It was a little bit like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," albeit on a smaller scale. Two Salem girls left their house and went to school. When they got back home the afternoon, it had been transformed.
"I just waited until we came around the corner," said Melanie Watson, mother of Cordelia and Meghan Watson. "They were just kind of shocked. They didn't know how to respond to what was going on."
The Watsons' home had been decked out in about 5,000 Christmas lights. It was part of the Decorated Family program from Christmas Decor, a national Christmas decoration company. The company is responsible for decorating the homes of certain military families across the nation.
C and D Landscaping, a Christmas Decor franchisee in Salem, installed the Watson's Christmas lights.
"I think it's beautiful," said Melanie Watson. "I never could have done this at all for us. It's absolutely beautiful. I love it."
Christmas cheer is hard to come by in some of the families chosen for the decorations. One parent is often deployed somewhere far away for the holidays. Melanie Watson's husband, David, is serving in Afghanistan. It's why she nominated her family for the program.
"I wanted to be able to do something special for my children, so they could have an exciting Christmas this year since their dad is gone," she said.
Nearly 400 families are part of the Decorated Family program each year.