Deborah Ward, former newswoman and director of marketing at Omaha’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, saw her first seven-foot-tall Santa at a Sam’s Club about eight years ago. Though husband Joe Jordan, managing editor of NebraskaWatchdog.org, may have simply decided to go with the flow at the beginning, their larger-than-life collection of Christmas memorabilia is now the center of a family tradition in their Papillion home. Three Santas and a Mrs. Claus later, Deborah is on the lookout year round for the next piece of holiday magic that will make her sit up and take notice. “I won’t take home just anything,” she says with a laugh. “I’m a Santa snob.”
Deborah and Joe don’t quite know what they’ll add to their collection next. “I’ll know it when I see it,” Deborah says. “It’s got to have a certain sparkle, you know. It’s got to be larger than life.” Space isn’t a concern just yet. “We have room,” she says, though Joe might shake his head. It helps to have a spacious basement too. That’s where all the Santas live for the other 11 months out of the year.
Addie is every bit as into the festivity as Mom and Dad. She has her own tree to decorate in her room. “But Mom’s nuts,” she says with certainty.
Deborah and Joe have three larger-than-life Santa statues dotted around their home from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas. Deborah's favorite Santa is this one with the curly beard and pocket watch.
It’s not all about the Santas. Traditional stockings hung by the fire with care are among the seasonal knick knacks that don’t chuckle ho ho ho.
Entertaining is a huge part of the holidays, Deborah says. The family hosts Christmas Eve at their Papillion home, so of course the kitchen, home to sweets and country-sliced ham, has to match the theme as well as the rest of the house.
Not one to limit herself, Deborah doesn’t only acquire life-sized Santas. She’ll happily find a home for those smaller Kris Kringles as well.
Animatronics add a special touch of magic to the house. Would it truly be Christmas without Santa dancing to Jingle Bell Rock?