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Showing plenty of Christmas spirit

GRATIOT – A recent study shows that people who put up their Christmas decorations early are happier than those who wait. For the Poss family of rural Gratiot, they have to decorate early in order to get all their decorations out.
Jim and Brenda Poss have what some might call “a super fan” collection of Christmas décor in their home. Literally every nook and cranny is filled with the Christmas spirit and not a place goes unnoticed.
“We still have stuff that we haven’t put up,” Jim joked.
They started collecting their decorations in 1983, a little bit before they got married. And like most collections they started small in just one room and it has grown every year since.
“Again this year, we said we were not going to buy any more stuff and then we went to an auction and found the snowman salt and pepper shakers and cookie jar. At this point we are not going to say it anymore because if there is something at an auction, we will get it,” Jim chuckled.
Both have become pros at putting up the decorations and taking them down. But what people don’t realize is everything else has to be taken down.
“We have a lot of antiques. We both enjoy going to auctions and finding things you can’t find in stores, like the stuff we grew up with. So once we take that all down, then we clean everything. Instead of spring cleaning its Christmas cleaning,” Jim stated.
It takes them a couple of weeks to put everything up. It used to take Jim and his daughters, Shelby and Samantha, three 8-hour days to put everything up, over Thanksgiving break.
“The girls have never had a Christmas that wasn’t over the top. If we didn’t do this, it wouldn’t seem like Christmas to them,” Jim explained. Their daughters have resorted to grabbing items from their parent’s home to decorate their own places to keep the decorating tradition going.
This is the first year that things got changed around in the house. Jim and Brenda made a new shelving unit for some of their antiques, which freed up more room for their collection of locally handmade Santas, made in Shullsburg.
The Christmas decorations, which take up more than ten totes and total in the hundreds, range from animatronic and golfing Santas to collections of Garfield and Coca-Cola Santas.
Brenda states that Jim is the collector in the house. His biggest collection is that of his Peanuts characters that adorn his entire bathroom from top to bottom.
“I grew up with that stuff,” Jim remembered nostalgically.
 One of his favorite Christmas toys was from a Christmas in 1962 where he received a Mr. Ed pull puppet toy. He showed off the toy, not the original, but in its original box and it still worked. Jim also has a signed Red Rider BB gun from the actor that played Ralphie in A Christmas Story and a photograph from the actress that played ZuZu in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Brenda enjoys cross-stitch and has more time to sit back and relax and be more creative since retiring from Lafayette County Human Services last year.
“I would like more wall space to put up more things. I love making the cross-stitch Christmas scenes but don’t have any room to keep them for myself so I give them away to friends,” Brenda said.
But a true favorite of Jim’s is the Nativity Scene, which has a prominent spot on top of the refrigerator for all to see.
“It is what Christmas is truly all about,” Jim explained.
Everything began to take shape this year a couple days for Thanksgiving and it will most likely come down sometime mid-January. Brenda’s collection of snowmen are the last things to come down.
“When I sit down and look around, I realize we do have a lot of stuff. Even I say that,” Jim joked.
His tip for decorating a house with so much stuff is to take it a little big at a time and don’t get overwhelmed.
“And you need to be in a creative mood do it too,” Brenda added.
But they have loved it every time they had everything up and with just one walk around, you still aren’t able to catch everything and all the little things.
“It is the little things that add to it. Why we do it so much inside is because we get to see it. When people are over, they get to see it. We love it,” Jim said.