A New York woman wants people to take a beat before they decide to send a negative message to their neighbors after she received a complaint about still having her Christmas lights up in February.
Sara Pascucci and some of her neighbors in Bethpage on Long Island recently received an anonymous letter that read, "Take your Christmas lights down! It's Valentines Day!"
The letter has instead inspired some neighbors to consider putting their lights back up after hearing why Pascucci still has the decorations on her house.
Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
Pascucci told NBC New York that her time has been taken up with planning funerals for her father and aunt, who have both died from COVID-19.
"We haven't had time to really do anything besides funeral arrangements," she said. "We have the house now that … it was left to me and my brother, and we're trying to figure that out. You know, stuff that's actually important, not Christmas lights."
After receiving the letter, Pascucci wrote on Facebook that she was hoping to pass on a message to the anonymous sender. She said that her entire family was sick with COVID-19 starting on Christmas Eve and that they lost two family members: her aunt and father, the latter of whom always loved decorating the house for Christmas.
"So yes, we haven't gotten around to taking down his Christmas decorations," she wrote. "And maybe we just aren't ready to yet. I won't apologize for this."
She then offered some advice.
"Be kind to people because you never know what they are going through. May you never have to feel the pain that we have felt within the past few weeks. Maybe next time offer a helping hand to someone that may be in need."
Pascucci's story prompted an outpouring of support from her neighbors, which she acknowledged in a Facebook post on Wednesday night.
"LOVE OUTWEIGHS THE HATE!!" she wrote. "I want to thank everyone for all of their love and support today! And I want to thank the grinch too! For bringing all of this love to me in a time of need!"
She also reiterated her intention behind going public with the letter.
"However all in all, the letter is minor. But the message I wanted to get across is major — that being said, think before you act!" she wrote. "There may be reasons behind something so put yourself in others' shoes before you come from a place of negativity and pettiness. I know there will still be a few people out (there) who feel this wasn’t 'newsworthy' or say 'oh it was just a letter, get over it.' But you are the exact people that need to hear the message behind all of this much clearer and I pray you all do because after the challenges we ALL have faced this year, this world can use a little Christmas."
Several neighbors are in agreement.
"I think someone has too much time on their hands," Brian Kelly, who received the same letter about his own decorations, told News 12 Long Island. "Lights? That's your biggest problem right now, lights?"
"I have nothing else to do so I might as well just put Christmas lights up!" neighbor Ellen Shapiro told News 12.
The decorations also have a connection to the pandemic, as many people put their Christmas lights back up when it began in March 2020 as a small symbol of cheer during a difficult time across the world.
Decorating with Christmas lights at different times of the year to help boost your mood is also backed up by science.
"It does create that neurological shift that can produce happiness," psychologist Deborah Serani told TODAY Home in 2017. "I think anything that takes us out of our normal habituation, the normal day in, day out ... signals our senses, and then our senses measure if it's pleasing or not."
She said Christmas decorations in particular “spike dopamine, a feel-good hormone.”