She’s ready for Christmas
By Susan Shinn
For The Salisbury Post
Are you ready for Christmas?
Anna Hinshaw is.
She has been since Nov. 11. That’s Veteran’s Day, you might remember.
“Honey, I’m ready,” Anna says, sitting in the sunroom of her home on Mount Hope Church Road.
Looking around, it’s hard to dispute her claims. For starters, there’s a huge snowman-themed Christmas tree, topped with a giant top hat ó no less ó stretching up to the ceiling. There are snowman plates and mugs and the Hallmark snowpeople on the coffee table, snowman pillows on the sofa and chairs and snowman statues on every other available surface.
Whew! And that’s just one room.
Anna’s love of decorating ó and decorating waaaaay early ó got started when son Alan (now 21) was 7 or 8. He got sick every year around Christmastime. Anna and husband Ed, a corporate pilot, realized their son was allergic to the live trees they had. Most of those trees now are all over their yard ó firs, pines and the like.
Anna realized if she had to have an artificial tree, she could start decorating earlier.
That’s exactly what she did. Then she started collecting even more ornaments.
“We go to Biltmore House every year at Christmas,” Anna says. “I got really inspired by all the trees in it.”
Besides the tree in the sunroom, there’s a tree in the living room, kitchen, downstairs den, the master bedroom and all of the children’s rooms. The Hinshaws also have two daughters, Rachel, 23, and Amy, 19.
All three kids still live at home, either working or going to school.
“They’re into it just as bad as me, so they can’t say anything,” Anna says. “I drag Ed kicking and screaming, but once he gets there, he’s as enthusiastic as the rest of us.”
“We love Christmas,” Amy confirms. “We grew up doing this.”
“Every Christmas is always good memories,” Rachel says. “It’s a little ó not embarrassing ó but she’s very enthusiastic about it.”
Every tree in every room is themed, Anna explains. Well, she admits, except for the trees in the kids’ rooms. She’s OK with letting them put whatever they want on theirs.
She has a new gingerbread tree in the kitchen, where her table, of course, is already set with Christmas china.
There seems to be plenty of space for more ornaments.
So when is the tree done?
“When it hurts your eyes to look at it,” Anna says, grinning. “When you can’t see the tree for the ornaments, I’m finished.
“And I won’t ever be finished.”
A longtime kindergarten teacher at Bostian Elementary School, Anna says that her uber-decorating brings her a lot of joy.
“Christmas is a happy time of year,” she reasons. “Why not stretch it out?”
She adds, “My friends think it’s cool. My sister had a good eye. She keeps me from getting too tacky.”
Anna shops for Christmas decorations year-round.
“It’s a hobby,” she says. “I spend all year looking.”
When the family goes to Ocean Isle every summer, Anna spends at least two evenings at Callahan’s shop at Calabash ó a place known for its ornaments.
“They make us go home,” Anna admits.
Locally, she counts Piedmont Floral Supply, Queen’s, Godley’s and The Stitchin’ Post among her favorite haunts.
“Obviously, I don’t need it,” she says.
But that doesn’t stop her from adding to her collection.
Anna and her sister, Nora Helms, always visit Pigeon Forge the weekend before Thanksgiving, staying ó you guessed it ó at the Christmas Inn.
“She feeds my habit,” Anna says of Nora, who’s also her next-door neighbor.
Anna keeps everything in row after row of storage tubs down in her basement.
What makes her pull out everything so early?
(Truth be told, she snuck downstairs at midnight on Halloween, and started deciding what would go where.)
“It takes a long time to decorate,” Anna says. “I want to be able to sit down and enjoy it.”
She can rationalize her hobby, too.
“I don’t buy jewelry,” she says. “I check my books out of the library.”
About the only thing she doesn’t include in her decorating is tinsel.
“Mama used to make us take the tinsel off and wrap it in a paper towel and tape it up,” she says. “That made me not want to do tinsel.”
The week after New Year’s, Anna starts undecorating.
“I’m in no hurry for it to be over,” she says.
When everything is put away, Anna sits down and makes a list ó of what she wants to look for next.
Her sister is in the market for a flocked tree, so Anna reckons she’ll probably get one, too.
That will probably elicit another round of eye-rolling from Ed, but that’s OK.
“He says, ‘Whatever makes you happy,’ ” Anna says. “He knows how much I love Christmas.”
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.