When Michelle Fadel was told she had breast cancer six years ago, there was one thing her diagnosis didn’t shake: her love of Christmas.
For more than half a decade, she set out decorations every December and admired the string lights around her hometown of Concord, North Carolina. She loved the holiday cheer and the spirit of togetherness she witnessed every winter, she told ABC.
So when doctors told the 56-year-old recently that she would likely not live to see one more Christmastime, her enthusiasm for the holiday season didn’t change. Instead of shelving her plans, Fadel dusted off her holiday decorations a little early.
But Fadel’s home, filled with Christmas spirit in the middle of October, didn’t remain alone for long: the homes of her neighbors soon joined in.
Just days after her husband Dan hung up the Christmas wreath and the string lights outside their home, her neighbors on Chinaberry Lane festooned about a dozen of their own houses with their own lights and wreaths, along with angels and mangers, WCNC reported.
A photo published by ABC showed decorations hanging outside Fadel’s home, including a door-sized stocking depicting happy snowmen. Even one neighbor who had long abstained from holiday decorating set out a wreath of his own on the mailbox, according to WBTV.
“It may look a little strange this close to Halloween but we hope it makes her happy and we hope she knows we’re thinking about her,” neighbor Tim Hawkins told WBTV.
“I just can't say enough good things,” neighbor Dena Ayers said of Fadel to WCNC. “She has the most positive attitude. She's always has a smile on her face. Never has had a day when she's feeling sorry for herself.”
Fadel said she was moved by her neighbors’ actions.
“It didn't take long until our next door neighbor started putting the lights out and telling people about it,” Fadel told ABC. “We did what we always do, we cried. It was so sweet.”
Fadel said she plans to put up a Christmas tree in her home soon and that she plans to focus on enjoying the time she has left.
“I have a lot of things to be happy about because I know where I'm going,” she told ABC. “I'm going to heaven, so I'm going to be healed one way or the other. That gives me a lot of joy.”