Maree Tanswell fits right into the magical Christmas scene where she stands next to an elf with a giant 10-foot Santa towering over them keeping an eye on his sleigh and reindeer and all the other elves adding to the entrancing scene in her garden in Molong street.
“I just love the spirit of Christmas, ever since I was a child.” Maree’s fascination with Christmas took her all the way to Finland five years ago to cross the Arctic Circle and visit the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi in Lapland where she met the ‘real’ Santa Claus.
“He reinforced everything I believed in,” said Maree pointing to her prized photo with Santa, which has a special place in her house every Christmas. “He did an exceptional job. I heard him speak six languages and he even knew where Parkes was!
Visiting that village where you could see Santa’s sleigh, feed the reindeer, send your Christmas letters and of course shop to your heart’s content, was the highlight of my fascination with Christmas.”
The impression lasted and when Maree saw a giant Santa in a shop in Newcastle last year, she just had to buy it. Luckily for her, the Santa can collapse, “but he still filled up my whole car!”
Santa needs elves, and this year Maree travelled to the famous Bredbo Christmas Barn north of Cooma where she found a beautiful set of elves. “I had to get the whole set, as their faces change every year! The owners of the Bredbo shop travel all over the world to get their supplies.” She also added the sleigh and reindeer to her ever-growing collection this year.
She used to put up lights on the farm, but when they moved to Parkes four years ago, Maree saw her chance to get creative. Her collection has grown so much that she had to add a shipping container in the backyard for storage.
During the year Maree takes time to visit Christmas shops around the state on her quest to find unique items that appeal to her. This means the enchanting scene in her garden spills over into the house where the magic continues. The Christmas tree, mostly decorated with beautiful flowers, takes prime position in front of the window, specifically designed for display when the house was built.
“I will just carry on as I still have eight grandchildren with another on the way!” Children make Christmas special for Maree. “I’ve been very privileged to always have children around for Christmas, from my own children to my grandchildren.”
This year they will all be at her house to dress up on Christmas eve and spread some cheer to all the people driving past. She said many people have come past already and that brings a smile to her face knowing she can share the magic.
For Maree the secret of an enjoyable Christmas is to get organised early. “I find Christmas very peaceful and calming. I love having my family around, the Christmas carols and all the hustle and bustle.”
By Maggi Barnard