Couple gets crafty to share Christmas spirit

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 10, 2007

It only takes one glance at Ferd Beer’s front yard on Susan Circle in Vidalia to know he likes to decorate for Christmas.

But Beer doesn’t just like to decorate — he likes to build those decorations himself.

From the plywood Christmas tree standing in the yard to the train — the face of the conductor is his grandson, painted by Beer’s wife Bernice — to thigh-high nutcrackers guarding his front door, all of the decorations were handcrafted by either Ferd or Bernice Beer.

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Since he retired as Natchitoches postmaster in 1986, Beer has been building yard ornaments in his backyard shop.

“We started out with one little saw and got into the craft business, so now we spend our money on tools,” he said. “I like wood, she (Bernice) likes wood, so this is what we do.”

Though their living room has a few pieces of their handicraft — a china cabinet, a drop-leave table, a picture frame — it is the backyard that speaks volumes about their woodworking hobby.

Leaning against the back of the house and a backyard workshop are dozens of Christmas yard decorations, as well as a few Thanksgiving and Halloween cutouts.

Gesturing over to a shed in the corner of the yard, Ferd Beer said, “That thing is plumb full of decorations we didn’t use.”

In the workshop, he held up a pattern for a large wreath, drilled with little holes so it could be filled with blinking yard lights.

“It takes about a week to make one of these,” he said. “Cutting it out is not that big of a deal, but you have to paint it before you can drill the holes for the lights.”

The inspiration for a new yard ornament can come from anywhere, Ferd Beer said.

“We might just see a picture or an advertisement and get an idea,” he said.

Through the years, the Beer yard has had several themes, from a Peanuts theme to penguins to a motorcycle-riding Santa.

“If it pertains to Christmas in some way, we’ve got it,” Ferd Beer said.

And, with all of its decorations, the Beer house has gotten some attention.

“People don’t ride around and look at (Christmas) lights like they used to, but in the past we’ve had 20 or 30 cars a night come through the circle,” he said.