AP NEWS

Village collection highlight of holiday decor

December 17, 2017 GMT

SIOUX FALLS — My sister, Kristi Hupp, calls me a bad influence.

Recently, while admiring the Christmas village pieces for sale at a home improvement store, I pointed out a bumper car scene and asked if she had the piece in her collection.

“I don’t have that one,” she said. “But it’s $99. I’ll only buy new pieces when they’re on sale.”

Twenty minutes later, she emerged from the checkout lane with a large box bearing a picture of a bumper car scene. A guilty grin stretched across her face as she blamed me for the purchase.

“You’re a bad influence,” she said, laughing.

I will admit I have done my part to enable her obsession with Christmas decorations. After all, a highlight of my holiday season is making a trip to Sioux Falls to see the wonderland she creates inside her home each year.

Kristi often begins the monumental task of decorating for Christmas and the winter season before Thanksgiving. Because the task is so great, she leaves some of them up through January.

Each room in her house, including the two bathrooms, is decorated with at least one tree — that’s 18 trees total. (She also takes two trees to work for decorating.)

Each tree color is coordinated and most have a theme. For example, one bears ornaments relating to “A Christmas Story;” another has ornaments relating to our favorite childhood Christmas specials like “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town;” and another bears Husker ornaments. (No, the tips of the Husker tree aren’t “frosted,” but that’s a detail she may need to remedy next year). She even has a tree dedicated to her dogs.

She also has multiple nativity scenes, ornate garland and twinkling lights spread throughout her home.

But perhaps the most impressive part of my sister’s home during the holidays is the Christmas megalopolis she has displayed in the lower level of her house.

Ceramic houses, shops, schools, churches — including five replicas of buildings located in Sioux Falls — circle her family room and stretch into the spare bedroom, where pieces also temporarily take the place of books on the bookshelf and knicknacks on the top of the computer desk.

Scenes of ice skaters, an amusement park, carolers and a miniature Christmas tree lot accent the expansive cityscape. When the switches are turned on, the room fills with the warm glow of hundreds of tiny lights, as well as the sound of water trickling from the mill and the monotonous tap of the seesaw on the miniature playground.

Her collection began with farm-style pieces she had purchased as gifts for our now-deceased grandparents. Slowly, it has grown to include more than 124 large, lighted pieces. She has lost count of the number of accessories — miniature trees, animals, people and props — that bring the scenes to life.

Other pieces in the collection she acquired on her own. Several were given to her as gifts by people who know she enjoys decorating for the holiday season.

Kristi’s fully decorated house has been part of the Sioux Falls Christmas tour of homes in the past, but she doesn’t go all-out for the holidays to draw attention from others. In fact, the outside of her home is so modestly decorated for the holiday you’d likely be surprised at the wonderland inside.

Her desire to decorate for the holiday comes from a love of the reason behind the season. You can see that love in the way her eyes light up at the mere mention of Christmas.

Who wouldn’t want to encourage that?