A whole lotta Santas | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A whole lotta Santas

Looking for the spirit of Christmas. You’ll find it on Charles Avenue in South Lake Tahoe.

There, amid the Tahoe winter wonderland, Annie Mullen is busy stacking every inch of her house with Santa Clauses of all assortments, sizes and shapes while her granddaughter sits engrossed in black-and-white Christmas movies.

“I believe in Santa Claus,” Mullen said, pointing to her one of her Santa Claus pillows that says, “I believe in Santa Claus.” “It’s the only time of the year people are kinder and help each other.”

Not only does Mullen believe in Santa Claus, she absolutely adores the portly Christmas principal.

Mullen said her mother collected Santa replicas when Mullen was a child. Now she has taken over the tradition. She estimates she has well over 500 Santas.

What kinds of Santa decor will one find in Mullen’s house?

Santa music boxes, Santa slippers, Mr. and Mrs. Claus in bed and snoring, Santa lights, Santa wreaths, porcelain Santas, Santas made with parachute material, antique Santas, homemade Santas, Santa towels, Santa cups, Santa napkins, Santa puppets, a Santa table cloth to sit under her bird cage, and Santa picture holders, just to name a few.

Mullen begins putting the Santa decorations up after each Thanksgiving. By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, she said they all have a place to sit.

As of Dec. 22, she still had more Santas in need of a small chunk of mantle or sill space. Mullen said when she runs out of space, she rearranges what’s already there to make room for the rest.

When friends show up with Christmas gifts for Mullen, she said she usually knows what she’s going to get … Santas.

“I’m sure there are lots under the tree,” she said. “Everyone’s trying to get me to open them early, but I won’t.”

Speaking of the tree, it is decorated only with Santa ornaments. What else?

This year Mullen made Santa stockings and decorated Santa plates. She also makes her own gift packages for friends and family, stocked with homemade goodies.

And with what does she wrap her presents?

“Nothing but Santa Claus wrapping paper,” she said. Of course.

While a couple of antique ornaments from the 1800s may be the most impressive in the vast Santa collection, Mullen said her favorite is her first Santa.

She said when she was a child, a service group donated a basket to her one Christmas. In the basket was a small stuffed Santa doll with a bag of presents strewn over his back. While the 1940s doll doesn’t look as young as it used to, it still occupies prime Santa territory in the doorway between the front room and kitchen.

“What can I say, I just happen to love Santas,” Mullen said, promising the decorations won’t be taken down until at least Jan. 4.

Mullen said she will take unwanted Santa memorabilia from anyone who would give it away. Her house is the one on Charles Avenue with all the Santas in the windows. You can’t miss it.

Claus, age unknown, lives in the North Pole. Other than Christmastime, he appears to lead a quiet life. Each year on Christmas Eve, Claus straps his flying reindeer to his magic sleigh and delivers presents to the children of the world.

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