In July, when the temperatures outdoors are high and the winter jackets are still pushed far into the closet, Aiken resident Karen Lucas begins her Christmas decorating.
It takes longer to do because Lucas’ collection is vast. Each room of her home is immaculately decorated with her collection of Santa Clauses, Nutcrackers, and other Christmas symbols.
Lucas loves Christmas and enjoys decorating for the holiday because she likes to see others enjoy it.
“We’ll have neighbors or people come by and say, ‘Thank you so much for putting up your lights,’” Lucas said.
“I say, ‘If you like it so much, why don’t you come by and help?’”
She starts decorating indoors in July, taking things in the house outside and bringing in the Christmas decor when she gets off work.
The outside, too, is decorated, and that begins in September.
Lucas has been decorating and growing her collection for about 30 years.
The family has had churches bring busloads of folks by to see, and once they see the outside, they want to come in and see the inside, too.
There are Nativity manger scenes in every room, and a manger scene is the first thing a passer sees on the corner of the yard, and the first thing a visitor sees in the foyer.
“When you come in here at nighttime, if you’re coming off the street, the first thing you see here is the manger scene that’s on the corner down there; and it’s important that we make that the first item that you hopefully see and any other lights and things, that’s all superficial, and that’s fine and well and good, but the idea is to understand when you first come in here, exactly what the celebration is all about,” said Tom Lucas, Karen’s husband.
“That, of course, is celebrating the birth of Jesus; so that’s why we put it on the corner in hopes that people say, ‘Oh look, a manger scene,’ you know?”
Karen said she loves attending Christmas programs and cantatas held by area churches each year.
Many area churches aren’t holding regular programs this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but she tries to still keep the Christmas spirit up through her decorations.
“I just like having the family over here sharing all this,” Karen said, adding her children help with the outdoor lights, and her grandchildren love the manger scenes the best.
Much of the decor has come from yard sales and consignment shops, and each January, she and a friend travel to Hilton Head to shop, especially for Christmas decorations.
People will gift Christmas decor to Karen, as well. One friend found her a Santa Claus wearing a Lowe’s apron, representative of Karen’s job at Lowe’s.
While Karen’s collection has grown, she’s OK with giving things away, too.
“People will come here and they’ll say, ‘Oh, I like this or I like that,’ and I say, ‘OK, you can have it.’ I just give it to them because it’s bringing them joy,” she said.