- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (AP) - Debbie French is not really into fall décor.

That’s because she started on her primary decorating project - her 52 Christmas trees - in October.

It takes her about a month to get them all finished, but then French is a person who considers an evening’s entertainment to be decorating a couple of Christmas trees.

But she doesn’t stop with the 52 trees - you’ll also see garlands and wreaths all over the house, even fuzzy Christmas covers on the toilet lids. Beware of those, she said: Apparently their thickness makes it difficult to keep the toilet seat in an upright position. Santa Claus is indeed watching you.

In many homes, 52 trees would be lined up, branch to bulb. But French, a customer service supervisor at Rupp Arena, and her partner, Roy Griffith, a former hardware store owner who now works Rupp Arena security, have a big house, so the trees are spread out - in the living room and home theater, on the landing of the stairs, in bedrooms and bathrooms.

The 52-tree total is up from the 44 trees the pair have had during the past two holiday seasons.

If you have a good-sized bathroom - Griffith and French have several - you can fit several trees in there. One upstairs bathroom has a shoe and jewelry-themed tree that coordinates with the shower curtain, a small tree and the aforementioned fuzzy Christmas toilet seat cover.

A master bath on the main floor has a small Christmas tree perched next to its tub with a view out the window.

In the living room is a tree decorated with gold ornaments. Next to the staircase is an aqua ocean-themed 14-foot tree with a dolphin ornament that the pair struggled to carry back, along with another white tree, in a car from North Carolina.

They got it on sale. The car was small. The trees had to be taken apart and packed into the cramped car, and the two could not see out their rear window all the way home.

Upstairs, past the memory tree with ornaments commemorating dead family members, is the massive Dickens Village, which takes a wall and a half. Dickens Village buildings and displays portray an English village in winter, albeit with some extras. Look carefully at French’s massive display, and you may find a motorcycle rider amidst the rustic villagers, the “Scrooge house” and the tiny recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.

The Dickens Village items are collectible items. French and her late husband, a state trooper, would purchase one each year from the proceeds of his side jobs portraying Santa Claus.

When French and Griffith combined their substantial Christmas collections, French said, “It was overwhelming what we could do.”

French has never met a Christmas tree, even a bent or abandoned one, that she could not rehabilitate and decorate, she said.

“I’m kind of like about Christmas trees like some people are about Bibles,” French said. “You never throw them away.”

She doesn’t stop with decorating her own house: In an alcove of her house sits a tiny purple and silver Christmas tree she decorated for an ailing friend.

French also installs purple and silver Christmas decorations in her daughter Brooke’s Georgetown salon, Hello Beautiful.

University of Kentucky-themed trees abound. A tree upstairs is dedicated to UK football, with an upside-down football Easter basket serving as a tree topper. Downstairs are two more big UK trees along with two small ones.

French and Griffith have more fanciful trees, too: The kitchen boasts a Pillsbury Doughboy-themed tree, in which some of the ornaments make the Doughboy’s trademark squeal. The Doughboy tree is one of French’s favorites.

A nearby bedroom/office has a Garfield and sports tree that reminds French of her children when they were little. A downstairs bathroom includes a tree dedicated to Griffith’s love of the Cleveland Browns, with orange lights. (Griffith is looking for a brown artificial Christmas tree to really make the display pop.)

A downstairs games room hosts a poker-themed tree with dice, cards and poker chips.

A Maker’s Mark-themed tree adorns the laundry room, with red-dipped ornaments and tiny Maker’s Mark sweaters. French calls the Loretto distillery “the cutest place ever was.”

On a cuteness scale, however, her house certainly rates notice.

Each year, the couple hold an open-house party for their friends on the first Saturday of December. Between them, they have seven grandchildren, who consider their house a holiday nirvana.

French and Griffith shop the after-Christmas sales for finds for future holidays. French still hasn’t finished her decorating for this year, although there appears to be a glittering wreath, valance or bit of ribbon on every surface of the house.

“She hasn’t finished,” Griffith said. “There’s a lot of little stuff that goes in.”

This year, they’re seeking a big Christmas tree to set up outdoors for Christmas 2015. French also would like a pink tree to celebrate being a breast cancer survivor.

That would be number 53 and 54, unless you count the as yet undecorated tree on the back deck.

Then it would be number 55.


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, https://www.kentucky.com

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