Smitten with the Season




Smitten-with-the-Season-WEB-3Recipe for Christmas bliss: Take one 100-year-old house in the heart of Jackson’s Belhaven historic district. Add two fun-loving grandparents and four grown children, and mix in eleven grandchildren. Dress them all in holiday pajamas, and send them down the staircase one by one on Christmas morning. Yield: a special day that embodies the love this family expresses all year long.

“I raised all my babies here,” says Diane of her Belhaven home. “We love our house, and our kids love our house. And we love to keep our Christmas traditions.”


So it’s no surprise that the home Diane shares with her husband is the centerpiece for many holiday activities for this growing clan. Diane starts the season by pulling out her favorite holiday collections and treasures, including an angel named Abigail who always hangs over the mantel. There are rows of nutcrackers standing at attention, a flock of angels in the living room, a candy land in the kitchen and rosy-cheeked Santa Claus figures. There’s even one very special life-size Santa who stays in the house all year long.“We decorate him for the other holidays too,” Diane says. “We put hearts on him for Valentine’s Day. Sometimes he’s a Saint. Sometimes he’s a Rebel. When we go to Seaside, he’s dressed for the beach.”

The holiday season, though, is when the couple’s playful spirit really shines. Even passersby can’t help but get into the Christmas mood when they see a 1967 Jeep named “Murphy” parked out front with Santa sitting inside. “People come from all over to take pictures with it,” Diane says.


While Diane’s decorating scheme is classic Christmas with its reds and greens, her oldest daughter Marley, who lives in a nearby Jackson neighborhood with her family, takes a bolder approach with her holiday accents. With a theme of “glitz, glam and family traditions,” Marley adds a little extra sparkle to her home’s existing Hollywood Regency style by incorporating brightly colored balls and shimmering ice garland. The children’s Christmas artwork hangs in the kitchen, and Marley’s childhood collection of snow globes is in the living room. Even her three children’s rooms are decked with strings of lights and miniature trees.

Although their decorating styles may appear in stark contrast, Diane says she and Marley are very much alike in many ways. “We both love rich color, and we love art,” Diane says. “We like things with texture and depth.”

Smitten-with-the-Season-WEB-7Throughout the season, Marley and her family—along with her other siblings and their families—often gather at the Belhaven house to make memories. They have hot chocolate and chili before the annual Belhaven College Singing Christmas Tree event, and on Christmas Eve they dance and sing together. On Christmas morning, everyone parades down the stairs in birth order to exchange gifts and share a special brunch.

“We all believe in Christmas,” Diane says. “It’s in our hearts. We believe that Santa Claus is shown in your kindness and love—and the spirit that lives in you.”