A Winter Wonderland

“Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right in your front window…” Christmas traditions are created every year around the world, but at Alden and Tammy Daniels’ home in Red Oak, the best ones remain the same. With a waving, smiling, cookie-eating Santa in the front window and unique ornaments hanging from several trees in the house, the family keeps tradition alive and well, even when there isn’t snow on the ground.

NECDec15HOME_Page_03_Image_0002 Nestled in the Harmony subdivision, Alden and Tammy enjoy gorgeous views from their front windows, no matter the season. Looking onto a greenbelt area with plenty of trees, the 3,600-square-foot, two-story brick home is already a postcard spot in the neighborhood. When Christmastime comes around, however, Alden and Tammy put on a show, with the jolly old elf as the main attraction. Using a special projector in the front office window, it appears that Santa is right inside. “Kids drive by with their parents and think he lives here,” Tammy said.

“They’ll stop and wave back at him. I love that.” This is the third year for the digital Santa, who also drinks milk and eats cookies. The front of the home is accented with stone on an archway leading to the glass front door, which is flanked by two life-sized nutcracker soldiers during the holidays.

Thanks to hard work by Alden, the landscape beds are also framed by stone, with benches on the porch. Once inside, an office is on the left, with an antique desk the couple has had for 28 years of their 34-year marriage. “Before we had kids, we loved to go antique shopping,” Tammy explained, and she cited the desk as their proudest purchase. The couple also purchased chandeliers for the entryway, office and for above the pool table and installed each one. “We’d go shopping, get one for a good price and then store it,” Tammy chuckled. “We’d always say, ‘We’ll use it one day.’” Just to the right of the foyer is a sitting area with antique couches and a beverage cart. The space also serves as host to another of the family’s Christmas trees.

The tree is pink with poinsettia flowers painted pink and a variety of white ornaments and small, white bears. “The pink tree was for my husband,” Tammy said, “because that was something he always wanted. I usually change the colors on the trees, but the main one is always red and white.” The tree is encircled by a toy train, sometimes on the floor and sometimes around the tree in the middle. Thirteen-year-old September is the couple’s youngest daughter. Her artwork and family pictures are also on display.

NECDec15HOME_Page_03_Image_0003Opposite of the sitting area is a pool table where Tammy places her 1800s-style winter village, complete with people and benches, some of which was formerly Christmas village furniture. For 30 years, she has collected people and pieces, including an ice skating rink, Santa and even a Wal-Mart. Tammy also had September draw a winter wonderland to serve as the backdrop for the village.

The display is one of Tammy’s favorite Christmas traditions, because, “I like it for me. I like to sit and watch it for my personal enjoyment.” The Danielses’ open-concept home, designed from a First Texas model seven years ago, provides a two-story vaulted ceiling in the living room. With an 8-foot-tall armoire, the love of antiques continues, with leather couches and an ornate TV stand and coffee table.

The fireplace has Christmas light strands inside to give the look of a fire, and the mantel has stockings for all family members, including their 4-year-old dog, Madeline. Placed prominently on the wall coming from the foyer is a 5-foot-6-inch tall photo on canvas of the couple, a 30th anniversary present from Alden. “My husband, he likes everything big,” Tammy said with a smile. “It’s a picture of us pre-children, when we were at the Majestic Theater seeing a play.”

The living room flows right into the kitchen, which also gets decorated, with an eating area to complete it. Tammy loves to cook and will serve up all the traditional foods at Christmas, with ham, turkey, brisket, dressing, yams and greens, along with desserts made by the kids. The first floor is also home to the master bedroom, which is filled with antique furniture. “My husband loves antiques,” Tammy said. “The traditional, dark wood, we have that in the sitting area and the bedroom.” The king-sized bed has an ornate carved headboard, complete with claw feet.

NECDec15HOME_Page_03_Image_0002There are Christmas decorations in that room as well, and Tammy said she includes the bathrooms, although she changes her mind annually about what she’ll use. “I’ll decorate the whole house, inside and out,” she said. Walking up the stairs, the banister is covered in garland and lights, and the railing on the loft area is also decorated. The cozy space includes two couches and built-ins, with family memories covering the shelves, from drawings by September and pictures through the years to knickknacks with sentimental meaning. A Christmas tree stands in the window, with another smaller tree in September’s bedroom. During the rest of the year, the loft has a keyboard for oldest daughter, Brittney, and a drum set for Alden.

There are two bedrooms connected by a bath on one side of the loft, with another bedroom and bath on the other side. One of the showpieces of the home is a media room, complete with stereo surround sound and a 120-inch screen. Alden built two platforms for the sofa and media chairs in the room to give an authentic theater feel.

Tammy reflected on the layout of the home and said with a smile, “I think our house is more for our children. They’re getting older, and it’s nice to keep the girls close.” Tammy was a big decorator for Christmas even before children came along. September is in middle school and Brittney, age 23, is a medical student at UT-Southwestern. Brittney discovered a new enzyme during a summer internship at Duke University last summer, and she is now on the chemistry wall there. Her children influence the decorating now, as Tammy said this year will have more animated items.

“The kids love the moving stuff,” she said. “I always have my nutcrackers, Santa Claus, dogs, village and gift boxes. Then there’s the stuff outside that moves — Santa Claus, snowmen, reindeer and elves.” Her inspiration is centered on and around  the season. “It makes people happy,”  she said. “There’s enough anger in the world. In general, people seem to be nicer at Christmastime.”

Written by Melissa Swedoski.