Shana Bartle loves Christmas. In fact, she begins planning her holiday decorations long before Thanksgiving; sometimes, even before Halloween.
“I started on the 14th of October this year,” said Bartle, who lives east of Powell on Lane 8 1/2.
She knew the job of decorating her home for Christmas would be bigger than usual this year. She and her husband, Ken, recently remodeled their house, and that called for an overhaul of her Christmas decoration scheme as well. Things that seemed just right suddenly didn’t seem to fit the rustic Western look they had chosen for their home.
So Bartle got out out all her Christmas elves, Santas and snowmen, teddy bears, Christmas trees, wreaths, ornaments, figurines, trinkets, wall decor, blankets, gift boxes and whatever else. When gathered together, the colorful decorations filled a large room.
Bartle began sorting out which decorations would stay, and which would have to go to new homes this year.
Once that was done, she began a new plan for bringing Christmas cheer into her home.
Despite feeling overwhelmed at first, “Once I start, I get in the mood; I think the Christmas spirit just takes over,” she said.
When she’s finished, the whole house had undergone a transformation, top to bottom.
“I would hate for any nook or cranny to go undecorated,” Bartle said, only half-joking.
Though she kept a few of her white Christmas teddy bears in their ornate red-and-green Christmas outfits, many of them were replaced by brown and black bears wearing flannel in plaid patterns instead.
Many of her table decorations were replaced with black bears outfitted for Christmas, including a nativity scene featuring black bears for the characters. Here and there, a Christmas moose greets the Bartles and their visitors.
Three large Christmas trees sport an assortment of decorations. Instead of the red, silver, maroon and gold orbs of years past, this year’s trees are adorned in rustic ornaments, such as pinecones, sprigs of red berries and ornaments made of red and tan burlap material with accents of white. The family room downstairs has a cowboy-themed holiday scheme, which includes ornaments and decorations on the Christmas tree there.
Not surprisingly, Santa Claus plays a leading part throughout the holiday decor. From the stovetop to counters, tables, dressers, bathroom furnishings and shelves throughout the house, Santas peer out from a variety of heights, poses and mediums. Some are whimsical; others rustic or cartoonish. Some are cherubic; others, mischievous. Some appear more traditional; others, more modern. Some are large; others are small.
As in past years, snowmen also play a big role in the decoration scheme, but most appear more rustic than the whimsical ones who formerly stood at their posts.
Bartle said her husband teases her about being “out of control” when she brings out the piles of decorations and begins her annual decorating routine.
But Ken takes note as she finishes each room, and as he walks through their house, transformed with its holiday adornments, he expresses appreciation.
“He’s 100 percent pleased,” Bartle said. “When my husband walks in and says, ‘I just love it,’ I’m just happy. That just gives you a really good, satisfying feeling.”
Besides appreciating her efforts, Ken also pitches in to put up the trees, haul boxes, decorate the outside of their house, and to put up decorations in their attached greenhouse.
“I’m thankful for that, because it just wouldn’t be complete without the outside decorations, too,” she said.
When Ken was growing up, Christmas decorating consisted primarily of putting up a Christmas tree. But Shana Bartle grew up in a home where Christmas changed everything.
“My grandmother loved Christmas, and I think she passed that love down through the generations,” she said.
“We would have a big family get-together, a big Christmas dinner. We would exchange names, so everybody had packages that night. Grandma would wait until that night to open her presents in front of everybody, then we would have dessert,” Bartle recalled. “I just remember it was just a warm, family-blessed feeling to everything.”
Her grandmother didn’t do a lot of decorating, but her mother, Karen Spragg, added decorations to her family’s list of Christmas traditions.
“She was on the Tour of Homes in Lovell at least a couple of times,” Shana Bartle said.
A couple of years after she and Ken got married, Shana Bartle picked up that tradition and ran with it, too.
“I just started adding [decorations] over the years,” she said.
The Bartles’ home has been on the Christmas Tour of Homes a couple of times, once for Powell and once for Lovell.
Bartle hosts a candy-making day for her extended family, when cousins and aunts gather to make holiday candy, while Christmas music plays in the background. “The music is part of the memories,” she said. “We still try to make it special.”
At the end, they enjoy some homemade soup and share some of the candy they’ve made during the day.
The Bartles also enjoy Christmas Eve at their house, especially whenever their son, JC, and daughter, Shallan, can make it home to be with them.
“If you can’t enjoy this time of year, what time of year are you going to enjoy?” Shana Bartle wonders. “I like everything about Christmas.”
She starts decorating early every year because she wants to enjoy her festive home for longer than just 25 days.
“We sit down and we just feel warm and cozy here; it’s not just for show,” Bartle said. “I’d like to leave it up all year ’round. My house looks really bare [at other times of the year] compared to Christmastime.”