From the outside, the Marlinton residence of Wilbur and Linda Wright looks like any other house in the neighborhood. Once you enter, it’s a different story. The house is transformed into a Christmas wonderland with trees, snowmen, Santas and trains around every corner.
The Wrights, who are raising their grandchildren, Alivia and Austin, go above and beyond to make their home a celebration of the season.
“I’ve always loved Christmas,” Wilbur said. “Everything my wife and I do is for the kids. We just devoted our life to them. I like the decorations and presents for the kids, and the whole Christmas scene, but we’re Christians and we love the Nativity of Christ more than anything. We’re just lovers of Christmas and Christmas means Christ.”
Along with buying new Christmas ornaments and using homemade items, the Wrights shop yard sales. The display in their home is only part of what they have accrued over the years.
“We have a lot of stuff that we don’t even put out,” Wilbur said. “I don’t have enough house for all the trains I own. I have five running right now and one on a shelf on the wall.”
The living room is decorated with the traditional tree and decorations, and the walls are covered to add to the Christmas-theme.
“The bank was getting rid of some stuff one year and I said I’d keep it,” he said. “We just got it out this year and first we did this little wall and then I thought, ‘well let’s do over here,’ and we just kept going. A lot of our stuff I buy at yard sales and collect. Sometimes, like this Santa, it was thrown away. It was too pretty to go in the trash. So I kind of resurrected that, and save that stuff and fix it up.”
The couple also rescued a tree that someone got rid of several years ago.
The exterior of the house is decorated with lights. At night, it looks like a lit gingerbread house.
Eleven-year-old Alivia has been bitten by the decorating bug.
“She’s got her own little table in here and last year we got her a bigger tree,” Wilbur said. “She gets into it pretty good. She decorated her doll house.”
Eighteen-year-old Austin is autistic, but still enjoys Christmas, but doesn’t help as much with the decorating.
“Austin likes Christmas for Christmas morning because we always give him a lot of fishing stuff,” Wilbur said. “He’s an excellent fisherman. He can go anywhere and catch fish where other people would just waste their time. He’s just that good at it.”
Wilbur spends months transforming the house into a Christmas wonderland.
“I started back in October with the outside of the house because I have breathing problems,” he said. “I do a little bit and have to stop. I have COPD from smoking cigarettes. I took probably the full month of November and the biggest part of December to get everything we’ve got because I’m slow at everything.”
Wilbur isn’t going to let anything slow him down when it comes to celebrating Christmas. Despite his limitations, he is determined to show his spirit and love for the holiday.
“It won’t get any smaller,” he said. “It might get bigger. If I’m able and I’ve got the breath. I was telling my wife, when I lived back in the woods in a cabin by myself, I didn’t have electric or anything. I loved that life, but I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids. I put up a tree every year and did Christmas, but now I have a chance to do it fully, so I do.”
Wilbur’s love of Christmas grew with him from childhood, when he used to buy Christmas decorations for his mother.
“He told me he used to sell pop bottles to get money to buy his mother decorations for the Christmas tree when he was little,” Linda said. “He would make decorations for the tree, too.”
“I had an old green suitcase and each year I’d save that thing full [of ornaments] and give it to her a couple weeks before Christmas so she could decorate up the house,” Wilbur said. “I’ve just always been a lover of Christmas. Some people like it more than others, and I guess I’m just one that goes out all the way for Christmas.”
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org