Gilberts house becomes a 'winter wonderland'
Jan Rohlf has been filling her home with Christmas trees for at least 20 years. The Gilberts woman spent three days decorating nine trees with lights and ornaments and setting up a few others throughout the house right after Thanksgiving. They will be in place until the middle of January.
"I just love decorating," Rohlf said. "It started with a couple trees and it just gradually picked up every year."
Most of her trees are themed. The Santa tree is her largest, boasting more than 200 ornaments in the shape of the most famous north pole resident. One tree is decorated in an old-fashioned style, another with mostly red and white ornaments. The biggest tree is a revolving one that has a mix of everything on it.
Rohlf shops all year at a host of places including Macy's, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and antique stores. When she sees something she likes, she buys it and adds it to the ever-growing collection.
"I have developed an eye for things," Rohlf said. "I find them everywhere."
Her newest tree is full of figurines. Rohlf said she bought a couple here and there over the years and ended up with at least 30 — enough to decorate an individual tree.
Rohlf's decorating fervor stems from her childhood. She said watching her dad put up the tree and the ensuing excitement as he plugged in the lights for the first time has stuck with her.
"I just enjoy the magic of the holiday season," Rohlf said. "It's just a good time for me."
All of Rohlf's trees are fake this year. She said she used to have real ones but switched over for less mess, though she does love the live trees. Next year Rohlf plans to buy one real tree to set up in the screened porch to be able to enjoy the look and smell of evergreen but keep her floors safe from water and needles.
Between Rohlf and her husband Greg, the couple has eight children and eight grandchildren, many of whom enjoy the "winter wonderland" the home turns into. Rohlf's husband said it's a vacation just to be able to turn on some Christmas music and enjoy the company of family while admiring the decorations.
The trees stay up for about six weeks and give Rohlf a chance to sit and enjoy the beauty as dusk falls and the trees light up.
"During the Christmas season I watch very little TV," Rohlf said. "I just sit and watch my trees."
Rohlf stretches out her holiday happiness until weeks after Christmas when she resigns herself to packing up her decorations until next year. She said it's a sad time — but at least it's temporary.
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