Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Features

December 20, 2012

Louisville woman displays 5 dozen Christmas trees

LOUISVILLE — Jackie Ruholl decorates 60 Christmas trees every year.

  Not six. Not 16. And each one of them is special.

  "They're never the same," Ruholl said. "Never ever the same. I probably have close to 150 trees, all total."

  It's a collection of Yuletide paraphernalia that's taken more than 35 years to gather and it hasn't slowed. Ruholl said she bought a tree last week, and she's always acquiring new ornaments.

As Ruholl  would say, "the Christmas bug bit" her as a child in her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. She said she would go downtown with her family during the holidays and look in all the storefront windows.

"They were all decorated so amazingly," she said.

From then on, she said when she was at a place she could begin collecting, she would. Only one tree remains constant: one decorated in 1950's-era workshop elves, busily readying things for Christmas. One covered in gingerbread men that look good enough to eat. One covered in surprisingly festive frogs. And, of course, 57 other different, immaculate designs.

Decades later, it's become a family affair. Her daughter, who now lives near Fredericksburg, Va., has her own Christmas collection and Ruholl's husband, Alan, comes up with ideas and helps decorate.

It's a process that begins in October and takes two months, but the work doesn't stop when the baubles and bells are packed back up. Family members, friends and even auctioneers Ruholl has met all call her when they see something they think she might like. She said she always encourages them to pick it up, and she does the same for others.

All the handiwork isn't for the family alone, though. Between Christmas walk-throughs sponsored by local Rotary clubs and gatherings of friends, Ruholl said between 400 and 500 people walk through her forest of Christmas trees each holiday season.

"We just want to share it," she said. "It's about seeing friends you haven't seen in a while."

Ruholl collection and showmanship isn't just Yuletide-exclusive. When a friend purchased Thelma Keller's house, she asked if Ruholl wanted the 1950s era original kitchen, from cabinets to the stove and refrigerator. The kitchen is set up in the Ruholl's barn, built by Alan to display the historical pieces, as well as store all the other antiques and Christmas trees.

There's also a mock storefront set up in the style of a classic general store, with antique wood from the barn and one-room schoolhouse that stood on the property when the Ruholl's bought it.

Like the house, people come every year to explore the kitchen.

"The biggest thing for me is watching people's faces when they go through," she said.

Though she decorates for every holiday, from Easter to Flag Day, Ruholl said Christmas is her favorite.

"I think it's just a great time for family," she said. "For me, it's just about bringing everybody together."

Next year, she said, she and her husband are planning a full, life-size nativity scene for their yard, complete with camels. As for the house, she said some days she thinks she's getting too old for all the work involved. But, inevitably, people ask her whether she's decorating again and asking what the theme will be and when they can come see it. For that reason, she said she doesn't want to stop.

"I just want people to enjoy it," she said.

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 17, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 10, 2014

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.