Upon arriving at Jane Johnson’s home over the holidays, you quickly realize that her Christmas decoration collection is just as big as her heart.
Always with a smile on her face, no matter what she may be facing, Jane’s main goal over the holiday season is to spread joy to friends, family and passersby.
“If it puts a smile on someone’s face, I like it,” Jane said. “That’s how I judge all of my stuff.”
Jane has lived in the Crestwood neighborhood for more than 60 years. She spent the later part of her childhood in a house on Hillwood. Then, she and her late husband, James, bought a house on Linden Avenue, before purchasing their current home on Birchwood Avenue about 30 years ago.
“I have lived within the same block since 1962,” she said.
At their first house, Jane said she and James put Christmas lights on the outside of the house.
“We used big pretty lights at our first house, then we brought the lights over here,” she said.
They had a large evergreen tree in their side yard that they used the lights to decorate.
“Miss Mitchell lived in the brick house across the street. She was bedridden. We decorated it so she could see it. She said she enjoyed the lights on the tree. That was the beginning of it. If she enjoyed it, other people would enjoy it.”
Jane’s outdoor collection has now grown to include several wooden Christmas yard art decorations by David Thompson of David’s Woodworking and Yardart. She has a scene from the Grinch, a Santa and sleigh, Mrs. Claus, Baby Jesus, snowmen and more. Lights and lasers also decorate the front of her home.
“When you get into this stuff, it’s fun,” Jane said. “People want to know when we’re going to put it out.”
Jane receives help from her daughters, Jennifer, Stephanie and Angie, and grandchildren with decorating.
Inside, she has two large Christmas trees — one tree is flocked. She bought it for $5 from an auction. She also has several smaller trees, each decorated with a different theme. One is covered with angels, while another is decorated with dog ornaments.
The angel ornaments came from an auction. “I thought I was bidding on one tub of angels, but I was bidding on three tubs of angels. I got them dirt cheap. I paid less than $10.”
She filled a cabinet in her home with some of the angels — others, she gives away.
Her dog tree also came from an auction. “My kids are animal lovers,” she said. “My dad was a veterinarian. We always had dogs.”
Looking at an ornament of a dachshund wearing a top hat, she said, “Look at the eyes on that. You have to fall in love with it.”
Along with the trees, which are loaded with Christmas presents around the base as the holiday approaches, are several toys her grandchildren enjoy playing with and figurines that sit on tables and hutches in her home.
One decoration children really enjoy is a magnetic ice skating rink that when turned on, ice skaters glide across the rink in different directions. The figurines can be picked up and moved around the rink.
The ice skating rink came from Sears and Roebuck in Frankfort where Jane served as a sales manager for 35 years.
“Someone found the ice rink in the stock room when they were cleaning and they asked if I wanted to buy it,” she said. “This was one of the first things I bought. When the kids are young, you don’t have a lot of money. They love it. Kids will sit there for hours and play with it.”
Jane worked her last two years at the Sears in Lexington. She retired in 2002.
There is also a carousel that goes around and plays music that her grandchildren like to play with.
“I don’t care if they play with it,” she said. “What joy does it bring if they can’t play with it?”
Also in her collection of indoor Christmas decorations are several Santa figurines. Her love for Santa started at a very young age, and is more than likely a trait she received from her father — Santa himself.
“My first encounter with Santa was when we lived in a small village in New York, probably not even the size of Anderson County,” Jane recalled. “Everybody went to town and got their groceries. When we saw Santa Claus in a department store window, we would go get in line and talk to Santa.
“Before going one night to talk to Santa, my dad, who wore cufflinks on his shirts, asked me to go into the store and get a certain pair of cufflinks for him. I went in and got them, and then I went downtown to talk to Santa. When I saw him, I hollered out ‘That’s my daddy.’
“Santa Claus had my cufflinks on. I can almost see it. He told me to shut up until I got home. He told me that he was a helper. He explained it well. He was good at being Santa too.”
When Christmas Day arrives, Jane said her 13 immediate family members will gather at her house, along with their significant others and her brothers and their families.
When they leave, she knows they will have smiles on their faces.
“They’re happy,” Jane said. “I know they are. We all have to have a little kid in us.”