It’s Christmas Year Round at this Draper Home
There’s always room for Santa Claus at Caralee Skinner’s home. He’ll just have to squeeze in with 500 others.
Space is at a premium in Skinner’s Santa room, filled floor to ceiling with Santas of all shapes and sizes. With the eye of a museum curator, Skinner displays her Santas with great care so that each gets a bit of the spotlight.
“I love every one of my Santas,” says Skinner. “And I have a different reason why I love each one. I want to see them. I don’t want them boxed away.”
There’s miniature Santas, santas in snowglobes, Santa with Mrs. Claus, antique Santas, Santa on a horse, on a motorcycle, on a black bear and with reindeer, of course. There’s wooden Santas, stuffed Santas, metal Santas, a Santa carrying a pink flamingo, Santa drinking Coca-Cola, and a Willie Nelson Santa. Santas adorn quilts, rugs, plates, signs, curtains, and door hangers. There’s even one blue Santa, from BYU, of course.
All are one of a kind. Some are from her world travels; others from a trip to the thrift store. Many come from the day-after Christmas sales. She dusts them all once a year, a tricky job since one slip-up and they tumble like red and white dominoes.
Her St. Nicholas collection started rather innocently, when in the early years of her marriage, she painted a porcelain Santa Claus and fell in love with him. So, she painted another one. Her husband Barry took notice and decided to surprise her with a Santa figurine for Christmas.
“Then it mushroomed,” she says.
From then on, every Christmas friends and family knew what to put under her tree. She especially loves the handmade gifts: Santa pillows, Santa cross-stitch, Santa dolls, and always gets a chuckle from sayings on plaques—one of her favorite being: “Be naughty, save Santa a trip.” Her December birthday helps double up on the Santa gifts.
“I am the easiest person to get a gift for,” she says.
Some of her favorite Santas are those in a nativity scene—praying or offering gifts to baby Jesus. That scene, she says, emphasizes the meaning of Christmas.
“I always made sure that my kids, and now my grandchildren, know that the purpose of Christmas is not just presents and Santa Claus—although I do love him—but the real meaning is giving,” she says. And much of that giving comes from being kind to others.
“During this time of year people are kinder, more patient, more loving to one another,” she says. “People talk to strangers. I love that feeling of Christmas. I wish it could be like that all year round.”
Her Santa fascination, she suspects, might stem from wanting Christmas to be different from her childhood ones, where her only gift was always practical—a dress or pair of shoes. So, she gravitated to pure extravagance, finding joy by creating a place that enchants, especially children who spend hours looking at her collection. And, her Santas always put a twinkle in her eye, too.
Whenever she’s had a tough day, Skinner heads to her winter wonderland, winds up the Christmas music box, lights a pine-scented candle and slides onto the green day bed. Then she looks around at her creation.
“I am really blessed,” she says. “I have all these fun, wonderful Santas around me. How could someone leave this room not feeling their best?”