Lights, trees and garland – oh my!

Photos of Mary Jo Tsimboukis by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer Many of us decorate for the holidays. But some of us decorate more than others. Meet two Fort Wayne women who, by their own admission, qualify as “enthusiastic decorators.”

“There is nothing like sitting down at night surrounded by the soft glow of twinkling lights and the smell of a real Christmas tree in the air. It’s so cozy,” says local gal, Mary Jo Tsimboukis.

The day after Thanksgiving typically finds her husband and their two sets of twins (6-year-old boys and 2-year-old girls) loading up and going to the tree farm in search of “that perfect 10-11 foot Fraser fir tree.” For their family the tree is “the focal point” of their extensive decorating.

Copious amounts of garlands of evergreen intertwine with the twinkling white lights wrapping the banisters and shelves. No flat surface escapes attention: “Every table, counter and shelf is covered with winter floral arrangements, nativity scenes, reindeer, angels, snowmen and more candles.” The mantle is not neglected. Evergreen garlands rope across it, mingled with white lights.

As would be expected, one tree is certainly not enough for this holiday enthusiast: “Our second artificial tree is set up in the basement.” She gives her children the freedom to decorate the tree in any way they wish.

Of course the outdoors of their holiday home is not neglected. Wreaths and urns, lit trees and evergreen and holly plentifully adorn the house. “And I’m always looking to add new things each year.”

This yen for decorating comes from her mother’s example. “I grew up with my mom always decorating her house for the seasons and loved how cozy and memorable it was during the holidays.” To her surprise, “Last year, I wowed my mom who is the master decorator!”

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“There is nothing like sitting down at night surrounded by the soft glow of twinkling lights and the smell of a real Christmas tree in the air. It’s so cozy,” says local gal, Mary Jo Tsimboukis, who has been decorating for the holidays since she moved out and got her own place at 23. She now has a walk-in closet that is filled to the top with Christmas decorations!

Jennifer Jones, also of Fort Wayne, is not sure where her love of decorating comes from. “My family has always been light to modest with Christmas decor. I didn’t start out this way.” Her large collection has been “just an accumulation over time.” From early on, though “I do remember being a child and thinking how neat it was that some people had a tree in every room.” She kept this in mind when it came time to decorate her own home.

The stars of her massive collection are two special trees: “I have two main trees: a rustic tree with white and country lights and all handmade ornaments, and a regular tree with colored, and flicker lights and unique glass bulbs.”

The trees don’t stop there: “Then we have a tree in the hallway and one in our girls’ room. Those trees are just lighted.” Because of the size of their house, “we have to move a couple of pieces of furniture out” to accommodate the trees.

Mary-Jo-Tsimboukis

The day after Thanksgiving typically finds Mary Jo Tsimboukis, her husband and their two sets of twins (6-year-old boys and 2-year-old girls) setting up for Christmas. She says decorating the house is one of her creative outlets.

In addition to her indoor Christmas tree farm, the rest of the house gets decorated as well. “I change all of my wall decor and knick knack items too” to seasonally themed ones. And yes, the outdoors gets its fair share as well.

Her decorations have been an investment: “I have spent a small fortune on my glass bulbs.” But now that she has bought them, the decorations don’t cost her much more than the price of the extra electricity every year.

No doubt in part because of the joy she takes in decorating, the holidays are her favorite: “I just love that time of year! I always have. I’m not sure if it’s the lights and music or the gatherings and festivities. It’s magical to me.” Though she and her partner have twin toddler daughters she says “I don’t believe in Santa Claus. But I believe in the power of giving, and surprise.”

Whether it’s delighting family and friends who visit, or those of us who merely catch a glimpse as we drive by, these women are indeed “enthusiastic decorators.”

Photos of Mary Jo Tsimboukis by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer

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About Drema Drudge

Drema Drudge received her MFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University and has had her fiction most recently published in The Louisville Review, Mused, ATG, Mother Earth News, and Penumbra. She is a frequent contributor to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Drema is married to musician Barry Drudge. They have two grown children, Mia and Zack. Feel free to visit Drema's website where she explores her passion for writing about art at dremadrudge.com.

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