Originally created 12/12/04

Couple's children always come back to decorate home



For 11 years, Pat and Tom Huckabee's family has convened at Thanksgiving and posed for a family portrait. Once the photographer leaves, the work begins for their four children.

Mrs. Huckabee, who works at Print Express, and Mr. Huckabee, who works at the Savannah River Site, sit back and watch as the children, all in their 20s, deck the halls with cheer.

Mrs. Huckabee said she just stands back as Danielle, who lives in Boston, Elizabeth and Justin, who live in Statesboro, Ga., and Thomas, who lives with them in Augusta, string evergreen, decorate trees and hang wreaths.

"I don't do a bit, because I'm not handy in that respect," Mrs. Huckabee said.

"I don't like to decorate, but they really do, and when it's spread around, it's a lot easier."

The house, tucked off Washington Road near Interstate 20 in west Augusta, gets a makeover on the front and on the first floor. There are wreaths on each of the front eight windows and greenery on the doorway.

Inside, visitors are greeted by even more green. In the living room is a Dickensville village of 30 or so pieces that Thomas has been receiving as gifts from Linda Adams, the family's adopted grandmother, since he was 3. On the other side of the room, a Christmas tree is festooned with wooden, styrofoam and glass snowmen ornaments.

The centerpiece of the dining room is a massive china cabinet. Mrs. Huckabee and her late mother, Brunhilda Hartsworm, bought it for $15 in Amherst, Wis., when Mrs. Huckabee was a teen. It was painted a very 60ish lime green, but refinishing it revealed a fine wooden sheen, and in the hands of the Huckabee children, it has sprouted enough evergreen, gingerbread and yellow sheer ribbon to fill a holiday-theme rain forest.

A matching piece also hangs from the chandelier over the dining room table, which is covered with a green and red tablecloth.

There's another Christmas tree in the kitchen. Mounted on the wall are 32 porcelain Christmas-themed plates from the German manufacturer Bareuther. Mrs. Huckabee began buying them for her mother in 1969, and when her mother died, Mrs. Huckabee inherited the set. She has every plate except 1984, which recently broke.

"Thank God for eBay," she said, laughing.

The main Christmas tree is in the den, next to a mantel decked with stockings. The tree is decorated with ornaments that each child has received every Christmas.

Detailing the different ornaments is like taking a trip back through time - one year Garfield was big; another featured a little train running laps through the center of the ornament.

"Even when they were kids, I always let them decorate it," Mrs. Huckabee said. "Even if it was kind of ugly."

Over the years, the family portrait and the decorating have become as big a part of the holiday as turkey on Thanksgiving and gifts on Christmas.

"This year I said we weren't going to do the portrait, and they said if you don't, we're not coming down," she said with a laugh.

At home with

The Family: Pat and Tom Huckabee and son Thomas. Three of the children no longer live with the Huckabees

The House: Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, 2,600 square feet

It's A Fact: Mrs. Huckabee says the family has yet to see the film I Heart Huckabees, by David O. Russell, but she has used the title as a screen saver on her computer

Reach Patrick Verel at (706) 823-3332 or patrick.verel@augustachronicle.com.