Originally created 12/16/01

Spirit of the season



Christmas is such a favorite holiday of Judy Whaley that part of her home is devoted to keeping the yuletide spirit all year round.

"It's Christmas every day," Mrs. Whaley said.

Inside the "display" room on the second story is a collection of Department 56 figurines.

"We have about $15,000 invested in here," she said.

The collection began with the purchase of one piece, Victoria Station, in 1993, and has grown over the years to fill the tiny room.

Mrs. Whaley's husband, Steve, built the display tables for the three collections, made up of hundreds of pieces.

The North Pole is a snowy wonderland with Santa riding around town on his handcar. A Real Plastic Snow Factory ensures the white stuff will always be on the ground. The North Pole has a candy factory and an ice rink.

An ice palace and an ice castle are part of the collection.

Next to the North Pole is the Christmas in the City collection, filled with people preparing for Christmas. Loved ones are greeted at Victoria Station.

Sometimes, the Whaleys have a little fun with their collection.

The driver of the On Time Delivery Truck got a little distracted in delivering holiday packages and ran into a traffic light post. There were no injuries.

From Christmas in the City, the scene shifts to the traditional Dickens Village.

Another Department 56 collection is found downstairs in the great room. Flickering orange lights inside the tiny buildings give the image of firelight as O Little Town of Bethlehem prepares for the birth of Christ.

It takes the Whaleys at least a month to decorate for Christmas. They begin decorating their 4,700-square-foot Evans home soon after Halloween.

Figures of golfing Santas in the great room bridge the gap between the room's golf theme and Christmas.

The Christmas tree has a Disney theme, with a Santa Mickey looking down on the presents from the top of the tree. Ornaments depicting Goofy and Winnie the Pooh also are part of the decor.

A snow family, created by Mr. Whaley, sits near the stairs.

Mr. Whaley, who has a kiln in the garage, has created many ceramic figurines that accent the other Christmas pieces in the home.

Many of his works can be seen in the Victorian parlor.

With bouncy curls and lots of lace, the heads of Victorian porcelain dolls adorn the white Christmas tree in the mauve-and-Burgundy-toned room. The tree is dotted with bows and Santa ornaments.

There's also a collection of ceramic Santas in the room. These are not the modern version dressed in red and white fur. They are trimmed in pink and purple to match the hues of the room.

An abundance of dolls, from Victorian ladies such as Josephine in her rich Burgundy dress reclining with a tea cup in her hand to the Old World Santa and Mrs. Claus, keep watch on the room.

Evergreen swags and a Burgundy-and-gold leaf ceiling medallion accent the parlor.

Painted in Burgundy, the couple's cozy kitchen features a collection of Fitz and Floyd pieces on the counter and baker's rack.

Oversize Santa hats provide a soft backrest at the kitchen table, where two more of Mr. Whaley's smiling Santa and Mrs. Claus ceramic pieces rest.

Dated Santa Claus plates hang near the refrigerator.

"It just gets bigger and bigger and more expensive each year," said Mrs. Whaley. "It started as a hobby, but it gets addictive."

Reach Charmain Brackett at (803) 441-6927 or czbrackett@hotmail.com.