Waverly couple shows off Christmas decor for holiday tour

WAVERLY — On Sunday afternoon, six weeks before Santa boards his sleigh, four Waverly homes will be winter wonderland, welcoming locals for seasonal greetings for the big day.

The Waverly Community Library’s annual Holiday Tour of Homes will take place this Sunday from 1-4 p.m., and a concurrent craft fair will be hosted at the Waverly Community Foundation Building from 1-5 p.m. Tickets for the tour cost $10 each.

The Waverly News got a sneak peek at one of the homes on its holiday tour before it opens to the public this weekend.

Jean Danley has been collecting Christmas ornaments every since she left her hometown of Fullerton for Lincoln in the early 1980s. She was the last of her siblings to leave home, and her mother wasted no time in passing on the family’s holiday memories.

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“It seemed like my mom kept sending me packages,” Danley said. “She would send me little packages and I would get something every few days for Christmas.”

More than 40 years later, Danley has amassed a treasure trove of Christmas decor and her home – at 14440 Heywood St. – will be featured for the second time on the Holiday Tour of Homes.

As one enters her late 1950s farmhouse, they are greeted by a cozy living room illuminated by natural light, lamps, and the glow of the Christmas tree. The entrance is filled to the brim with little trinkets everywhere and an unmistakable trend is starting to emerge: an abundance of snowmen. Some are plush, some begin to “melt” when a button is pressed, and some are stacked like a snowman totem pole. A sign reading ‘Snowman Collector’ rests on the ledge above a doorway.

Again, the inspiration comes from Danley’s mother.

“I don’t know if it was because I was born in December, but my mom started collecting them and she gave me a few every year,” said Danley. “So I just picked that up.”

SEASONAL GREETINGS: One of Jean Danley’s many snowmen stands surrounded by greenery on the house’s dining room table. Danley has been collecting snowmen since she started collecting Christmas ornaments in the early 1980s.

Sam Crisler, The Waverly News

One of the pluses of decorative snowmen, she said, is that they don’t need to be put away until after February, when winter begins to wind down.

Danley doesn’t have an official count of the number of snowmen in her collection, but she says it was even bigger before they moved into their current home. The house on Heywood is several hundred square feet smaller than the one she and her husband Harold lived in before moving to Waverly in 2013.

“I had to downsize because we had a huge house, so I gave a lot away,” she said. “I just couldn’t keep them all in one little house.”

She said she also made a conscious effort to maintain a minimalist mindset while decorating. She says she’s been to some holiday open houses where the decorations were messy instead of tastefully placed.

Still, Danley’s house is filled with Christmas trinkets that she thinks will make visitors feel homey. Other motifs include red and green pickups and holiday green.

“I hope people walk through it and think, ‘Ah, it’s beautiful,'” she said.

Danley handled most of the decorating, but she said she had some help from her sister-in-law, who chimed in with aesthetic feedback. And husband Harold had outdoor lighting, in addition to his main role: lugging bins from storage.

“He’ll set things up, I’ll say, ‘Go do this, go do that, run and get batteries,'” Danley said. “He can really help me with that.”

Harold said he was a little flabbergasted by neighbors teasing him for putting up Christmas lights right after Halloween. But he may have the last laugh now, as temperatures appear to have dropped into wintry territory for the foreseeable future.

The only downside to decorating early, he said, is the pesky squirrels that have yet to enter hibernation and have chewed through two beams of light along the backyard fence.

Danley said that in a normal year she wouldn’t hand out the Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, but she’s glad it’s done early.

“So yes, it’s a little early, but I’m happy because it’s done now and I can relax and enjoy it,” she said.

Plus, she knows it’s for a good cause: supporting the nonprofit Waverly Community Library. She said she missed the holiday tour in his COVID-induced absence.

“It’s always fun,” she said. “In years when I didn’t organize the tour, I invited my friends and we toured together.”

Tickets for the tour cost $10 and can be purchased before the event at the Waverly Community Library or online, where information is available on the library’s Facebook page. Tickets are also available on the day of the event at the Waverly Community Foundation Building.

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