People who decorate early for Christmas are generally happier. At least, that's what recent studies have shown.
If true, there must be unbridled joy at the Niles home on Keefer Road in Thorold.
What started out as a passion and talent for decorating a Christmas tree has turned into a holiday phenomenon.
Claudia Niles spends six weeks decorating nine trees before hosting an open house for friends, family and co-workers.
She told the Thorold News, “I decorate every year and have an open house, but last year we decided to collect food for Community Care so we’re doing it for a good cause and it seems to be working out.”
Claudia and her husband Mike send out Christmas cards and e-mails with invitations to the open house and erect posters at work announcing the event.
“My mother used to have two trees, so I think the idea came from her. At first I had one, then two and then three and it’s grown into nine trees, including the one outside,” she explained.
In addition to the trees, the house is filled with decorations, including a nativity scene, elves, santas, and banisters adorned by teddy bears.
“I have a full-time job at LHINs (Local Health Integrated Network) so can only decorate after work or on weekends. So it takes about six weeks to complete,” Niles said.
Each tree is hand decorated with individual ornaments attached by florist wire, which are removed after the season. Every year, the trees have a new look and feature a different theme. Among this year's themes are a white tree for their granddaughter and a Mardi Gras-themed tree.
Niles noted, “We visit shops all year long to pick up new decorations as well as garden centres looking for new ideas and we bring them and try to incorporate them into next year’s display.”
But that’s getting much harder to do, without adding another tree, that is.
“I bought this one little ornament and looked at this tree (the main one in their foyer) for 45 minutes trying to find a spot for it, but I couldn’t, because I think this tree is perfect as is, so I ended up hanging it from the hand of an elf upstairs,” she laughed.
Niles said her husband, who is a retired GM worker, does the grunt work.
“We dismantle them; I take the ornaments down in totes and put the trees in our cold room,” explained Mike.
“We have to take them apart because there isn’t enough room to put them away decorated. It looks like a mini forest downstairs with all the bare trees in the cold cellar,” he laughed. “And each year I haul them back upstairs again.”
“We just visited the famed Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre in New York City,” Claudia recounted. With her knack for bringing home ideas, they just might need a bigger cellar next year.