Flanked by reindeer and gingerbread men, snowflakes and, at dusk, twinkling lights, Santa’s Bed and Breakfast Inn sits off Holly Springs Road in Gillsville.
In the off-season, the two-story abode is simply the home of Denver and Sharon Tritt; but come October, every nook and cranny enters its own holiday dimension, boasting ornamented trees, Christmas village scenes and other decorations that, were the home actually open to overnight guests, would be fit for one particularly jovial caller to hang his coat.
The couple has heralded the Christmas season this way for roughly 20 years, starting with just enough decorations to fill two or three boxes that now claim space in about 50, according to Denver.
But their love for Christmas and its festive decorations traces back half a century, when the U.S. Air Force took the newlyweds to Sherman, Texas; that Christmas season, a lone Tannenbaum evoked a sense of comfort and joy for a young couple who’d never been so far from home.
“That’s my start with Christmas,” Sharon said.
For the Tritts, who hold tightly to their Christian faith, Christmas holds deep meaning.
“The main thing is Jesus,” Sharon said.
Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer in October and has undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments. With the possibility of surgery and radiation looming on the horizon, the couple doesn’t know what the future may hold for their tradition. One thing, however, is certain: their faith is seeing them through.
“Well, it’s kind of hard, but, you gotta have strength — strength from the Lord and lots of prayers,” Sharon said. “We’ve had lots of prayers, and I feel them. It’s just a blessing — people are just so kind and nice and loving. It warms my soul.”
A matriarch to two children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Sharon said her diagnosis may have knocked her down initially, but it won’t rob her of the blessings she’s encountered through the journey.
“That therapy wipes your soul out; that’s the way I felt,” she said. “But I realized, ‘I’ve got to put soul back in me’ — because if you don’t have soul, you don’t have anything. I love the Lord and I love what life stands for. After the first chemo, I saw the light: ‘You can do this, with lots of prayers.’ Everybody I know is praying (for me), and that’s what picks you up.”
Rather than losing the Christmas spirit to adulthood and cynicism, Sharon’s has only grown stronger, and she hopes to pass it along.
“It just gets closer and dearer to your heart; you want to hold onto that magic, you want to hold onto the things that have made you happy over all the years and take that with you,” Sharon said. “You don’t have to be down and out — there’s joy. I feel that in me, and I just love to share it with everybody.”To pay a visit to Santa’s Bed and Breakfast Inn, contact the Tritts at 770-532-2894.