The Christmas Present

A Wrightsville Beach home is decorated for the holidays — and the neighbors.

BY Amanda Lisk

Land to Sea Construction built the home’s boat dock and gazebo using ThruFlow decking, the Legacy XP system. More than 16,000 lights were used by Patriot Illumination to decorate the dock and gazebo for Christmas. Allison Potter
Land to Sea Construction built the home’s boat dock and gazebo using ThruFlow decking, the Legacy XP system. More than 16,000 lights were used by Patriot Illumination to decorate the dock and gazebo for Christmas. Allison Potter

It was the Sunset’s Fault.

I walk in, and they open up these sliding glass doors and it was like the heavens opened up. It took my breath away,” says Kelli Miner.

The sunset was so beautiful that evening that Kelli made an offer on the Wrightsville Beach house overlooking Banks Channel before telling her husband. 

“He said, ‘So, we bought a house?’” Kelli says as she and Butch Miner laugh while sitting in the family room. “Then he said, ‘This is a good decision.’”

The Miners closed on the house in June 2020. It’s a second home for the Raleigh couple.

It only took a few nights of enjoying the sunset together on the front porch to realize they weren’t the only ones who cherish the view at dusk from Waynick Boulevard.

“We kept seeing these young kids come and sit on their cars to watch the sunset,” Kelli says.

Last Christmas, the Miners decided to provide a photo op to the sunset backdrop and with the help of Patriot Illumination, they lit up their dock in the shape of a Christmas tree.

“I think our dock ended up in some Christmas cards last year,” says Kelli. “We said, ‘Let’s keep doing it.’”

Let the Light Shine

This year the dock has been transformed into a sparkling Christmas present in what has become a symbolic reminder of the gift of life following a scary accident that happened over Labor Day weekend. 

“I dove into the water and smacked my head, and I felt my neck crunch,” remembers Butch. “My neighbor, Matt Stober, pulled me to shore and kept me floating in about a foot of water so that I didn’t put weight on anything I had damaged, and then I realized I couldn’t feel my limbs. I was terrified.”

The Miners are giving praise to God as well as credit to the quick response of their neighbor, the speedy arrival of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue, and the skill of emergency staff and doctors for saving Butch’s life. The feeling in his limbs came back and, despite a shattered C3 and C4 and contusions on the spine, he is expected to make a full recovery. 

“I’ve passed all my nerve tests. I feel very blessed to even be telling this story,” says Butch. 

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift from God, that’s why it’s called the present.” 

— Bil  Keane

“We had people we didn’t even know leaving us notes and food at our door — Sunday school teachers would tell us their Sunday school class was praying for us. This community has been absolutely incredible,” says Kelli.

More than 16,000 lights were used to transform the dock and gazebo into a shiny, sparkly, twinkling Christmas present.

“I didn’t want just this square box, I wanted it to be elegant, to have that glimmer and shimmer to it that Christmas presents have,” says Patriot Illumination project designer Patrick Hoffman. “Our goal is for not only the homeowner to be happy, but also for anyone traveling past the dock to enjoy the lights as well.”

An 18-foot Christmas tree stands at the dock entry. Lights wrap the handrails leading to the Christmas present for all to see.

“This year I simply said, ‘You just have at it, have fun with it,’” says Kelli.

“This is definitely much more grand than last year,” says Hoffman. “There’s the gigantic Christmas tree up front that already draws a lot of attention so we really wanted to make sure the dock could hold its own.”

When Kelli and Butch purchased the home, the dock structure was in bad shape. They found Daniel Clements of Land to Sea Construction who rebuilt the dock and built a custom gazebo to create a more functional space featuring decking product ThruFlow and its Legacy XP system.

“I’ve done a lot of them lately,” says Land to Sea Construction owner Daniel Clements. “People worry about their docks during storms or hurricanes floating up or being damaged because of flotation. The beauty of the ThruFlow is it’s a flow-through material so water can pass right through it during storms and there’s no upward pressure on your dock whatsoever. Plus, it’s got a more modern look to it.”

The spacious gazebo has couch seating. Modern cable wire fencing lines the dock leading out to the water.

“Docks have been pretty much the same for the past 100 years. This is a new wave of product to help define your space and make it a little different,” Clements says.

The design mimics the coastal modern look of the home. It has become a fun spot for entertaining and watching the Wrightsville Beach flotilla. 

Silver and Gold

Inside, it’s a Christmas display of the classic silver and gold. 

The home was built by North State Builders in 2020. Selling agents Jessica Pirone and Rebecca Dawson of the Full Circle Group at Nest Realty also helped Kelli with the interiors. The front porches maximize views of the water. The kitchen features a waterfall edge countertop island and a textured subway tile backsplash. Shiplap woodwork lines the walls leading up the stairs. Floating wood shelving and the outdoor dining table are by Coastal Live Edge. Kelli added glamour to the master bathroom with a six-tier crystal chandelier.  

“Butch walked in to see it, threw his hands up, rolled his eyes and grinned and then walked out. I personally love it,” laughs Kelli.

Decorating for Christmas is Kelli’s forte. She selects a different theme each year.

Growing up, my parents didn’t entertain or decorate much, so Christmas for me has always meant so much,” she says. “Last year I did blues. This year I wanted to take it back to the simple, elegant silver and gold.”

Butch recently took a photo with the Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue team that helped save his life. The Miners hope the Christmas present in lights at their dock will bring joy to those who pass by this season.

“We are so thankful for the Wrightsville Beach community, Ocean Rescue, and the doctors and to all of our friends and their prayers,” says Kelli. 

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