Christmas lights brighten up Todd and Connie Lyscio's home in southeast Brainerd. The home has been in Todd Lyscio's family for three generations.Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Todd Lyscio has spent every single Christmas at his home in Brainerd, which was built in the early 1940s.
His grandparents, Charlie and Maude Peabody, lived in the home on 13th Street, southeast of town, for many years and later handed it down to Lyscio's parents.
Ten years ago, Lyscio and his wife, Connie, bought the home.
"When we first started dating I told Todd that I love this house," Connie said. "This house has always had the feeling of Christmas. Even though we have redone every room in the house the feeling is still here."
Todd calls his wife the "Christmas queen" when it comes to playing up the feeling of the holidays. Connie not only has her Christmas shopping done by August, she has the presents wrapped.
The word "believe" is stitched in this quilt that hangs in the stairway in the Lyscios' home.Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger
"I listen to Christmas CDs when I wrap the gifts," she said. "It makes it more fun."
Connie said in October she slowly sneaks out a Christmas decoration or two before the family's tradition of decorating the house the morning of Thanksgiving.
"Todd pretends not to notice, but he knows what I am doing," she said. "He won't admit it, but he likes the holidays and the decorating."
The family takes all Thanksgiving morning to put up their Christmas tree and other decorations. They enjoy the family time, while eating caramel rolls and drinking egg nog.
Each year the first ornament hung on the tree is the couple's "Our First Christmas Together" ornament, consisting of two squirrels surrounded by a heart.
"The angel always goes up last," said Todd. "I always lift up my son to put the angel on the tree."
This stuffed Santa sits in a chair by the fireplace waiting for the "true" Santa Claus to come down the chimney.Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger
Their sons, Tom, 14, and Michael, 6, each receive an ornament from their parents every year.
"Michael doesn't understand why Tom has more ornaments than he does," said Connie.
The Christmas tree is full of purchased and homemade ornaments and red, green and tan wooden beads. A string of white lights is wrapped around the tree.
Outdoors there are white dangling Christmas lights to match the tree. Each year Todd gets out the ladder to put the lights up on the house and the deck. Last year he fell off the ladder, and this year he was reluctant to hang the lights. However, after a lot of begging from his wife, he got into the Christmas spirit and hung them, he said.
Todd and Connie Lyscio, along with their two boys, spend Thanksgiving morning putting up their Christmas tree.Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger
The home is decorated mainly with angels and stars. Connie said stars make her think of angels, and angels make her think of her mother, who died 10 years ago around the holidays.
Above the windows in the living room are vine wreaths intertwined with red and blue stars. Next to the window is a shelf with snow globes and more stars and hearts.
Four homemade Christmas stockings hang from the white rock granite fireplace mantel waiting to be filled with Santa's gifts. A two-foot tall stuffed Santa sits in a chair near the stockings. Greenery, lights, stars and candles rest on the mantel. Hanging in front of the fireplace are four "V" shaped vases filled with holiday berries.
Tonight, a plate of cookies and a glass of milk will be placed in front of the fireplace for Santa.
Throughout the home are several crafts with the word "Believe" inscribed in them. Connie said the family has strong Christian beliefs and on Christmas they focus on Jesus' birthday.
"We still get a Santa," she said. "We teach the kids that Santa is a man who loves Jesus and loves kids."
A wooden "believe" craft hangs above the doorframe to the kitchen from the dining room. The doorframe has white swinging saloon doors with star cutouts.
A string of snowmen and Christmas light bulbs enhanced the white with greenish tip holiday berries on the window in the stairway.Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger
A few small Christmas trees are found throughout the house, as well as different messages stitched in a frame, including "Dear Santa, I can explain" or "May the spirit of Christmas fill your heart."
All the window valances have a craft of berries, with some other kind of craft, including stars and snowmen.
The day after Christmas all the decorations are taken down. Connie said this is a depressing day for her. She said everything must come down this day, otherwise they never would be taken down.
However, even when the three-generation home shows no signs of Christmas, the memories the Lyscios have collected through the years continue to live on.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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