Festival of Trees

L to R: JoAnn Jacobsen, Annie Johnson (visitor), Tom Jacobsen

Twas a collection of Christmas spread all through the rooms. Not a nook was naked, nor any space left nude!

Tom and Joann Jacobsen recently held their traditional festival of trees at their home in Hettinger. The process, of which, began about six weeks ago when the decorating began. Joann, who has been collecting Christmas trees for nearly half a century, meticulously decorated a staggering 45 trees, all of which are inside their house. Every tree is lovingly decked out with specific ornaments and lights that gives each tree its very own personality and theme. Whether you dream of holiday cowboys with well-groomed mustaches riding their valiant steeds into a twinkling sunset, or are more keen to the underrated-yet gorgeous- peacock, splaying its colors in full splendor in the company of St.Nick himself, or perhaps you’re more of a traditional type who believes no Christmas is complete without a plethora of snowmen, gingerbread houses, and nutcrackers…be not afraid, the Jacobsens bring you great joy as there is truly something here for everyone! Everywhere you look, you are greeted by the inviting gleam of Christmas lights.

As I said before, there’s 45 trees-an approximation by Tom Jacobsen himself. That’s not counting all the mini-trees that line the bookshelves, display cases, end tables, or even the tiny Christmas villages. Notice that’s plural. If the tiny people who lived in the tiny villages wished to send holiday greeting cards to each other they would have to be assigned multiple zip codes. And just like the trees, the villages are generously garnished with snow and warm lights that make you feel as if you could step right inside, feel cozy, warm your tootsies by the fire, and help yourself to a bowl of figgy pudding with a tall glass of eggnog…or coco…whatever you like, like I said, there is something for everyone! When admiring the decorations, it was best to look at everything at least twice as the first time around I would miss something. The attention to detail in the color coordinating, the specific ornaments that would go on specific trees, and the placement of the trees in general that didn’t make the house feel cluttered was absolutely astonishing.

This all may sound silly, but I’m doing my best to paint a picture of what it was like to experience the Jacobsen’s festival of trees. Words, even pictures, really don’t do it justice. JoAnn has done an impeccable job, spending countless hours on each individual tree. You can literally see her love of this wonderful holiday come alive and manifest into something very, very special. The light-up villages have a life of their own, as do the individual nativity scenes that compliment several trees. JoAnn informed me that the festival of trees really started as a tradition in their house in 1992. Year after year, the collection would get bigger and bigger. However ten years ago, JoAnn took a break from the tradition when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Taking the tour, I would have never guessed she had, as her collection shines very bright, as does her spirit. She even has a tree constructed that was inspired by her journey with breast cancer, showing that you really can take something so painful and ugly and turn it into something beautiful. The number one thing I took from the Jacobsen’s festival of trees was passion. With all the charm, the attention to detail, and the years of dedication, you can literally see the passion all throughout the house that the Jacobsen’s have put on display, to share with their friends, family, and the world. To see that passion bring smiles to faces and bring people together is an inspiring thing to see.

I even got to witness a real Christmas miracle take place while I was on the tour- three cats and not one of them touched a tree.