MERRIFIELD - If you're having a difficult time getting in the mood for Christmas, take a look at Mark and Donna Galbreath's home in Merrifield.
It will get you in the holiday swing of things.
Inside the home - formerly the old schoolhouse in town - are about 35 Christmas trees and numerous Christmas collections, including musical, dancing Santas; angels; nativity scenes; Christmas villages; Christmas clocks; and Santa Bears.
Still, it's not the abundance of Christmas decor that will get you into the holiday mood. It's the Galbreaths themselves who will touch your heart.
Donna and Mark Galbreath stood in front of the main Christmas tree Monday in their Merrifield home. Donna is holding the couple's first Styrofoam ball ornament, which was purchased in 1982. The couple has purchased such ornaments each year since they've been married.
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The couple has a strong faith, made even stronger after Mark almost lost his life in 1992. The couple was living in Baxter at the time and Galbreath was electrocuted in the backyard.
"We have a lot to be grateful for," Donna said. "We received so much support from people we knew and support from those we didn't know during that time; it was truly unbelievable."
Today, the couple is doing well and continue to do it up big for Christmas.
"We used to be like normal people who put up just one Christmas tree, but it's grown over the years," Donna said. "I guess you could say we're a little obsessive."
The Galbreath's multiple tree collection began when their first tree was in need of replacement. Or so they thought. The Galbreaths purchased a twirling Christmas tree at a retail store after the holidays at half price.
A few of the about 35 trees in Donna and Mark Galbreath's Merrifield home. Also in the room are some of the Galbreaths' other collections, such as Santa teddy bears and musical Santas. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"After we got this tree we looked at the other tree and said, 'This one ain't so bad,'" Donna Galbreath said. "So we fixed it up and kept it."
The Galbreaths purchased all their Christmas trees, which are all artificial, at discount prices after Christmas or at garage or rummage sales. The couple found one of the trees that sits in the living room on the side of the road.
"It needed a few repairs, but I fixed it," Mark said. "It looks almost brand-new."
Donna and Mark Galbreath's home in Merrifield is all decked out with Christmas cheer. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Their Christmas trees include a white tree with red ornaments; a patriotic tree in red, white and blue; several fiber-optic trees; small "up north" trees with white lights; three homemade ceramic trees; and their main Christmas tree - the one that twirls.
The twirling tree is covered with homemade angels made by Mark's mother, as well as Styrofoam ball ornaments that date back to 1982, the year the couple was married.
And let's not forget about all the other collections, including the Christmas jar collection, with about 30 jars on display.
"None of them have cookies in them," Galbreath said with a smile. "And I have as many regular cookie jars that are displayed on the shelves for the rest of the year."
The Galbreaths also collect Santa Bears, which are displayed around the house. They began collecting the bears in 1986 and said their 2007 Santa Bear will be the last of the collection.
Donna and Mark Galbreath's kitchen includes a white Christmas tree decorated in red bulbs. A small gum drop tree also sits on the kitchen table. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
The Galbreaths said it takes about 10 days to decorate for Christmas because of the volume of decorations, and they take several breaks. They begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving Day and take everything down New Year's Day.
The Galbreaths turn on all their Christmas lights daily to enjoy.
"Some people ask us why we do this, especially on days when we don't have company," Donna said. "But we enjoy this. Everyone has one thing they splurge on and this is ours. It's one month a year and it's the way we chose to spend our money."
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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