’s the name of one group that has curated a website marking locations of homes with Christmas displays, with many also accepting donations to a charity of their choice.

“People need to look at something that’s bright that’s enjoyable that’s fun to do,” said Silvana Stoesser, who founded the group four years ago, and has been decorating her home in Deer Run for the last eight years.

She expects this year will be busier than ever as an escape from the gloom of the pandemic, as driving past the houses or scrolling through the websites are considered safe under pandemic public health rules.

As well, she encourages anyone who may be feeling low, to get into the holiday spirit.

“Put your own lights up, decorate your home and enjoy the lights and the warmth and Christmas," she said.

Businesses onboard

Some businesses are also on board; both the Kent of Inglewood and Knifewear shops are covered in a web of Christmas lights.

“We took the inspiration from (the film) National Lampoon’s Christmas. You know when Griswold (Chevy Chase) plugs in the lights and it lights up the whole neighbourhood and kills the power in the whole city,” said Kevin Kent, owner of both stores.

“It’s been a bummer of a year," Kent added. "I thought people just needed a smile.”

With travel restrictions and public health calls to stay at home — one psychologist says Albertans are turning to holiday decor to help lighten up their spirits.

“It’s a good way to adjust and help balance things out for everything we’ve been dealing with,” said Ganz Ferrance, who practises in Edmonton.

He encourages people begin to hone in on their expectations of the holiday season.

“It’s going to be different this year. Start ahead of time to make peace with that," he said.

Stoesser and “Lighten Up” are accepting submissions for participating homes that are all decked out, until December 1.