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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

A Christmas wonderland

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Photos courtesy Yvonne Rowland Each year Yvonne Rowland transforms her home into a Christmas wonderland. In the foreground are two magnificent Fitz and Floyd porcelain figures, Father Christmas and a deer. The tree in the background is The Disney Tree, de

When Christmas is approaching every year, Yvonne Rowland's world takes on added energy and excitement.

She, and friends who help her, pull down from her garage and the loft in her office boxes filled with Christmas tree branches and boxes and boxes and boxes of ornaments, nativity scenes, Father Christmas depictions, and figurines of many characters familiar to our Christmas celebrations.

Yvonne was born and raised in Delta County. She grew up in Cory.

"So much of this -- my excitement about decorating for Christmas -- I credit to my mother," Yvonne says. "It started when I was growing up. My mother put a lot of focus on the Christmas tree.

"Dad would put Santa and his reindeers up on the roof. There was a spruce tree in the yard and he decorated it with a string of lights. As the spruce tree grew so did the number of strings of lights it took to decorate it."

Yvonne's mother -- the late LaVerne Lee -- was referred to by many in the community as "the Hallmark Lady."

LaVerne Lee worked in retail over 30 years. She worked at Mr. K's Hallmark for years and continued working there when Mr. K's was purchased by Ron Davis and renamed Ryan's Hallmark. Mrs. Lee retired at the age of 88 because of her health.

The majority of the ornaments with which Yvonne decorates are from Hallmark. Friends have given her ornaments over the years but they stay away from Hallmark ornaments, not knowing which Hallmark ornaments Yvonne will choose that year. She has three ornaments that were her grandmother's.

The Santa Tree, on prominent display, was Yvonne's mother's tree and Yvonne places her mother's ornaments on it. It displays Santas of all descriptions as well as other ornaments.

"My girlfriend and I had this competition going every year about which of us would be the first to bring my mother a new Santa ornament," Yvonne said.

"All the years I was growing up we continued to expand the number of ornaments on my mother's tree."

Yvonne's dad died when Yvonne was 23.

Years ago Yvonne decorated two live trees every year but now she decorates artificial trees. This year she is decorating five tall trees and six small trees.

She has lived in her house for 36 years and in every room she joyfully decorates in celebration of Christmas.

"I try to focus on the birth of Christ," she says.

She has several nativity scenes which she leaves up year-round. Her sister Nadine, who lives in Denver, gave her a nativity set in pewter. Another set has all the characters cast in white.

A display of three angels, at the touch of a button, proclaims, "Gloria In Excelsis Deo."

When approaching Yvonne's house, it is apparent "this is the house." Outside decorations declare it and, in the window sills of several tall windows, a line of Father Christmas figurines affirms it.

As you step into the house, gentle music from solar wind chimes indicate the season. The chimes are a gift from Jim and Tracy Munson.

Just inside the door, Norman Rockwell holds forth through figurines depicting Santa's activities: Santa writing down a child's name, Santa reading a child's letter, Santa making his lists, Santa making toys, Santa looking over a sleeping child, Santa putting toys on a tree, Santa enjoying milk and cookies, and Santa with his boots off sleeping in his chair.

Look right and your eyes will feast on a multitude of ornaments you may recognize. This is the Hallmark Tree, spilling over with Hallmark ornaments.

There is a table containing all Barbie ornaments. Another table features snow babies, little porcelain angel babies. Yvonne has several hundred snow babies and they are displayed in various places.

Six small trees with miniature Hallmark ornaments appear throughout the house.

The Red and White Candy Cane Tree stands tall in its red-and-whiteness and at its base is a light-and-motion collection of snowmen given to Yvonne over the years by her mother. Yvonne says, "This is a special memory. I know my toys and I know where they came from.

"Children love to play with the snowmen. The snowmen all do different motions and children love to push all the buttons at once.

"Not one of the snowmen has ever been damaged. I have two kitties and they don't bother anything."

To the left of the Red and White Candy Cane Tree is a collection of bear-and-boy figurines and a music box: bear and boy ice skating, bear and boy sledding, bear and boy caroling, bear and boy reading a Christmas story, bear and boy having a snack of peppermint candy at the North pole, and bear carrying boy home on his back. Using the figurines, Yvonne tells a story to children as the music box plays.

On a chest to the right of the Candy Cane Tree sits the pewter nativity set from her sister.

Across the room on another chest are two magnificent Fitz and Floyd porcelain figures, Father Christmas and a deer.

"David Mangum used to drool over these two figures," Yvonne said, pausing to express her personal loss with David's passing and the community's loss.

Just beyond these figures the Disney Tree sits, providing a home for many Disney figures -- Mickey Mouse, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Happy Feet, Shrek, and others.

Also across the room is a gold and white Father Christmas, a gift to Yvonne from a friend. Alongside that Father Christmas are several small angels. "Made for me over the years by a friend," Yvonne says.

A wall hanging given to her 30 years ago by a friend reads, "Come Let Us Adore Him."

In her bedroom where there is adequate space, Yvonne places the Serenity Tree.

"It is a gray silver tree," she explains, "with white lights. The ornaments are silver, blue and white. There are mirrors on three sides of the room and the lights reflect over and over and over."

And the bathroom? The bathroom is decorated in red and green, with a small tree, a teddy bear, a vase of poinsettias, poinsettia-trimmed lights around the mirror, teddy bear and Santa wall hangings, and red and green towels.

The kitchen has a half-tree on a cabinet door, angels in both windows, and an angel on the microwave.

It takes Yvonne 50 to 60 hours to complete her wonderland decorating. As to how long it takes her to take down and put away the decorations, she says, "I don't care, but I do have Valentine's Day as a goal."

Yvonne Rowland is very generous in sharing her Christmas Wonderland.

She hosts a luncheon for about 30 girlfriends, a family gathering, and a Christmas Eve dinner with friends. Children are welcome.

"I show the children the buttons to push and show them how to pull a string or other ways to activate the sound-and-motion decorations. I have never had a child break an ornament," Yvonne said.

She is also generous to people who want to come and walk through her house to see her Christmas Wonderland. She will want to schedule those "walk throughs" after Christmas. Yvonne asks that those interested call her home phone, 874-9690. She uses her cell phone for business.

Yvonne Rowland and her beloved mother, LaVerne Lee, also known as the Hallmark Lady.
Yvonne places the Serenity Tree in her bedroom where there is room for a larger tree. The tree is gray silver with white lights. Ornaments are silver, blue and white. There are mirrors on three walls, floor to ceiling on one wall, and the lights are reflected over and over in the mirrors.
This tree is home to three ornaments that were handed down to Yvonne from her grandmother. On one side at the base of the tree is a treasured collection of snowmen given to Yvonne over the years by her mother. On the other side of the tree is a collection of bear-and-boy figurines.
This is Yvonne’s late mother’s tree. Yvonne places her mother’s ornaments on it every year. It displays Santas of all descriptions as well as other ornaments.
Yvonne’s mother, LaVerne Lee, was often called the Hallmark Lady because of her many years working at the local Hallmark store. This tree hosts Hallmark ornaments created through the years, many recognizable to people who had the same ornaments on their trees.
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