Christmas decorations are seen at a home on Smart Road in Troy, Ala., Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)
Christmas decorations are seen at a home on Smart Road in Troy, Ala., Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)

Archived Story

ALL OF THE LIGHTS

Published 11:02pm Monday, December 23, 2013

The pair of lighted Santas stands like sentinels at the end of the driveway, welcoming guests with mechanical arms that wave as the figures twist from side-to-side. Just beyond the red-tinseled greeters are a half dozen lighted Christmas trees, a herd of reindeer crafted of white lights and a sleigh, sans the Jolly Ol’ Elf, and a spotlighted seesaw featuring Santa and a trio of reindeer, rocking in a steady rhythm.

For Gene Harrison and his wife, Dorothy, the colorful Christmas display is a simply their way of celebrating the season.

“I try to do something different each year,” said 84-year-old Gene.

His wife, Dorothy, is quick to brag on his efforts. “This just goes to show what you can do with a little imagination and hard work,” she said. “Most of these decorations are things he worked on or repaired.”

From the brightly colored string lights to the Santa Claus windsock and the candy canes lining the sidewalk, there’s no doubt the Harrisons are filled with the Christmas spirit.

“But you have to see the inside,” Harrison said with a smile. “That’s where it really is.”

From a refrigerator magnet that counts down the days until Christmas morning to lighted trees and in the den, the holiday spirit abounds inside the couple’s Smart Road home. But it’s the front room – the Christmas room – that outshines them all.

A white, flocked tree stands tall in the room, decorated in dozens of Santa Claus ornaments, white yarn flowing in the form of beards. “I do something different each year,” Dorothy said. “Some years three tree is all silver, sometimes it’s gold … this year, it was Santa Claus.”

Dozens of interpretations of Santa Claus surround the tree and nearby tables, and all hold surprises: there’s Mr. and Mrs. Claus, dancing side-by-side; musical Santas; lighted Santa Clauses.

“This one is my favorite,” Gene said, reaching to the third row of a tabletop display. He held up a bathing Santa Claus, feet overflowing from the tub. “Let me push this button …”

And Santa began kicking his feet and twisting his towel as he sang “Splish, splash I was taking a bath.”

“I love it,” Gene said laughing. “He’s taking a bath. It’s my favorite.”

Gene’s always been a fan of Christmas. But when he married Dorothy four years ago, the holiday took on a new meaning.

“She loves Christmas,” he said laughing. “This is not near half of it … I don’t have enough electricity to put it all out.”

Dorothy began collecting Christmas decorations years ago. She combines that with her collection of clocks – more than 50 strong. “I don’t know why I started collecting clocks, but I just love them,” she said. “When you collect clocks, you never run out of time.”

She’s known among her friends and family for her collections, and that leads to the unique pieces she has. “I’ll go into a store and they know I collect Santas, so they’ll have something for me.”

And while she loves to collect the images of the season, Dorothy says the biggest thrill is sharing them with her family and others. “The kids will come in here and just play with all these Santas and love it.

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