When organizers of Tillsonburg's Holiday Tour of Homes asked Joanne Lee, 'do you decorate for Christmas,' her husband Brian laughed.
"We pretty much go all out at Christmas," Joanne smiled. "I'm usually all decorated by mid-November. This what it normally looks like, except for the table - I don't drape satin on my table - and the odd corner things they filled in."
It was a bit nerve-wracking in the days leading up to Saturday, their first time being on the list of Holiday Tour homes, hosted by the Tillsonburg Kinettes and the Station Arts Centre.
"I was terrified," she admitted. "I haven't slept. I had dreams people would come in and say, 'what is she doing?'
"I said I wouldn't do it at first, but they talked me into it. Because I work at Tillsonburg Garden Gate, I could fill holes with Matt (Fenn's) stuff. The poinsettias and some little nick-knack stuff in corners are from Garden Gate. XQZT Floral Design did all the table arrangements for me, which was very, very helpful. She does beautiful work."
No. 10 on the list of 10 Tillsonburg and area homes, they were the final home for those following the tour in order. By mid-afternoon Saturday, they had about 40-50 visitors, and more were still arriving. The response was all positive, she said.
"I can sleep like a baby tonight," she laughed. "It's been fun."
No. 7 on the tour, the Lisgar Avenue home owned by Dan and Wendy Dube is a historical landmark in Tillsonburg. Built in the 1920s on the corner of Lisgar Avenue and Concession Street, the house was originally owned by Elliott and Minnie Fairbairn.
"A lot of people have said, 'Elliott Fairbairn was my principal,'" noted Dan Dube, a teacher at Rolph Street Public School where E. Fairbairn was principal for many years.
The home has been extensively renovated since they bought it in 2006, keeping much of the architectural design intact.
"It needed a lot of work that we didn't know we were getting into," said Wendy. "We're trying to restore it to its original shape. A lot of things were in good shape, like the trim, the stairs...
"We had to re-do the stairs," noted Naomi Dube, their daughter, who was greeting guests at the door Saturday.
"We took out all the carpet," Wendy nodded. "We did a lot of things that you can't see – electrical, plumbing..."
The Dube home had its traditional holiday decorations on display.
"This is normal," Wendy smiled. "Well, the dishes are my mom's. And we borrowed my mom's tree because we always get a real tree.
"I started collecting Christmas stuff when I was about 10. I would buy one thing each year, so it took many years. I like to decorate – when I was in university I was deciding between being an account or being an interior decorator..."
"It's been fun," said Dan. "Everyone's been really friendly and they love it."
"I think it's because we're very social people," said Wendy.
In addition to XQZT Floral Design and Tillsonburg Garden Gate, the Holiday Tour of Homes was supported by Party Girls Company and The Flower Fountain, with sponsorship from Bamford Homes and Southern Ontario Printing.
2013 Holiday Tour Guide
1 – Annandale National Historic Site
Staff and volunteers at Annandale N.H.S. decorated the three-story Victorian house in traditional holiday fashion, giving it a unique seasonal look from Nov. 22-Jan. 12. For the holidays, 'A Catalogue Christmas' is on display in the museum gallery.
2 – Bamford Homes, Morning Glory Drive
A model home built in 2013 by Bamford Homes. Decor by XQZT Floral Design.
3 – Larry and Mary Bartram, Corinth
"...I have collected over 255 Santas from all over the world, including Russia. These Santas are on display throughout the house. My bathroom/laundry room is referred to as the 'Snowman Room' during the Christmas season as my collection of snowmen that I started over 41 years ago all find a home there. I have decorated the lower level, downstairs, mostly for my grandchildren with non-breakable items. My most prized decoration is a sleigh that belonged to Larry's great grandfather George. This sleigh came from England when they immigrated in 1843. Melissa from Party Girls Company contributed with some accents..."
4 – Jake and Mary Zacharias, Culloden Road
A beautiful spacious country home.
5 – Erica Patenaude, Howe Drive
"A warm and cozy, traditional style home featuring several whimsical beautiful interiors that bring Christmas to life... (it) may inspire you to create a bit of Christmas magic in your own home."
6 – Harvest Retirement Community
"Decked out in our season's splendor. Christmas decor ideas to delight and inspire the home decorator in all of us."
7 – Dan and Wendy Dube, Lisgar Avenue
"Believed to be built in the mid-1920s, the home was originally owned by Elliott and Minnie Fairbairn until 1987. Many repairs and renovations have been done to the home over the past six years, keeping in mind the time period when it was built. At Christmas it is traditionally decorated with a touch of modern taste." Dan Dube is a teacher at Rolph Street PS, where Elliott Fairbairn was principal for many years.
8 – Rick and Louise McCollow
"We are decorated for Christmas in a traditional style. My grandmother's dining room table will be set for Christmas dinner with my great aunt's china."
9 – Station Arts Centre
"Everyone has been busy decorating this local historic site in traditional reds and golds, trees and accents to greet our visitors. During the day stop in to enjoy hit cider, refreshments and sweets in the Gallery Tea Room."
10 – Brian and Joanne Lee
"Christmas is our favorite time of year and our home reflects this. I get many of my decorating ideas from working at Tillsonburg Garden Gate."