Cindy Dick’s Santa Claus collection is a jolly sight.
Visitors to her North Strabane Township home are greeted by more than a thousand Santas – figurines, stuffed animals, animatronic toys, wall hangings and ornaments – between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“My mother-in-law gave me four tiny Santas,” said Dick, pointing to a row of half-inch sized St. Nicks. “My husband Steve got me one, then people just started getting them for me.”
Every time Dick gets a new Kris Kringle, she marks the name of the person who gave it to her and the date, so she can flip it over and see whom it’s from.
Steve and their three daughters, Emily, Megan and Abby, all contribute to her growing collection. Emily and Megan picked up unique Santas during travels abroad to Germany and France, and Megan, a student at the University of South Carolina, gave her mom a collegiate Santa.
Every room in the house contains at least a couple of Santas in various shapes and sizes. There are sports Santas, Christmas list-holding Santas, beach Santas, a bathtub-lounging Santa (which plays “Splish Splash”), Santa clocks, and Santa in a canoe with a moose, one of Dick’s favorites because it reminds her of the two years she and Steve lived in Anchorage, Alaska, when the pair first married.
She even has a patriotic Santa-themed bathroom and a revolving Christmas tree decorated with about 100 Santa ornaments.
All of the Santas throughout the house range in height from a half-inch to a few feet tall. There are Santas wearing every imaginable color and every conceivable Santa suit.
For Dick, who sports colorful Christmas shirts and pajamas throughout December, the magic of the Christmas season makes the holiday enjoyable.
“I love Christmas. Thanksgiving weekend, I start putting the Santas up. The girls and I bake a lot. I enjoy this time of year,” said Dick. “Come Dec. 26, it’s done. I only get to do it for a month. If this doesn’t get you into the spirit, nothing’s going to.”
Among her favorites are the Steelers Santas (she’s a big black-and-gold fan), her snow globes and a manger scene she purchased the year her father died.
“Emily was picked to be Mary at our church, and they brought her in on a donkey. At the very end, Santa Claus came walking down the aisle and bent down to the Nativity,” said Dick. “It made me think of my dad, and I ordered one for everybody in my family.”
Decorating her home with Santas takes some time, but it’s fun because with each Santa she takes out, Dick remembers the person who gave it to her and the special meaning behind it – like the Santa lounging in a hammock with a flamingo nearby, a gift from military friends they made more than two decades ago when Steve was stationed in Anchorage.
“People love to see the Santas,” said Dick, who doesn’t collect expensive St. Nicks. “When people stop by, everybody gives me their coats, hugs and kisses, and then they take off to look at the Santas. It’s nice.”