Couple goes all out with Christmas decor

Published 12:01 am Thursday, December 20, 2007

NATCHEZ — The Christmas spirit is alive and well in the Gammill residence.

Barnett and Thelma Gammill have been married for 55 years and collecting Christmas decorations for 30 of them. Each room in their house holds a different theme, and meaning to them, creating a magnificent winter wonderland. The entire house has numerous Christmas scenes on every tabletop and in every corner.

“I just had so many different things, I decided to separate them,” Thelma said.

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In the living room alone, there are over 40 ornaments, statues and representations of Santa. That is only the beginning. Each bedroom in the house holds a different scene involving angels, snowmen and Christmas scenes.

“The Department 56 angels are my favorite; they are all so beautiful,” Thelma said.

The Gammills began seriously collecting when their niece opened Santa’s Station. With all of the decorations, the Gammills had to call in extra help.

“We have storage in our shed and we finally had to buy a storage unit,” Barnett said.

Due to many years of experience, the Gammill’s have their decorating down to a science.

The entire process begins in October when Barnett brings in the first box of decorations.

“I bring in one box at a time, and when she empties that one I bring in another one,” Barnett said.

They also have a time frame.

“This year I wanted to be finished by Thanksgiving,” Thelma said. “And I made it happen.”

The Gammill residence boasts two Christmas trees, each adorned with ornaments from various people and countries.

“We have ornaments from Thailand, Germany and Korea,” Thelma said. “This tree is so sentimental because travelers bring me ornaments and many of them have died.”

Thelma even has a specialized Christopher Radko ornament that says “Baby Ruth,” which is her nickname.

The most impressive display in the house is the Department 56 “Snow Village” that depicts Charles Dickens’ imaginary village from “A Christmas Carol.” The entire village takes up the majority of her front room and spills over into her kitchen. It is complete with cars, deer, trees, hills and snow. Each section of the town depicts a different scene, one house has dancing people inside.

Barnett helps keep the scene “alive” by checking and hiding all of the electrical wires.

“I like to use my imagination when I am creating the scenes,” Thelma said.

One table in the room is dedicated to the nativity scene, which is equally as intricate. There are over 72 pieces in the display, and the first piece she bough was the “Curiosity Shop.”

“I am so proud of all of it,” Thelma said.

Her biggest supporter is her husband.

“She does all of this by herself,” Barnett said. “She has a real talent for it.”

This year the Gammills have welcomed 130 visitors to see their display, and last year they saw 199.

They even keep a table full of food just in case a visitor might show up. Despite its popularity, this year is the Gammills last year to put up the decorations.

“I miss it now, very much. I get depressed when I think about it,” Thelma said. “We both realize we should do something different. We will put up our tree but nothing else.”