DANVERS - Marci Heinemann doesn't decorate to the nines. It's more like 9 x 9 x 9.
People slow down when they walk past her home just to see what's changed since yesterday.
Christmas is no exception — after dark, her home is one larger-than-life twinkling Christmas card at 112 W. Park St., Danvers. "I like people to be happy. They love coming by," she said.
"Tons of different kinds of lights" including snowflake and flickering lights dress up the wraparound porch.
One of her many domestic passions is decorating, but her small ranch home in the Chicago suburb of Glenwood didn't give her the space. Her longtime dream was a big Victorian house in a small town. That happened two years ago when she bought a house big enough to accommodate five grandchildren who love to visit Grandma.
Cabbage soup simmers on the stove as she cradles a tired young granddaughter and talks about the way she approaches decorating. She avidly shops sales for everything she buys no matter what the season, including getting up the day after Christmas at 5 a.m. to get bargains for next year.
Marci puts up Christmas trees throughout her home, and all have themes. She remembers her mother, the late Geraldine Root, having a silver tree with pink ornaments in the late 1950s.
Marci lets her architecturally distinct home's woodwork and furnishings etc. help her decide what would artfully meld in a particular space.
She's never counted how many ornaments she has, but when asked, said it could number in four figures.
"Pretty much the kitchen is the gingerbread and gumdrop-type room," she said. Besides the kitchen and laundry room, all the other downstairs room have richly grained golden oak woodwork.
The elaborate foyer, with stained and leaded glass and parquet inlays, is decked out in burgundy and silver. A tree is showcased in the front window with the curtains pulled back so passers-by can view it. A garland on the banister is bedecked with bows, beads, lights and glass ornaments.
"The dining room is the gold room—all gold ornaments." She said gold is a color which works well with the golden oak woodwork. Her collection of Santa Clauses find their seasonal home in the library.
In her dining room, she has what she calls an autumn tree with leaves and lots of golds, so for Christmas she simply replaces autumn with gold ornaments instead. She decorates with white lights throughout the house, except for a few colored ones in the living room, also called the middle parlor. She believes colored lights simply must be somewhere in a house for the holidays. For the front parlor, with its dark blue wallpaper, it's a white tree with blue, white and silver ornaments which help lighten up a room which gets little sunlight being shaded by a wraparound porch.
While most of her ornaments are bought, years ago she spray painted clear ornaments burgundy and gold, and used leftover lace from her daughters' wedding dress.
But this lavishly decorated home is not some showcase — it is a place where a lot of people do a lot of living. Her father, Raymond Root, and her daughter, Lise Shoemaker live there.
But that is just the start — her grandchildren, Justin and Heidi Shoemaker, 13 and 11, both of Morris, and Jordan and Jackie Judge, 8 and 5, and Casey Wismiller, 2, Bloomington, are constant visitors.
"My grandkids love coming over here," she said. They do so many things with grandma year-round. Now it's time for a weekend of Christmas cookies and other holiday festivities.
People ask how she keeps things so neat and can have so many decorations out. She said even the younger ones know "These are not your toys. They have their own toys. They grow up respecting other people's property." If she finds something belonging to her grandchildren out of place, she keeps it awhile before returning it.
She also keeps upgrading her organization scheme, including holiday decorations. "I've got at least 50 totes — maybe 40 for Christmas," she said.
Last year, she began organizing everything differently. She used to group all the Santa Clauses together, for instance. Now Marci organizes the contents in large plastic boxes according to what room they belong in.
Permanent marker is used to label two sides and the top with the contents. She prefers clear plastic boxes to see the contents, and colored lids which reflect the season she is storing inside. She gets all the same size totes so they are easy to stack. And she only buys the largest size she can lift by herself.
She revels in each season of the year and the changes in the weather. She loves winter just as much as the other three seasons, and cannot imagine anyone living in a place with the same temperature year round.
How, she ponders, could one possibly celebrate Christmas if it wasn't' cold?
"Please don't give me Hawaii."