A Tennessee couple didn't know what they were getting into when they decorated their first Christmas tree shortly after their marriage 53 years ago.
Now George "Buddy" Witherow and his wife Gloria spend months preparing for Christmas and what started with one small tree with pink metallic bulbs has grown into a forest of about 50 trees that spreads throughout their home in Smyrna.
"It's been a lifetime thing for my wife," George Witherow told ABC News of her passion for decorating.
Each year, the couple incorporates some new themes into the mix of trees and spends about two months setting up their winter wonderland before inviting guests to tour the trees starting in the beginning of November.
Copper cookie cutters and kitchen utensils decorate the copper tree, hanging cut glass adorns the chandelier tree, while a mix of crochet and doilie ornaments bring viewers back to a different era on the Victorian tree.
On the animal front, there’s the critter tree, a Noah’s Ark tree, a tree dedicated to the family’s love of moose, and a red bird tree.
The sports tree has a singing Bob Hope ornament and the Mardi Gras tree is made up of decorative masks collected from San Antonio and New Orleans.
One of the most creative, newer trees that has been attracting a lot of attention on the guided tours that they give friends and relatives is the "blue delft" tree that highlights the style of Netherlandish pottery with ornaments and a delft village placed beneath the tree. Rather than using a star or figurine to top that tree, Gloria Witherow decided to use white tulips to finish off the international look.
Travel has been a big part of the couple’s lives and that is reflected in their trees, from the shells that George turned into ornaments after a trip to Florida, or the masks collected in Louisiana and Texas that adorn the Mardi Gras tree. They even have a dedicated travel tree that has ornaments from every place they’ve visited during their more than half century together.
"They're all special," George Witherow said. "When you look at them, they kind of conjure up a story about when you visited there."
They used to use real trees when their now-grown children were living in the house but now, largely due to their age, the septuagenarians have opted to use only fake trees. It’s also easier in terms of storage, and Gloria keeps all of her decorations in a 12 by 16 foot shed in the back of their property.
Last year, 50 to 60 people viewed the trees and the Witherows plan to wait until after New Year’s Day to start the process of dismantling the displays.
"And I take my time doing it!" Gloria Witherow said.