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Holiday collections

Posted December 17, 2014 in Ankeny


“Collectors are happy people.”

            —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Ankeny residents featured in this piece would certainly agree with the above quote — their collections are those that feature the best about the holidays. Whether it is trees, Santas or angels, a collection of holiday items gives a collector a chance to scour shops and boutiques for the best new addition. It also gives family members a chance to add to the collection, making it even more special when it’s displayed for years to come. Collecting holiday pieces can also become a tradition, which is one of the very best ways to celebrate holidays with family and friends.


Christmas year-round

It was 20 years ago when Jackie Caquelin saw a magazine article that featured a woman who decorated her guest room in a Christmas theme. Caquelin has always loved Christmas, and she decided she wanted to do the same for herself in her own bedroom.

Jackie Caquelin has had a Christmas bedroom for more than 20 years. Photo by Todd Rullestad.

Jackie Caquelin has had a Christmas bedroom for more than 20 years. Photo by Todd Rullestad.

            “It just took off from there,” she says. “When I’d go shopping, I’d find something that I thought was perfect, and it grew from there. Every time I move I think, ‘Do I still want to have a Christmas bedroom?’ and I can’t give it up. I love it.”

            Caquelin uses items that are in her bedroom year-round to decorate the rest of the house during the holiday season. She says there are certain things that are always present —a half tree on the wall called a “wall tree” she really loves. She also has a picture her sister gave her of Father Christmas — or St. Nick — as well as a cross-stitch her oldest sister gave her.

            “I always have those up,” she says. “I also have a picture of myself and my sisters when I was probably about 5 years old, and we’re together with the dolls we received at Christmas that year.”

            Caquelin says her room isn’t as elaborately done as it once was. In previous homes she stenciled gold stars and the phrase “To all a good night” on the walls.

            At this point, she isn’t adding a lot to the room. All the big items are done, but she does see small trinkets now and then that remind her of something special —reminders her of her parents or her childhood — and she purchases them.

            Her love of Christmas and her décor have inspired another in her family, too. Her middle sister decided she liked the idea so much she has her own Christmas bedroom as well.

            “It’s my favorite holiday,” she says. “I just wish it could be Christmas all the year through. The family gathering and the good feelings are just so special. And we’re all kids at heart.”


Old St. Nick

Tami Enos has loved Santa Claus as long as she can remember. Many, many years ago she decided to have a Santa-themed Christmas tree, and all of the ornaments on it are depictions of St. Nick. From there, her collection grew and grew, and now she has Santas — both vintage and new — in all shapes and sizes and done by various artists.

Tami Enos collects Santas of every kind. Photo by Todd Rullestad.

Tami Enos collects Santas of every kind. Photo by Todd Rullestad.

            “I started collecting antique Santas because I got some from my grandmother,” she says. “But I have all kinds – Jim Shore, Isabel Bloom, Hallmark Santas, Wal-Mart Santas. My kids give me Santas, and people give me Santa-themed things, so it’s become a tradition.”

            Enos says one of her most special items is a Santa bank from when she was a child. She also has Santa hot cocoa mugs from her childhood as well. She has a special antique Santa that she purchased at an antique show called “Spaghetti Santa” because of the ruffle on his coat.

            Her own kids have adopted the tradition, buying her Santas as gifts, and they love the Santas even more than she knew.

            “My oldest is 30, and recently I tried to downsize the tree because I wanted to get a skinny tree,” she says. “Well, I ended up taking it down because they were all being babies about it and fighting over my ornaments. I always knew they liked it, but I didn’t realize it was that important.”

            One of the kids’ favorite traditions is the pinball Santa ornament. When they would come downstairs for breakfast, Tami would turn on the Christmas tree, and the ornament would make a sound like a pinball machine.

            For the last 25 years, she and a friend have gone out the day after Christmas and buying Santas that have been marked down after the holiday. She says many Santas are themed with what her kids were into at the time, so they have Santas that are playing sports, for example.

            “I have football and basketball and golf Santas, and some day they will take all those with them,” she says. “We have the tradition of going to church on Christmas Eve, and we always read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and have hot chocolate. The kids now are ages 16 to 30, and we have grandbabies now too, so we do ‘The Night Before Christmas’ with them. We just all love this time of year.”


A Christmas village

It was about 20 years ago when Michelle Henderson first noticed the Department 56 Christmas village pieces at a local Hallmark. She was quickly drawn to the North Pole series, inspired by the magical legend of Santa’s North Pole workshop. Whimsical buildings include Santa’s North Pole Office, the Northern Lights Depot and the Polar Plunge Warming Hut. The collection also has accessories and characters, including Santa, Mrs. Claus, snowmen and elves to enhance the collection. She said she started with one that year, and she now has a dozen little houses.

For Michelle Henderson, there was just something special about the North Pole Department 56 collection of Christmas houses. Photo by Todd Rullestad.

For Michelle Henderson, there was just something special about the North Pole Department 56 collection of Christmas houses.
Photo by Todd Rullestad.

            “They’re so detailed and have all the neat pieces with them, so I started with the reindeer house,” she says. “I am one of those people who every year when ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ comes on TV, I still watch it.” 

            Next she got the bell and harness supply store, which went with the reindeer theme. She also has Elfie’s sleds and skates shop, a bakery and a toy store, among others.

            “There’s a whole series where each thing spells out ‘North Pole,’ and they’re really cute,” she says. “There are little people figurines like Mr. and Mrs. Claus. One of the little pieces is the ice chair that Santa sits in, and it’s a year 2000 piece.”

            She says although she’s stopped collecting new pieces, there are a couple that she’d like to get, like Santa’s house. They take up quite a bit of room, and they can be a challenge to set up since they’re delicate. It becomes a rather time-consuming and methodical process — though she admits it is worth it.

            “We always get them out at Thanksgiving,” she says. “And the kids still like to help, even though they’re older now. It’s part of the magic of the season.”


Christmas collections through the years

Until the Victorian era, most Christmas trees were decorated with candles, cookies and fruit, but in the mid-1800s, German craftsmen began producing blown-glass tree ornaments in the shapes of stars, fruit and angels. Thus, the ornament tradition was born. Soon companies such as Waterford and Swarovski produced purely decorative crystal ornaments shaped like Santas, bells and other traditional symbols of the holiday season.

In the 20th century, major retailers like Sears and Montgomery Ward began issuing Christmas catalogs, which themselves are now collectible. Department stores also featured model train sets at Christmas, helping to establish that tradition. Coca-Cola featured Santa Claus heavily in its early advertising, and Coke Christmas items are now highly collectible, as are items as diverse as one-of-a-kind sterling silver tree ornaments, Santa-shaped chocolate molds and vintage Christmas records.

Information courtsey collectorsweekly.com




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