By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
Glenda Gavin has a Christmas tree in every room. There’s one in the hallway near the entrance, then another in the piano room. The kitchen, which doubles as the “nutcracker room,” also has one, and the living room has two. All in all, there are 10 trees in total.
Well, 11 actually, she says, if you count the tree in the bathroom, “but I don’t decorate that one myself, I just plug it in.” Oh, and 12 if you count the porcelain tree her daughter made.
For Glenda, Christmas is the best time of the year.
“It’s the Lord’s birthday, and he’s the savior of the world, that’s the best gift anyone could have,” she says. “I love the giving, I love the family, I just love Christmas.”
And it shows.
Glenda, and her husband, Glen, might have the most decked out Christmas house in Liberty Hill every year.
Such is obvious even from the outside of their vintage home downtown. Every edge and corner of the white-pillared structure is draped with brilliant lights. Every window has a wreath. Lit candy canes line the walkway to the door, and sitting on either side are two more trees (not included in the 12).
New this year to the outdoor display is the vintage Ford Model T car, also decked out in Christmas lights, which the couple rushed to get ready for display in time for the holiday season.
Christmas for the Gavins begins sometime in late October, when the first boxes come out of the plus-sized storage closet they built onto the house years ago— built large specifically, she says, for this very purpose.
For 10 months out of the year, the boxes stay stacked all the way up to the vaulted ceiling. Then she takes them out, one at a time, “Living room,” “Bedroom,” “Hallway,” and more.
Usually it takes her about a week to unpack them all, “but if I started and didn’t stop, I could do it in three or four days,” she says.
Whole boxes are filled with mostly ornaments for the many trees stored separately in a storage building.
All the trees are set to light up with a remote clicker, and all the trees have themes. Glenda has a tree for only silver and glass ornaments, another for antiques, and another for nutcrackers. One has only hand-made ornaments, which she likes to knit slowly while watching television.
One of the trees commemorates her 40 years spent working for the post office, the longest career by far for a woman who worked all her life through every summer and every Christmas since she was 13.
“I loved working at Christmas time,” she says. “I know it’s not that way for a lot of people, but for me it’s just so cheery.”
She retired from the post office 11 years ago. She would’ve have done so a few months sooner than she did, she says, but she wanted to wait until after Christmas.
Christmas Eve is for Glenda the culmination of it all. Her family comes to their home, they exchange gifts (stored under one tree), and all go to a Christmas Eve church service together.
The festivities includes her two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren — 10 in total. But more than that actually, she says, because you have to count the grandkids’ husbands and significant others. Then her grandson’s girlfriend has a little niece, and she’ll probably come this year. Then there are other family friends that come over every year, and then one of those friends has a girlfriend now, and she has a little boy.
“It just keeps growing and growing every year,” she says.
The decorations however, might have reached a saturation point. By now they add only sparingly, usually only when a light strand or ornament breaks and needs to be replaced. Most of the items they display have been collected over the better part of five decades. Before then, too, but a storage mishap involving field mice in 1970 forced them to start over.
Most of it has been her work, as a life-long “junker,” or antiques collector. Her husband Glen is “not as nuts as I am” about Christmas, she says. Still, he hangs the lights outside every year for her.
This year she didn’t ask him to. Still she found them up anyway halfway through November, probably two weeks before most people got theirs out of storage.
“I think he’d miss them if he didn’t do it,” she says.
In line with his more traditional attitude about Christmas, however, he opted not to turn them on until Thanksgiving.
The interior meanwhile had already been decorated by Glenda for weeks.
“When I’ve got this much to put up, and because I love it as much as I do, I want as much time as I can to enjoy it,” she says.
The trees come down after New Year’s.
Look for the Gavin home on Loop 332 and Munro Street during Liberty Hill’s Glow-in-the-Dark Christmas Parade on Dec. 9.