Deck the…

“Music and merriment go right together,” according to Ed Richards. This is evident from the very first step into the Richards’ holiday house, known for its extensive holiday happiness.

As you walk into the home of Ed and Pam, there is festive flurry even though the real snow clouds haven’t arrived yet. Some of this can be attributed to Ed’s career. He is a retired music teacher of 34 years and has been a church organist for 44 years. Throughout their house are holiday musical-themed gifts from Ed’s students.

Hanging from the front door is delicate snowman holding sheets of music.

Christmas is more than bright lights and holiday cheer for the Richardsons, who extensively decorate their home for the season. It’s a time for cherrished memories and a way to continually grow their merriment for life, loved ones, and family. (Photo by Christine Such/Sun Day)

Christmas is more than bright lights and holiday cheer for the Richardsons, who extensively decorate their home for the season. It’s a time for cherrished memories and a way to continually grow their merriment for life, loved ones, and family. (Photo by Christine Such/Sun Day)

Ed explains, “This has to be very carefully packed. The paper is quite fragile.”

“This gift,” said Ed, referring to a small village of buildings, “was given to me by students in one family. They all loved music and took piano lessons and played instruments.”

Another gift from a student, Ed points out, is “a conductor bear.”

The Richards enjoy the holidays so much that one tree is not enough.

“This tree is Kathy’s” Pam explained. It is decorated with fun ornaments that squeak and at the bottom a little train twirls around and around. Their daughter Kathy is a special needs child and that tree is important to her.

Ed pointed out an antique village that is very special, “It’s entirely made from cardboard. Very detailed.”

Another important decoration in the Richards’ home is an 81-year-old nativity scene.

“My parents received this Nativity scene at their wedding in 1936,” he said.

The nativity décor doesn’t end there. In a curio cabinet filled with beautiful stained-glass angels is also a stained-glass nativity scene beaconing guests to view it.

Pam added, “These pieces were purchased by my mother from an artist in the foothills of North Carolina. These pieces sparked my creative journey in stained glass. I am working on some pieces right now for Christmas gifts.”

The Richards have so much merriment that they continue to seek new ways to display their overflow.

Standing in front of their main tree, surrounded by over 35 village houses and accessories, Ed said, “We have four more huge bins filled with houses but we don’t have time or space to put them all out.”

When asked what is their favorite ornament, both exclaim simultaneously, “The snowflake!”

“We both lost our spouses in September of 2010. Ed was with Nancy for 40 years and I was with Jim for 47 years. We met at a support group held at a local funeral home. They gave us these snowflakes to remind us of the ones we loved who are not here,” said Pam.

Ed explains, “Christmas is a beautiful time, but if you just lost someone it is a painful time. This snowflake ornament is a lasting memory that reminds you of your loved one.”

Pam adds, “It hits you hard when you receive an ornament that reminds you of the loss, but you work through it and then suddenly you find yourself cherishing it. Time does wonders and that ornament is something of that person.”

Some ornaments, on the other hand, are great for laughter. For example, Ed pointed out two controversial ornaments on the same tree.

“We have a mixed marriage,” he jokes. “Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers ornaments. They are not bringing any great memories this year.”

But mostly, the Richards revel in the joy of the season. Their tree that holds their ornaments, their memories of their careers, their loved ones lost, their travels, and significant moments in their lives as their first Christmas together.

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