Decked-out halls - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Decked-out halls

SaddleBrooke home exudes Christmas

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Posted: Sunday, December 21, 2008 12:00 am

Anneliese Snider owns many Santas.

There’s a bicycling Santa, a chef Santa and a drunk Santa. There’s a bear Santa, an elf Santa and a Santa holding doves.

Santa Fe Santa sports fringes and beadwork, and jolly old Saint Nick — an old-fashioned-looking fellow — stands an impressive 4 feet tall.

At Snider’s house, everyone gets into the spirit of Christmas. Even the serene Buddhist statue out front dresses like the Claus.

The interior designer has gone bonkers over Christmas for years, though this is her first year to fully decorate her SaddleBrooke home. For her, the joy is in the decorating process.

“I like to create,” she said. “When I get those creative juices flowing, I feel such fulfillment.”

Snider’s love of holly wreaths and Christmas dolls goes back to celebratory childhood memories during wintertime in Colombia. As a young girl, she woke up on the morning of Jan. 6 to find a stocking full of goodies by her bed — nuts, apples, raisins and all kinds of enticing sweets.

Her parents both hailed from Europe, and family tradition called for tree decorating on Christmas Eve. The tree always held real candles, flickering gently and clipped in place.

When her own children reached their teenage years, Snider decided to use her newly secured free time to transform her California home into a holiday museum. The mantel, alone, took an entire day. The tree could eat up a week.

In the late 1980s, the country club in Snider’s community hired her to do the holiday decorations.

Later, a bed and breakfast in San Rafael, Calif., asked her to deck the entire place. This became an annual Christmas tradition, which she carried out with a friend.

“It took us four days to decorate, and we stayed for a week,” Snider said. “We did our Christmas shopping, visited the wine country and went antiquing.”

Over years of attentiveness to seasonal décor, the interior designer picked up hundreds of Christmas items at wholesale costs.

She picked up nutcrackers as tall as 5-year-old children and a motorized seesaw for two decked-out bears. She picked up one elegant angel for her mantel, though she really wanted two. A friend bought the second one, though, and now they have this tie at Christmas-time — matching angel dolls.

When Snider’s son and daughter moved away from home and started visiting for holidays, she had more incentive each winter to throw her heart into decorations.

“When you know someone’s coming, you go all out,” she said.

This year, her second in SaddleBrooke, Snider had a different motive.

“This year, I did it because I wanted to see how it all would look here,” she said.

Although Snider has been known to leave her decorations up through July — “People kept saying they were going to come by and see them” — she said this year they probably won’t last long past the New Year.

For New Year’s Eve, she plans to pull out her Santa Fe Santa and create a table centerpiece around it. She’ll make it bright and cheerful, and she’ll serve corn tamales.

People milling around will see the 22 Christmas dolls in her kitchen — many tucked into little nooks — and her ceiling-high Christmas tree covered with electrical candles.

They probably won’t see the floor-to-ceiling boxes in the garage that store all the magic at holiday’s end. And they probably won’t be around on Nov. 1 of next year when all the boxes will likely come out.

“This place was just a battlefield,” Snider said, describing its condition this past Nov. 1.

But if you’re aiming to create great things, you have to be willing to sometimes make a mess.

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