Thirty-five years ago Rita Anglin Wooldridge and Glenn Wooldridge began dating.
“On one of our first dates we went skiing,” Rita said. “I had never been. I went down the slope and I fell under the snow machine. I laid under that snow machine until he came back. My eyelashes were frozen.
“It’s been a crazy time,” she said while reflecting on their relationship.
Glenn and Rita are the owners of Wooldridge Jewelers on East Main.
“The first few years we had Christmas together we had nothing,” Rita said. “Some of the things he got me in the beginning are real special to me.”
She still has their first Christmas ornament which is a picture from when they first started dating. She also still has the first present that Glenn bought her for Christmas — a Dooney and Bourke purse with a matching billfold and key chain.
“That was the first thing he got me and it was special,” she said. “He likes to make everyone feel special at Christmas.”
Now, the couple have a beautiful colonial home located at 247 Valley Vista Drive in the Tanglewood neighborhood, and they are still making sure everyone feels special at Christmas.
When you first arrive at their home during the holiday season you are greeted by dozens of blowups that include a 12-foot Grinch and the abominable snowman. The most impressive blow-up is a 25-foot Frosty the Snowman that they used to put on top of their business.
There are many antique blow molds of Santas, snowmen and a Nativity scene. Rita and Glenn welcome people to stop and see the display whenever they’d like. The lights stay on and the inflatables stay up 24 hours a day.
“I leave it on 24 hours,” he said. “The electric bill isn’t bad, since a lot of it is LED lights.”
He also invites people to get out of their vehicles and walk around the driveway to get a better view of the display.
“People can come out and walk through and enjoy the display,” he said.
Since Glenn heads up the decorations on the outside of the home, Rita takes over inside.
Upon entering their home, the foyer is decorated with snowmen and Santas. A curio cabinet is filled with some of Rita’s favorite decorations.
The couple doesn’t get all of their decorations out anymore, but they still unpack a lot. They have an 18-wheeler size storage container on property they own that their decorations fill.
From the front door looking straight to the back of the house, is a view of their Christmas tree loaded with lights and ornaments from their travels.
“My favorite thing is decorating the tree with all of the ornaments,” Rita said.
They typically purchase a real 7 to 9 foot tree from Wilson’s Nursery. Her favorite ornament on the tree is a jellyfish she purchased while on vacation with her family in the Florida Keys.
“I love turning the lights off and everyone is in bed and it’s just me,” Rita said. “I sit down and look at the tree and think about when my mom and dad were alive. It gives me a special feeling.”
Rita’s other favorite collection is her Christmas villages. She estimates she has about 50 different buildings. The villages are set up on several surfaces. One is on a desk, another on a buffet. One that stays out year around is on shelves near the ceiling in her dining area.
She has village pieces by Thomas Kincaid, Department 56 and more. One of her sets of villages came from a woman’s estate sale in Danville.
“She had 20 years of collecting Thomas Kincaid pieces and all of these beautiful villages,” Rita said. “Glenn bought it from her. She was tickled to death because she didn’t want it separated.”
She has other brands of villages as well.
“I don’t really care if it’s a certain brand as long as they look good together,” she said.
Rita also loves to decorate around her fireplace. An old train sits in front of the fireplace along with baskets filled with cinnamon cones. She hangs the stockings using hangers she made that support the weight of the stockings.
“I stuff the stockings really full and I have little elves that are holding a basket and the stockings go in those,” she said.
Rita admits she may go a little overboard at Christmas, but like Glenn, she likes to make sure everyone feels special.
“I like to make my own bows and I like to make every present different,” she said. “By the end of December, I’m worn out.”
Even though her children are grown, she and Glenn still stack up presents under the tree for them.
“We put a lot of presents under the tree,” she said. “They like to unwrap. They know how much I love it and how much I love doing this stuff for them. They get into it. Sometimes I don’t know what to get them. I have them make Amazon gift lists.”
Rita has four sons, Brandon, Glenn C., Bailey and Williams and two grandchildren Tramane and Jozalynn.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, their Christmas gatherings haven’t been quite as large, but she typically will host up to 60 people at her home for Christmas.
“We used to have every Christmas here,” she said. “I would cook for his family and mine, and anyone else who didn’t have anywhere to go.
“I would make big portions of everything. I would cook for three days getting it ready. I would be worn out, but it was so fun. I do love to cook and they know I’ll do it. I really like to bake. I would have to make like 10 desserts.”
Rita said Glenn also buys presents for everyone.
“He would have a long list to buy for. He would buy for a second cousin and his second cousin’s girlfriend. He would go out until 2 a.m. shopping on Christmas Eve. He’s always made Christmas special for us.”