The Christmas season is Sue Campbell’s favorite time of year, and her house is a vivid display of why it means so much to her.
The Hoschton woman and pre-K teacher has five large Christmas trees at her house, plus smaller trees in her three children’s rooms. Each holds ornaments that evoke vivid memories of family and holidays gone by. Numerous Santa Clauses painted by her father line the mantle and countertops.
She and her husband, Joe, keep the Christmas cards they receive prominently displayed in their stairwell all year, until they take them down each Thanksgiving to make room for the new arrivals.
“It’s awesome. We come down the steps every day, and we get to see all those sweet faces,” Sue Campbell said. “That’s our family. That’s our friends. That’s what life’s about.”
The Campbells send out more than 300 Christmas cards each year.
Their kitchen is also a busy place this time of year, filled with baked goodies of the season.
On a small table in the living room sits a container with a few little Christmas items in it. And if someone acts ugly, they have to sprinkle themselves “with Christmas cheer.”
While she enjoys plenty of Christmas’ trappings, the season serves as an important reminder for Campbell, whose grandfathers served in World War II. Her father, uncles and husband have all served in the military, as well. She recalls her grandmother saying that “the constant of your life is Christ, and he came in the form of a baby — of an innocent, tiny baby that had to stay healthy, had to grow up, had to do life like you.”
The Campbells’ largest Christmas tree, in their living room, features a wide array of ornaments — one of the lighthouse where they honeymooned, another of the Macy’s clock from Marshall Field’s in Chicago.
Then there’s the tree in her kitchen that includes some Starbucks ornaments that serve as reminders of Black Friday shopping.
But it’s one of the trees near her front door that most captivates Campbell. It’s filled with ornaments made by her children Savannah, 19, Emmie Wynn, 9, and Reid, 7.
“It’s my heart,” she said. “This is their Christmas joy.”
Another tree near the front of the house has a variety of Santa Claus ornaments. Some have come from her students, who through the years learned how much she enjoyed the jolly old fellow. She said that tree reminds her of the unsung “Santa Clauses that help Christmas miracles and dreams come true for other people.”
The only living tree is on the porch.
In the loft where guests stay is a smaller tree filled with snowman ornaments and topped by a snowman hat. It’s a nod to Campbell’s mother, who is an avid collector of snowman ornaments.
“Everything we do has meaning behind it,” Campbell said.
There’s also a small tree in the stairwell featuring Barbie ornaments collected by Savannah through the years.
But one of Campbell’s favorite parts of Christmas is the Advent wreath and how much her children embrace it.
Looking back, she remembers having a huge tree with 10 ornaments when she and her husband first got married. The additional trees through the years were a natural response to a growing ornament collection. Amazingly, she said, the family has purchased few of the ornaments, having many of them handed down or receiving them as gifts.
Some people ask how long it takes to put up so many decorations. Campbell said that after having done it for years it takes about two days.
“We know where it goes now,” she said.