From snowmen to nativity scenes, Carole and Ralph Heeter's West Ellicott home has become a representation of the holiday season.
About 150 snowmen, nearly 40 nativity scenes, including one the size of a matchbox, angels, Santas, nutcrackers, snowglobes and even some of her own cross-stitch creations are on display at Mrs. Heeter's home. But, this work of art is no exhibit, rather it's the spirit of Christmas expressing itself through a woman who loves the holidays.
According to Mrs Heeter, the process of set-up takes nearly three days, but the end result is worth the investment. And, because each item has a story based around its point of origin, such as receiving a gift or making it herself, the display holds a lot of important memories.
At Carole and Ralph Heeter’s West Ellicott home, the spirit of Christmas is celebrated with a collection of holiday decorations.
"I just love the holiday season and the warmth of it," Heeter said. "Many of what I have I keep in their original boxes with notes on them that say where and who they came from - it's like having a little part of them here with me."
The collection of snowmen, for example, began for Mrs. Heeter when she lived in California with her husband, Ralph. Mrs. Heeter had expressed to her friends at work that she missed the snow back home in New York, and so they began collecting snowmen of all kinds to help cheer her up.
"They felt sorry for me because I missed the snow, so they started buying me snowmen - it took off from there," Heeter said.
The nativity scenes didn't start out to be a collection. But, for many years when her kids were little she had one under the Christmas tree, so whenever she saw one she liked it reminded her of past Christmases.
"Nothing that has been collected has started out to be a collection - it just ended up that way," Mrs. Heeter said.
Some of the Santas she has on display she made herself. But, many Santas from her collection have become gifts themselves to be presented to her children or friends.
"A lot of the Santas I did have I gave to my kids when they set up their own homes - but the rest of it they have to wait until I go," Heeter said. "It's also a way of sharing the holidays with the kids even though we are apart."