Christmas comes but once a year, except at Ed Clark’s home in San Antonio, Texas. For nearly twenty-five years, Ed Clark’s Year-Round Christmas House has been open to the kind of people who start buying Christmas crap in May and listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” long before Thanksgiving. This is a holiday hoarder’s paradise with everything covered in tinsel and bows, Santa figurines, and singing doormats. And don’t forget the backyard. So if you want “A Holly Jolly Christmas” in July, this is your place.
Inside a Bavarian style building right above Wagner’s Nussknacker Haus shop is the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum in Washington. It’s the perfect mix of commerce and culture, just like Christmas itself! With a collection of over 6,000 nutcrackers, the museum was founded twenty years ago by Arlene Wagner, known as “The Nutcracker Lady,” a former ballet teacher who used to teach productions of…wait for it…you’ll never guess…The Nutcracker! Life really does come full circle, huh? Now give me a nut to crack!
What better way to celebrate the true artificiality of the holiday season than with the annual “pop up” Aluminum Tree and Aesthetically Challenged Seasonal Ornament Museum (or ATOM as it is otherwise known) in North Carolina. Started in 1997 to display vintage 1950s Christmas trees, ATOM has dozens of trees and vintage ornaments decorated in whimsical themes. Probably my personal favorite was the Flamingo Tree but there have been Elvis Trees and Marilyn Monroe Trees in previous years. And the best part? Revolving tree stands and color wheels help to complete the show.
With the exception of a couple of years in my childhood, I’ve never really had a Christmas tree. For a number of reasons it’s not really a thing in my family. Yet people still give me ornaments, which are immediately re-gifted to someone more appreciative. Well, whatever I do in life, I should probably skip The Party Shop, a 12,000-square foot Hallmark Gold Crown Store, about triple the size of an average Hallmark shop. Most of the floor space is dedicated to the Jess Prudencio/David Hamrick Hallmark Ornament Museum. Over 30 glass-fronted cabinets, arranged chronologically, house the only public display of every Hallmark Keepsake Ornament. That’s 4,000 ornaments!!!
If you’re like my uncle, then you’re probably watching the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story on either TNT or TBS quoting lines before they’re even said while sitting next to a leg lamp. Did you know there is A Christmas Story House Museum where the movie was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio? Surprisingly, they aren’t open on Christmas, which is too bad because my uncle would be first in line, if he could ever get off the freakin’ couch, that is. Directly across the street from the house is the museum, which features original props, memorabilia and costumes from the film, including Randy’s snow suit, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. And here’s a marketing scheme for you – the museum has an “official” Chinese restaurant. Bring your museum ticket stub and get 10% off your bill. Unfortunately I can’t promise that the waiters will sing “Deck the Halls” for you. Fa ra ra ra ra!