Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 2, 2012

Photos of Christmas

Decor enthusiast has taken picture of every Christmas tree since 1984

By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — —  When Ann and Steve Farmer were building their home in the Glenwood area of Princeton, the couple picked out a floor plan that would make Santa and his elves extremely happy. No, not a fireplace.

“I wanted a huge Christmas tree,” Ann Farmer said. “So we picked out the floor plan that would fit a 12-foot tree.”

They moved into their home in 1984. That same year, Farmer started a different type of tradition. She began taking photographs of her Christmas tree and placing them in an album.

“I wanted to know how I decorated from year to year,” Farmer said. “I wanted to know where I placed certain items and then I could either repeat it or change it up. It was mostly for a reference.”

She had always taken photos, but not organized them into albums.

She said she tends to be critical of her work, often musing how her taste has changed through the years. And the rules have changed for Christmas decor.

In the 80s, handmade ornaments were popular, she said. No one can forget colored lights. Then came the gold, maroon and hunter green decorations. Tinsel and garland made way for beads, ribbons and fabric. The color of Christmas got a makeover — lime, pinks, purples, candy apple reds, teals and blues. Another new trend is the natural look using white, beige and browns with burlap, wood and evergreen. And of course, the traditional red and green is always popular.

“I laugh at how the styles have changed,” she said.

Sometimes she thinks her past trees were plain, or even tacky. Since her daughters Erica and Rhanda have grown up and now have families of their own, the book of photos has changed from a reference guide to a trip down memory lane.

“The trees bring those memories back and we can recall them easier,” she said.

She said one photo reminds her of when the family had the flu over the holidays.

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A retired Mercer County School teacher, Farmer has always loved the holidays. But not for the glitter or shine of the decorations, but for the affects of Christmas on mankind.

“I believe people are nicer during Christmas,” she said. “People are more considerate and its a feeling that we should have throughout the entire year. I wish mankind could carry it through.”

It also brings her joy.

When she first started decorating her 12-foot tree, it took her and her husband five days. Now, the couple can finish the task in two days. However, there are requirements.

The tree has to match the decor in her living room, she said. And the ribbon winds around the tree just so. Her husband has to climb a 12-foot ladder to decorate the top. She said she holds her breath and hopes he doesn’t drop certain ornaments.

She is content with her color scheme, which is shades of blue, teal and silver.

Farmer is eager to try a few new decorating trends like adding fabric and tulle or large flowers. She said she gets new ideas by visiting holiday shows and Christmas shops around the area and in Tennessee.

“That was before HGTV,” she added. “I like to see what the professionals do. I sit and study the design and take it apart in my mind.”

She can recreate the same look, for less money.

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 A second tree — a white tree with more whimsical ornaments — is in their extra room. It holds childhood ornaments or special decorations.

She said the 12-foot tree in the living room is usually called “Mom’s tree.”

She believes she has passed on her love of Christmas to her daughters.

“My daughter Erica is becoming the same way,” she said. “Her and Rhanda have picked it up and the trend will continue to the next generation.”

With more than 200 photos of her Christmas decorations, she had a lot to look back on and reminisce, from decorations to family moments around the tree.