Pennye West’s collection of St. Nick-themed decorations just keeps getting bigger and bigger

By PATTI SELLS | News-Telegram Feature Writer

Dec. 16, 2007 - Kids aren't the only ones who love Santa. Pennye West admits to  an ongoing affection and attachment to the jolly old elf, made evident by her collection of more than 500 Santa Claus decorations throughout her Yantis home.

Staff Photo by Patti Sells

Pennye West will likely pass on her love for Santa to her great-niece, 11-month-old Avery, pictured here with West at her Yantis home, which is adorned with more than 500 various Santa Claus decorations.

"My love for Santa just kind of grew from my childhood,"  said West, a licensed professional counselor specializing in children's therapy, who recalls many happy memories while growing up, especially at Christmas time. "We always opened presents on Christmas Eve and then drove around to look at Christmas lights. When we'd get home, Santa had come! 

"My love for him just kind of grew from that and hung on," she added.

Every room in West's log cabin home is adorned with decorations of Old St. Nick. Rugs, towels, toilet seat covers, pillows, bedding, figurines and novelties of all sorts, such as a bathing Santa situated in an old metal bathtub with "cotton" bubbles on the front porch.

Her collection dates back to the 1930s and continues through every era since.

"The old ones are probably my favorite since I love antiques," West said.

West has Santas made of white heavy chalk, corn husk, wood, plastic, stuffing, glass and even rubber. There's a Santa-painted ironing board, music boxes and Santa mugs, which were popular a half-century ago.

Some of the decorations from the 1950s look kind of mean.

"I call this one 'Chucky Santa,'" she said referring to the killer doll from the 1988 cult horror movie "Child's Play."

West said she started collecting Santa ornaments about 10 years ago and now decorates her tree each year solely withSanta ornaments.

"I buy one each year and date it," said West, who also collects them while on vacation. "I get them whereever I go."

She and her husband, Bo, have brought them from several places in Europe, as well as a set of "nesting" Santas from Russia, but most of her collection comes from right here in the United States.

�She also gets them from friends who give them as gifts throughout the year and on on her birthday � October 31.

"I'm the only person I know who gets Santas on Halloween," she said with a chuckle. 

Among of her favorites are Coca-Cola Santas and a 12-square quilt that was given to her depicting a Santa for each month.

"There's fishing Santa, Fourth of July Santa, teaching Santa, gardening Santa, a turkey with Santa and here he is with pumpkins and a black cat-I guess he doesn't need a costume," she laughed. "He just brings me such joy in the spirit of the season."

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