Published December 24 2010
O Christmas tree, 14 times over: Woman turns home into wonderland
Thirteen artificial evergreens emerge from underneath the staircase.
Eleven plastic totes filled with more than 1,000 ornaments are pulled from the crawl spaces.
And, when she’s finished a week later, Bonnie Loomer basks in a Christmas display that could make a Macy’s decorator red in the cheeks.
“This is my thing, Christmas, right here,” she declares, as if there were any doubt.
During the past 14 years, the rural postal carrier has amassed a mind-boggling collection of Christmas ornaments, mostly of the Hallmark variety.
She arranges the trees, each with its own theme, in the living and dining rooms of her Enderlin home, leaving little room for living and dining but giving visitors a visual holiday treat.
Her fixation began in 1996 with the purchase of the Wicked Witch of the West from “Wizard of Oz.”
Now, Loomer decorates an entire tree with characters, scenes and accessories from the movie. Dorothy’s flashing red slippers dangle from one branch. Glinda the Good Witch of the North hangs in a clear plastic bubble. Another ornament depicts the famous “I’m melting!” scene, complete with a collapsing witch.
There’s a Disney tree, a Winnie the Pooh tree, a Looney Tunes tree, a Barbie tree and a Christmas characters tree with Frosty, Rudolph and the rest of the gang.
In one corner of the dining room stands a dwarfish Coca-Cola tree. A nearby tree sports miscellaneous memorabilia, from a Fisher-Price toy farm set to the wooden crate containing the infamous leg lamp from “A Christmas Story.”
Many of the ornaments have moving parts and make sounds. For example, the wooden crate, marked FRAGILE, plays the voice of Ralphie’s dad remarking, “It must be Italian.”
“It takes a lot of time to get them up and running,” Loomer said. “It’s just kind of fun.”
She gets some assistance from her husband, Chuck, who helps pull out the trees and totes and puts up the 10-foot-tall inflatable Grinch outside on the deck. In the past, he’s helped hang ornaments, too.
“But sometimes my fingers get too big, and that stuff’s kind of delicate, and I broke a couple pieces here and there along the line, so I kind of quit,” he said.
He has his own tree, too, bedecked in classic cars, a lawnmower and an open gas grill with three tiny hamburgers imprinted with “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
Actually, Loomer said, her spouse has two trees. The Grinch-themed tree also is his, “because he’s kind of grinchy at Christmas,” she said.
“I used to wonder why,” she said. “He says there’s too much junk everywhere.”
Her husband explained his side of the story.
“I just get to be kind of grinchy when I’m spending money,” he quipped.
Indeed, the cheapest ornaments cost around $10, and the most expensive ones are $40 to $50, Loomer said, adding she earns Hallmark points as she builds her collection.
“Believe me, I am a platinum buyer,” she said.
Despite the expense, her husband said he enjoys his wife’s hobby.
“It’s fun to look at,” he said.
Loomer used to buy the ornaments at a drugstore in Lisbon until it stopped carrying the Hallmark series. Now, she goes to Fargo, buying about 40 ornaments this year alone.
Visiting friends and family members are careful around the trees, she said, but she encourages them to explore the ornaments.
“What good are they if you can’t touch them?” she said.
Loomer doesn’t stop at just decorating trees. Wreaths decorated with Harley-Davidson motorcycles (who knew Santa wore a leather jacket?) and military memorabilia (Chuck was in the Navy) adorn the walls, while U.S. Postal Service figurines populate the garland hanging between the two rooms.
She also collects spoons, beer steins and Mexican dolls, among other things.
“I collect everything,” she said.
The Loomers’ traditionally decorated Christmas tree – and the only real one in the bunch – is relegated to the garage. It’s the only room big enough to accommodate Bonnie’s family – seven sisters and 18 nieces and nephews with five children of their own.
Her daughter, who lives in West Fargo, hasn’t caught the collecting bug yet, but she does have her own Barbie tree, so Loomer always buys two of each of those ornaments, she said.
Loomer said she doesn’t know when she’ll stop collecting ornaments.
“It’ll end when Hallmark quits making them, I suppose,” she said.
If Loomer does decide someday to sell or pass down her ornaments, the recipient won’t have trouble finding out who made them.
She still has all of the original boxes.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528