Opal Waters starts to bring out her Christmas decorations at the end of October. Over the next month, she meticulously puts each ornament, of which there are thousands, in its place.
“I hope to get the lights turned on by Thanksgiving,” she said. “But I’m getting old. Next year, I’ll have to start earlier.”
Waters, 84, said she started to collect Christmas decorations years ago. Now, she says it’s hard to have a real estimate for how many nutcrackers, nativity scenes, Santas – the list goes on – she has placed around the house.
Waters did say she has 12 full-sized Christmas trees set up. The largest tree has 300 ornaments, and it takes her 12 to 13 hours to decorate.
She has nearly 100 standing Santas, ranging in size from 8 inches to 6 feet 3 inches. Her oldest ornament is about 85 years old.
Decorating is a ritual Waters looks forward to every year.
“Christmas is just my very favorite time of the year,” she said. “When I get in here, I don’t feel the chaos of the world.”
Waters said each ornament is attached to a memory. Some were gifted to her, and some remind her of friends and family.
“They’re pleasant, peaceful memories,” she said.
Waters has four sons, 16 grandchildren, 34 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. Most don’t live in Durango, she said, but the kids love it when they get a chance to visit.
Waters said she’ll leave the decorations up until the end of January. Then, one room at a time, she’ll wrap each decoration in tissue paper and place it in a box.
“I store them in closets, under the bed, any little cubbyhole,” she said. “Anywhere I can find.”