Some may find decorating for Christmas a hassle, but Janice Thornton and Willa Brayboy find joy in decking their halls for the holiday season.
Thornton loves Christmas trees. So much so that she has 29 of them in her home. They come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from one that is 9 feet tall to little ceramic ones she made herself.
A very creative person, Thornton likes having numerous trees that she can decorate in a variety of ways. Included in her Christmas tree collection is a classic angel tree, a whimsical pink tree and a child-friendly Santa tree.
However, the trees that probably mean the most to her are the ones that hold family pictures. “This one has pictures of my grandchildren on it,” says Thornton, gently touching one of the ornaments. “And this one has pictures of my children. I have two kids, a boy and girl, and I’ve had eight foster kids.”
As the wife of a Vietnam veteran, Thornton makes sure to remember the troops in her decorating. “This ornament here,” stresses Thornton, pointing to one on her Santa tree, “is in honor of my son-in-law. He’s in the Army in the Delta Force.”
Many may wonder if decorating 29 Christmas trees is worth the effort, but Thornton is quick to say that it is, especially when decorating holds deep personal meaning. “My mother’s favorite holiday was Christmas. It was so important to her. She did as much as she could even though she couldn’t afford much,” says Thornton. “I know she’d get a kick out of all this if she could see it.”
Thornton has already bought another Christmas tree to use in her collection next year.
Sometimes it’s not about how many decorations you have but how much they mean. As she sits next to her Christmas tree, Willa Brayboy reflects on how especially thankful she is this Christmas.
Last year, she was in the hospital in a coma that lasted eight days. She was even on life support. Amazingly, Brayboy improved and was eventually sent to Mary Gran Nursing Center for rehabilitation where she learned how to walk again. She was back at home in time for Christmas but her health problems limited how much she could do for the holidays.
“Last Christmas I was recuperating,” says Brayboy. “Because of that, we didn’t really do much decorating.”
After missing her decorations last year, Brayboy is excited about getting to do it right this Christmas. “Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love it,” she exclaims. “This year, I got to put up my tree, but my favorite decoration is the lights on my house. It’s so pretty at night when it’s lit up. If I couldn’t have anything else, I’d have the lights.”
Brayboy added a new manger scene to her Christmas decoration collection this year, and she is already planning for Christmases to come. “I want to start a Christmas savings. I’d like to get some more lights. I’d also like a have a little barn to put the manger in.”
In addition to decorating, Brayboy enjoys cooking for the holidays. “I love to make cakes. Chocolate cakes are my favorite.”
She also loves to give generously. “I love shopping and buying gifts for people. I love giving. I’d rather give a gift than receive one.”
It’s in these simple aspects of Christmas that Brayboy finds the most joy. Just sitting on the porch at night and looking at her Christmas lights is so meaningful this year. “God brought me out of that (sickness). He woke me up that morning,” says Brayboy. “It makes this Christmas special.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at email@example.com.