Most people finish decorating for Christmas within a day, if not within a few hours. But with more than two thousand ornaments to hang this year, Sylvia Pope started long before Halloween.
The 73-year-old Welsh grandmother normally begins in September, taking out her ornament collection from the attic and carefully pinning each one to the ceiling of her home in Swansea, South Wales.
She’s completed the ritual since 1999, when she got the idea after attending a friend's party.
“Their room was full of baubles on the ceiling and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that looks fabulous!’ So I decided to start the same and I’ve been doing it from then on,” she told TODAY.com. “I have at the moment 2,530 of them on the ceiling.”
Pope begins with “the fancy ones,” although she doesn’t have a special order or spot for any of them. Her collection grows each year, thanks to gifts her grandchildren and friends bring back from their vacations.
“People buy them for me from abroad. Wherever they go on holidays, if they see something and think, ‘Oh, Sylvia would like that,’ they fetch it back to me,” she said. “So I have them from quite a few places in the world.”
This year’s additions include ornaments from Vienna, Dubai and Brussels. Pope also purchased a few herself while visiting Prague two weeks ago.
She insists she doesn’t have any favorites, but she admitted that because a growing number come from her loved ones — she has 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren — she would never reveal her preferences anyway.
“They’re all lovely and they’re all very nice, so I’ve not really got a favorite. If I said that, it would disappoint one of the children, wouldn’t it?" she said.
Pope said her younger great-grandchildren especially love to come over and admire her ceiling.
“They love looking at them, and we play games like I-Spy. It’s like, 'Can you find me the bauble?' I have a few from New York — a yellow taxi and Yankee Stadium — so I’ll ask them to find something,” she said.
She also has numerous Disney characters she asks them to spot, including Mary Poppins, Captain Hook and all seven of Snow White’s dwarfs.
“They’re all up there. There are nine princesses up there, too, so there’s quite a lot for all to look there, including baubles with the children’s names on them," she said.
In addition to family, she often has friends and former colleagues stopping by this time of year to see her growing collection.
“My friends and colleagues from work, it’s an excuse to get everybody here and have a cocktail party,” she said with a laugh. “They come up and spend the evening looking at them and we all have a nice evening.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Pope doesn’t have a traditional Christmas tree but a “bauble tree” of ornaments collected together in the shape of a tree.
Pope has spent tens of thousands of dollars on her collection over the years, but said each ornament has been worth it.
“I think it’s a fabulous thing for children, but I enjoy it as well. I must stress that,” she said.
She also loves the fact that every September, her grandchildren know exactly what to expect from her.
“They know it’s coming up just before Halloween, so they say to me, ‘When are you putting up the baubles, Gran? Gran, when are we having the baubles up?’ Because they’re always up before Halloween” she said.
“I know Halloween is celebrated, and we celebrate that in other houses,” she said. “In this house, we celebrate Christmas.”
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