With a variety of signs that include Jesus is the Reason for the Season and Put Christ Back in Christmas, theres no doubt Connie Matthys remembers why she is celebrating Christmas. But that doesnt mean she doesnt add displays of Santas, bears and snowmen to her many Nativity scenes when she goes all out with her Christmas decorations every year.
My mom always decorated, and I started when I got married, she said about the decor that led to her inclusion in the Catholic Daughters of the Americas eighth annual Doorways to a Durango Christmas tour, which will take place Dec. 11. But there was nothing to this extent until 15 or 20 years ago, when I went crazy.
This is the second time her home will be included on the tour and the last year shes going to do full-scale decorating, she said. It took her two weeks to get it in place.
We begged Connie to do it because she has so much stuff and does such a nice job, said Pat Petersen, who is helping organize the tour and opened her own home for the event in a previous year. We were surprised after starting this that the hard thing is getting people to decorate their houses.
Among other items, Matthys has a large display of Santas, many painted by her mother, and one made from her grandmothers quilt. Others are collectibles from Blue Mountain, Possible Dreams and Simpich. Several Christmas trees, a table set for the holiday and a tiny village complete with ice skaters twirling fill every available space.
The group has been fortunate to have snow during only two tours, which cuts down its usual attendance of 200 to 250 people.
One year, there was a family of four, with two teenage boys, from Farmington who kept going back and forth from room to room, and it made me a little nervous, Matthys said. It turned out they also decorated like this, and even the boys were excited to get new ideas from my displays.
Other favorite memories include mothers and daughters touring in their Christmas dresses and the time Margaret Fretwell surprised the people touring with a mannequin dressed like Santa taking a bubble bath in her bathtub.
We want to make sure people realize this is a great Sunday afternoon activity for the whole family, Petersen said.
Volunteers from the Daughters of Court 1248, who are from both St. Columba and Sacred Heart Catholic churches, serve as guides during the tour and put their baking skills to work so there are treats at each house.
Other highlights on the tour will include:
Cheryl and Jim Dureskys Italian Fontanini Nativity village with many biblical characters and scenes.
A variety of snow globes, nutcrackers and a 1940s Christmas Village at the home of Lisa and Pat Barrett.
Laurie and Ben McGills collection of Christmas items including ceramic Santas and nutcrackers gathered over a period of 35 years.
Tracy and Todd Tanners mountain chalet at Rockwood with themed wreaths and the familys Mountain Santa collection.
The women dont go through all this effort just to spread good cheer for the holidays. Past tours have helped support local causes such as the Southwest Safehouse, Manna Soup Kitchen and Pregnancy Center to the tune of more than $16,000.