Clyde Beal: Couple provide Christmas in every room
Amid the manicured lawns, an East Pea Ridge neighborhood seems in a festive spirit with the usual seasonal message of red, green and blue lights scattered along various front yard hedges. Christmas trees have filled up the living room windows, and many of the homes have the traditional red ribbon wreath hanging from the front door. It all looks like traditional Christmas decorations, except for the home of Ed and Vicki Smith.
The first indication that something is different at the Smith's house during this time of year are the two beautifully decorated seven foot revolving Christmas trees in front of the matching downstairs windows. There are 26 more trees throughout the house: a total of 29, if you count the one on the outdoor back patio.
The front driveway and walk are lined with large candy canes connected by lengths of green garland. A large nativity scene in the front yard is one of a dozen or more scattered throughout the home. Santa Claus with his sleigh and reindeer, along with a revolving reindeer merry go round have all but filled the front yard.
What began with a single Christmas tree 12 years ago, has grown into a display that now begins to saturate the entire house from the first of November up into January, and it literally takes weeks of continuous love to complete.
"Our son works for the electric company," said Mrs. Smith. "He says because of me, he gets a Christmas bonus. But honestly, we don't notice an increase in the electric bill because we are on the budget."
In addition to the decorations at their home, The Smiths still find time to decorate their church, dress up in their Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus outfits to visit families with young children and attend area Christmas celebrations and parties.
"It takes Ed and me over a 100 hours to get everything up," said Mrs. Smith. "The living room tree alone takes 8 hours to decorate. Each ornament is individually wrapped to prevent being damaged. They all come out of their boxes for Christmas, and go back into the same box for storage"
And yes, there are large storage spaces for all those boxes when it's time to store it all away. One is over the garage, and another storage area is located in the upstairs attic.
Aside from an unknown number of Santa Claus figures that do everything from sing and dance, sail in hot air balloons, and climb tight ropes; there are winter villages in the laundry room, a Frosty the snow man in the refrigerator, who begins singing when the door opens. The kitchen silverware drawer is stocked full of colorful Christmas knives, forks and spoons, there is even a Christmas tree with Santa's wash hanging out to dry over the clothes dryer.
Going upstairs, each step actuates an animated character ready to fill you with the sounds of Christmas. At the top of the stairs is a life size five foot Santa that will sing his heart out with songs of the season the minute he knows your there.
The Dale Earnhardt room has its own Christmas tree decorated completely with Earnhardt memorabilia. There are six snow covered villages in this room, along with an extensive collection of NASCAR items that even includes a Dale Earnhardt bed spread.
The master bedroom is nothing short of a winter wonderland. Special seasonal battery powered curtains with multi colored lights sewn in the fabric now hang from the windows. There is also a matching bed spread with -- you guessed it -- the same glowing lights. Even a mounted Christmas tree hanging on the wall over the headboard. To accentuate Mrs. Smith's extensive owl collection, the tree in this room is decorated entirely of owls. The master bathroom would make ole Saint Nick the king of the throne, with the snow flake covered shower curtain, small antique village and the snow man covered commode lid. Even in Ed's computer room, his monitor is now bordered with a string of red lights.
Then there is the red room with an assortment of red hats displayed on the shelf, and another Christmas tree decorated entirely in red. Because Mrs. Smith is a retired educator, there is also an upstairs tree decorated with an educational theme.
"When I was young, we always had a live tree for Christmas," said Mr. Smith. "My dad and I would always go out in the country and chop one down. I guess I have always loved Christmas. I suppose that may be one of the reasons we both enjoy decorating for the holidays now."
Something else the Smith's don't lose sight of, and that's the reason for the season. Every room in the house has at least one nativity scene, some rooms have more than one.
Did we mention the well decorated patio out back with the lighted choo choo Christmas train, another decorated tree, and brightly wrapped railings? And how many families have their own scaffolding just for hanging high overhead seasonal lighting, yep -- the Smith's do.
There is even a Marshall University tree that hangs upside down from the ceiling in the corner of the dining room. The thought occurred, why the tree was upside down in a corner-- but I never asked.
There are well over a dozen villages throughout the house, some with animated ski slopes. There is a complete flying sleigh with all the reindeer suspended by thin thread that's nearly impossible to see. Overhead ceiling fans with pictures of Santa on every blade. Even Snoopy and the Peanut characters have a place in the scheme of the season in the family room bookcase along with more miniature decorations.
"We get so much joy from friends and neighbors who visit," said Mrs. Smith. "When we get told that we have made someone's Christmas brighter, it really makes it all worthwhile."
Did we mention that it takes 30 minutes to turn on all the music, the mechanical movement, lights, and singing?
There isn't a room in this house that doesn't engulf the season of Christmas. Walls with the pictures of Christmas are everywhere.
Speaking of walls, as you walk up the stairs, between the ribbons and bows, are a collage of framed pictures of their children and grandchildren hanging on the walls. All of which tells a visitor that just maybe, just maybe, Granma and Papaw Smith are getting a little help with the decorations.
Clyde Beal is an area freelance writer looking for those who volunteer their time in the service of others. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.