The Kaitlyn Christmas Collection

treelot (300x278)Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, with a confession to make. Even though my husband and I operate a cut-your-own Christmas tree farm, I don’t decorate our house for the holidays. There are a couple of good reasons for this. One, we wouldn’t have much time to appreciate it, given how much time we spend outside helping other folks get ready for Christmas. Two, we have three cats. One of them has never met an object of any sort that he didn’t immediately begin to chew on. Three, we have a small house and there isn’t really any good place to put a Christmas tree, hang a couple of stockings, or set out cute holiday decorations. Plus, see reason number two again.

That said, our rustic rural abode is not entirely lacking in seasonal decor. It just comes in odd shapes, sizes, and locations and is left out year-round. Ready for the grand tour?

photo 4 (200x300)First and foremost is the singing mouse. This was a Christmas gift from our great niece a few years back. Press on her toe and she sings “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” while jiggling up and down in a little mouse dance. She lives on a high shelf, out of cat reach.

Next we have the Christmas choir. When I was a child, we had a set of these decorative candles that came out of storage every year and was displayed on top of the piano in the living room. Those original candles are long gone, but a few years ago I went on eBay and recreated the choir. This photo shows just a few of the members. They sing year-round on book shelves in our spare room.

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Another leftover from my childhood is an admiration for Royal Doulton figurines.Most of them are way too expensive for me to collect, but last year I came upon a sale of leftover Christmas figurines. The original issue was a set of twelve carolers, one for each of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” but I’m content to have eight, nine, and twelve. I wouldn’t have room for all of them anyway. They live on my DVD shelves.

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spikeEven without a tree in the house, I do have a couple of special ornaments. One is a Scottish dancer, given to me by a friend. The other I bought for myself about ten years ago. For those of you unfamiliar with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, this is Spike the vampire. I also have an action figure of Mr. Giles the librarian, but that’s another story. The ornaments (and Giles) live in my office.

One other Christmas tradition has turned into a collection. This is the Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle. The one I’m working on this year is called “Santa’s Big Night” and is actually five scenes in one. We have the jigsaw puzzle table set up by the window that looks out over the dooryard so I can work on it and watch for customers at the same time.

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So, that’s it: Kaitlyn’s Christmas Collection. What weird stuff do you bring out for the holidays (or keep out all year round)?


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12 Responses to The Kaitlyn Christmas Collection

  1. I enjoyed the tour through your house! Thanks, Kathy.

  2. Lea Wait says:

    I have a collections of (blushing) hundreds of Santas. Antique Santas and hand crafted Santas are my favorite, but, since people knew I collected them, many more have joined the crowd. When I lived in New Jersey and had a bigger house, children, and had two (or three) Christmas parties — one for New jersey, New York and Eastern Pennsylvania single adoptive parents and their children; one for folks who worked with me at the Big Corporation; and one for family and close friends …. I actually displayed most of those Santas. But now, both space and time and lack of audience leave most of the Santas in storage boxes. I did give in and put a dozen of my favorites on the living room mantel … but even out tree is down-sized this year … about 3 feet tall, and just covered with white lights. You see, I have this book deadline looming …..!

    Merry Christmas, Kaitlyn!

  3. Barb Ross says:

    I try to keep the Christmas stuff down to a dull roar, but it’s hard. We’re having 21 people for Christmas day, plus a separate presenting opening with our new grandchild and her parents this weekend since they’ll be in Virginia for the holiday.

    So we’re all decked out with a full size, real tree and stockings hung by the chimney with care (and I mean on a bookshelf by the chimney since we have no mantle) and all sorts of stuff.

    We’re leaving for Key West two days after Christmas, so my biggest worry is about how all this gets put away. I’d hate to come home mid-Feb and have to face it.

  4. Mary Anne Sullivan says:

    I’ve been enjoying your books. One question….if your cats won’t leave trees alone, how do you get them to leave the jigsaw puzzle alone when it’s not done? We have to do quick easy ones here so we can shut the cat in my bedroom while we do one. So we do only the kids’ puzzles and no involved adult ones. The cat’s ornaments are on the bottom and he’s happy just cuffing those off and chasing them around the house. He also sleeps under the tree rather than at the foot of my bed during “the season.”

    • Hi, Mary Anne,

      If only our cats would be that cooperative! You’ve heard the expression “three dog night?” Around here we have three cat nights. Doesn’t leave much room in the bed for people!

      As for the puzzle, that’s a story in itself. A few years ago, when I was complaining about how many pieces the cats scattered, lost, or chewed on, my husband, who was just getting into woodworking as something to do when he retired, built a jigsaw puzzle table for me, complete with drawers for the pieces and a cover that goes over the puzzle in progress to protect it from kids, cats, and other hazards. Since then, making jigsaw puzzle tables has turned into a steady business for him. He made over fifty jigsaw puzzle tables this year, selling them online to folks all over this country and in Canada, too. If you’d like a closer look at the tables, and his workshop, you can find lots of pictures at And, as you’ve probably already guessed, Sandy’s woodworking is the inspiration for the woodworking Dan Ruskin does in the Liss MacCrimmon mysteries.


      • RedwoodSinger says:

        Rgarding the puzzle tables, I was about to say, “and another piece of the puzzle has been filled in,” and then I realized what a horrible pun it would be. However, another part of Liss and Dan’s world has been brought to light. Thank you.

  5. Karla Whitney says:

    If one of your e-bay choir singers has little teeth marks in it, I seem to remember my brother convincing me they were edible and encouraging me to bite one. A perfect Christmas day memory to bring up when I see him. Thanks for highlighting those gems.

  6. Kate Flora says:

    Super! Although this makes me wish I’d taken a few more things from my mother’s house…like the Santa mugs, those little choir cherub candles, and the nimble elves that clung to the red candlesticks. I do wonder where it all went.

    We do still have some of the jigsaw cut ornaments that went on the tree every year.

    You definitely don’t need a tree. (Another tree, that is!)

  7. Carole Price says:

    I love your collection. They’re absolutely adorable. I set up my snow covered David Winter Cottages, complete with porcelain figurines and ice rink (mirror). It makes a small village.

  8. RedwoodSinger says:

    Hmm… Several of these decorations seem somewhat familiar. I must have read about them in a book somewhere. A Blythe Yule an a Guid Hogmanay to you and your kin.

  9. I love starting my morning with the Maine Crime Writers! It makes sense that you would most appreciate your trees in situ. And then there’s reason number two. My own favorite decoration came to me this time last year. It’s a Christmas wreath made of antique ornaments. One if the pieces is a colorful, jolly Santa who seems to be winking at me. A new friend makes these and gave me one. I’ll probably never take it down. It’s a treasure.

  10. Cynthia Blain says:

    Loved your posting of your unique items for Christmas. I have many of special items (special to me anyway) and they are a hand done (by me) lighted Gingerbread house with doors and window that light shines out from within. It was completed in 1977 and our children now, 40 and 44 remember seeing this on a table every year since they were very young and to this day, Christmas is not complete without that house being lighted every night all season long. If they come in to our home to visit, that gingerbread house has to be lit!!!

    Other special items are a Christmas angel treetop crocheted by a very dear old friend. Have had this tree topper for at least 38 years.

    We also have a few special ornaments one of which is a little wooden pig with a little curly tail made of leather which is all dried up but I guess that happens when you have had a little wooden pig from one of the Caribbean islands for something like 48 years. We also have a “pickle” ornament for each of our three grandchildren, and those HAVE to be on our tree every year for them to find each time they come to see us, which is five days a week.

    We also have the Elf on a Shelf, and he is a good elf and never gets into trouble. We have had him around for many years but he has been watching over the grandkids now who are 10, 6 and 2, and doing his job quite well I might add.

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane tonight. I enjoyed it so much. Merry Christmas.

    Cynthia Blain

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