Even before Bill and Stephanie Bratton offer you a selection of cool holographic specs that provide customized views of their holiday haven, you’ll know they are not shy about expressing the Christmas spirit.
The arrival of the holiday season at the Bratton home, with its trimmings, becomes evident as you travel toward their Eagle Drive home in North Charleston.
To visit is to share an experience designed to feed the kid in Bill and Stephanie Bratton. It’s also designed to help them make Christmas traditions with son Grady, 12.
Those who approach the combined array of new and vintage accessories that highlight the exterior and interior of their modest home will see a larger-than-usual array of objects that say Christmas.
Bill and Stephanie, an administrative specialist for Southeastern Freight Lines, started small about 13 years ago, before Grady was born, they say. Bill, a cabinetmaker, came across a design for stars in a magazine called “Wood” and the two teamed up to make them.
They made nine pairs of stars lit with candles that cast a glow, he says. They gave six pairs to friends and family as Christmas gifts and kept three pairs for themselves. This year their stars light the way up their porch steps.
“On Christmas night, all we burn is the stars,” Stephanie Bratton says. “It’s the simple joy of celebrating Christ’s birth. The world is so crazy people forget what the season is all about. “
The spirit starts to take hold early at the Bratton home.
It would appear that their Christmas decorating begins the day after Thanksgiving when Bill stands on the attic steps, and later in the back shed, handing off 15 33-gallon totes to Grady. The tubs hold the family decorations, and once Grady has them in hand, Stephanie tells him where to put them to facilitate efficiency.
But the whole thing actually begins the day after Halloween when they set aside six pumpkins and Stephanie paints them white. She also adds facial features with a black marker and cardboard or found hats. Bratton chooses some twigs to make their arms and they become Mr. and Mrs. Snowman and are placed on the lawn beside cone-shaped plastic white Christmas trees. Across the way is a matching reindeer that periodically bobs its head.
Bill, Stephanie and Grady’s faces light up at the sight of it.
“When I was growing up, my dad was a fireman,” Bill says. “He worked different shifts and did not have a lot of time to spend days decorating. He put up a few things outside. But he wouldn’t do much more than that.”
They include Bratton’s parents’ big and colorful old-fashioned bulbs in their display. The bulbs now line the top of their fence. They coordinate with an equally colorful collection of 21 tiny plastic Christmas trees running across the bottom of the fence and up the driveway. The tiny trees are joined by 36 snowflakes that light the flower beds and echo other snowflakes placed throughout the front yard.
Santa’s sleigh is parked on top of the garage. And a huge star is on the roof nearby. Bratton’s parents’ last Christmas tree has been given a fresh spray of white paint this year and placed on the porch.
One of numerous wreaths around the home gives the appearance of faceted stone and is lit with clear bulbs that give it a slight twinkling effect. As the gate to the front yard is opened, a wreath of bells dressed in silver tinsel and garland rings.
Inside, a fabric window shade with an image of an angel holding a candle lit with a battery-operated bulb is on the back door. A similar shade bearing Santa’s likeness and a bright star, also lit by a battery-operated bulb, hangs at a bathroom window.
Son Grady made most of the ornaments on the living room Christmas tree, Stephanie Bratton says. The tree sits next to a table holding a Tiffany-style lamp of bells, ribbon and garland found online at the Home Shopping Network.
Also in the living room, decorations are all along the fireplace and line the tops of the wooden window valances. On the shelf higher up on the wall is a reindeer flight camp with post office, toy shop, train station and Santa’s home.
Many more decorations are spread throughout the Bratton living room, kitchen and bathroom, such as the Christmas bears, painted ponies and a big red soap dispenser that looks like an ornament.
“Christmas is me,” Stephanie Bratton says. “It’s just that simple.”
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.
Stephanie and Bill Bratton make their front yard in North Charleston a place of joy at Christmastime.×
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