A Tynes Family Christmas

Margaret and David Tynes of Petal got an early start on what has become a number of Christmas traditions while on their honeymoon in Florida 38 years ago. Everywhere they travel they purchase an ornament to bring back.

That first year the couple bought an ornament – a clear glass pear in which sits a partridge in a pear tree. Each year the ornament has a special place of honor on the couple’s Christmas tree, which up until this year has always been freshly cut. Since building this house, their tree has always been upwards of 12 feet.

But this year, because the couple spent Thanksgiving week out of state visiting family, they weren’t going to be in town to bring a fragrant beauty home as in the past. And as they get older, the struggle to try and wrangle a live 12-foot-behemoth becomes more difficult. They realized that it might be time for an artificial tree.

David shudders at the thought, but says “it’ll do.” His three sons are worried.

“It really is pretty and once we get it decorated I know it will be fine and it will be so much better,” David said. “It’s time. I couldn’t continue doing what I’ve done. It took literally days just to put the (approximately 5,500) lights on.”

“Margaret and I are very traditional and we like the colored lights. The new tree can be all colored lights, all white lights or a combination of both.”

The tree is filled with the couple’s collection of mercury glass ornaments, too numerous to count, as well as other special ornaments, such as those the couple has purchased on their travels here and there.

There are also special ornaments mirroring the family’s yearly Christmas card, a photo of the entire family. This year’s card features a trip to DisneyWorld all 11 members of the family took.

The top of the tree features a two-foot mercury glass finial, which the couple happened upon during one of their antiquing trips. “We’ve never seen another one like it,” Margaret said.

They also have 25 to 30 larger Dept. 56 mercury glass ornaments, which fill in nicely among the smaller ornaments.

The tree takes center stage each year in the family’s great room. 

Another highlight of the room is an incredible nativity scene that is placed on the mantel, a gift from Margaret, who works as Human Resources and Federal Programs director with the Petal School District, to her pharmacist husband.

A special lit manger was crafted by a friend with live cedar boughs added.

The couple has an affinity for the holiday, but David does the majority of the decorating. “He does the labor,” said Margaret. “I do more of the, ‘I think that might look good over there’ decorating.”

He’s always had a love for the Christmas holiday. “I loved watching my dad, he was Mr. Christmas, putting up a Christmas tree,” remembers David. “We didn’t have a whole lot. We grew up very poor, but I remember watching him; he wouldn’t let anybody help him with the old lights that you had to clip on each limb. But we would get to help decorate it. And then at the end we would all get to do the icicles. We would try and throw them and they’d bunch up and he’d make us take them off. They had to be draped.”

The couple go all out decorating their home for the enjoyment of their three sons, three daughters-in-law and three grandchildren. Last year, the house dressed to the hilt, they hosted an open house for family and friends.

At certain times, like 2017, there is an added attraction, even bigger than the Christmas tree – the family’s Original Department 56 Snow Village. We aren’t talking about a few lit houses, some trees and some pedestrians walking the snow-covered streets of this mythical village. We are talking a full-blown village (Population: A whole bunch) with every store imaginable, houses ranging from Victorians to the country home complete with barn. There are ski slopes with actual skiers, an ice skating pond with colorfully bundled skaters, a carousel which goes round and round and a train that chugs its way through town.

To say it’s an undertaking to put the village up would be an understatement. In past years when the village was constructed, work began in September with the help of “my three sons” and others. Snow-covered tables and shelves had to be erected, but first, a majority of the furniture had to be moved out of the formal dining room. With the completion of a new sun room last year, the village found a home there, thus allowing another spot to add some Christmas cheer. And as the grandchildren get older, they can appreciate it more, so there’s a need to start putting some of it up every year. “But no matter how long it takes, it’s all worth it to see the grandchildren’s faces when they look at it,” said Margaret.

And while you can’t imagine there could be any more pieces to add, there are­ quite a few more.

The village was started when middle son, Paul, about four years old at the time, visited a friend’s house where a small village was displayed and came home expressing the desire for village pieces for his birthday, which wasn’t until July. And that started the construction process – a village piece for birthdays, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other gift-giving opportunities, as well as gifts from friends. According to Margaret, as it grew the other two boys kind of bought into it as well.

 “As each piece was bought, we put each boy’s name on it. This went on for years with the plan to split it up when they got older and maybe they would take it with them. That hasn’t worked out just yet, so we’ve got it.”

The family has no idea how many pieces they have, but there is a room at the top of the stairs that was built especially to house the village and other holiday trappings.

With the tree and the snow village, what else could there be? So glad you asked.

A pencil tree in a corner of the sun room is the Children’s Tree and in past years held special ornaments made by the Tynes sons. Now, the grandchildren are adding their own creations.

Another tree with white lights, in a corner of the breakfast room, is the Nativity Tree and features only ornaments featuring the Holy Family. The felt tree skirt, made by Margaret’s mother, also features a nativity.

Other décor throughout the house includes colorful handmade beaded ornaments Margaret and her grandmother made, which hang on a small gold tree in the center of the dining room table. On the buffet, some of the same type ornaments fill a crystal bowl, but these were purchased during an antiquing adventure. 

Around the house there are also a number of nativity scenes from all over the world – a sandstone set or two David brought back from mission trips in Nicaragua; a cornsilk nativity from Africa, given to David by daughter-in-law Brooklee; and another from a Africa gifted by daughter-in-law Raven.

There’s a three-piece porcelain nativity Margaret’s mother purchased in Germany when they visited her brother, who was stationed there. 

Other nativities include one that belonged to Margaret’s parents, which she remembers putting out as a child, a band of dancing angels the couple bought on their honeymoon, a matchbox nativity and a small wooden music box nativity. 

In the family room, which is more child friendly, stockings are hung by the chimney with care. The original five monogrammed needlepoint stockings were made by Margaret. As daughters-in-law were added to the family, Margaret ordered monogrammed needlepoint stockings and as grandchildren came along, she had stockings made from an old, colorful, granny square afghan her mother made. She still has three stockings left, but no pressure there.

The mantle is decorated with holiday-colored finials placed among garland and whimsical glittery trees. 

The room also includes a child’s nativity, which they can rearrange, as well as soft, stuffed nativity figures and other Christmas cheer, including a small old-timey plastic tree with real gumdrops.

The two-story brick home’s exterior, above windows and doors, is also decorated with evergreen garlands or wreaths with red ribbons. Old-fashioned blow-mold figures tastefully grace different portions of the hilly landscape. A nativity scene, recently acquired at a Christmas market and once used at a Jackson church, sits at the foot of the hill as you turn into the driveway, while further up the winding drive stands a Santa underneath a gumdrop tree – a cherry tree that is adorned with thousands of small colorful lights and a holiday favorite.

It’s a wonderful home for making Christmas memories and spreading holiday joy.