Too many to count: Eudora couple have 64-year collection of Christmas ornaments, figurines and decor

photo by: Mike Yoder

Santa Claus figurines dressed as doctors, miners, fishermen and other characters are grouped together on a dining room cabinet in the home of Chris and Jess Appodaca.

Chris Appodaca received her first Christmas decoration at the age of 3. Now, 64 years later, she has too many to count.

There’s the line of vintage cookie tins above the kitchen cabinets and the cookie jars above the kitchen windows. There’s the case of Santa milk jugs and mugs in the dining room and the handmade quilts on the walls. On her grandmother’s old stove rests hundreds of Santa figurines.

Appodaca estimates they have around 3,000 Christmas figurines, ornaments and decorations. Her husband, Jess Appodaca, says it’s more like 4,000.

“I tried to count them one time and gave up,” he said.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Chris, left, and Jess Appodaca are pictured in their Eudora home on Dec. 16 with part of their collection of Santa figurines and decorations behind them. Chris holds the couple’s dog, Itty-Bitty.

Entering the Appodaca household between the months of November and January is like stepping into a Christmas-themed antique store, with thousands of decorations on all available surfaces.

Any other time of the year, they assure, the house looks quite ordinary.

Chris, who is the mother of Eudora mayor Tim Reazin, said her fascination with the decorations was cultivated from a young age. She grew up in a working class family in Lindsborg, and though she didn’t always receive a lot of Christmas gifts, her mom would always get her an ornament or some type of Christmas decoration. Over the years, her assemblage grew, and Chris began shopping for more on her travels.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A dining table set for a Christmas meal is surrounded by a room full of some of Chris and Jess Appodaca’s collection of Santa figurines and decorations. Chris says she starts decorating with their Santa collection as early as Halloween. The Appodacas live in Eudora’s Prairie Estates neighborhood.

There was a lot to take in as she and Jess showed the Journal-World around their home in Eudora’s Prairie Estates neighborhood recently. But while Chris is a collector, she’s not a hoarder, she said. The Appodaca home and its extreme Christmas decorations are well-organized.

“This is three generations of ornaments on this tree,” Chris said of a large Christmas tree in the couple’s living room that had hundreds of ornaments passed down from Chris’ mother and grandmother, as well as her own collection.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Two Christmas trees, a chair full of Christmas stockings and Santa wall hangings decorate the Appodacas’ living room in their Eudora home.

Many of Chris’ trees are distinguished by type of ornament. On another, smaller tree in the kitchen are ornaments that have been given to Chris by friends. In an additional tree in the living room are all of Chris’ ornaments made by the late wood carver Peter Engler. And in the basement — yes, there’s another whole floor — there’s a Barbie-themed tree, a hunting-themed tree and a tree filled with Swedish ornaments.

There’s also a section of the basement with undecorated trees, to give that section more of a “woodsy” feel, Chris said.

As for the figurines, Chris has those separated as well. One group of small figurines Chris calls the “tinies.” Those decorate a small stand-alone cabinet in the kitchen. Another group, in the dining room, are Santas who are dressed up in the clothes of specific professions, like doctors, miners and fishermen.

This year, it took Chris and Jess about a month to put all the decorations up. They started around Halloween.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Chris and Jess Appodaca estimate they have over 3,000 Santa figurines in their Christmas collection.

The Appodacas store their Christmas items in large storage areas in their basement. Each year, there are extra things they aren’t able to put up. Up until 2016, they lived in a larger house in Salina, and their Eudora decorations are “not even close to what we did (there),” Chris said.

The storage areas are also large enough to hold the couple’s furniture. When the holidays come around each year, they switch out their pieces so that they can have red and green chairs in the living room to match the decor.

When asked about her favorite decorations, Chris compared it to having to choose a favorite child. But she did say she especially likes her Santa cookie jars, because it’s hard to find those in good condition. Chris is also a fan of Hallmark’s Christmas figurines and has been collecting certain items — such as their Barbies and football players — for over 25 years.

photo by: Mike Yoder

The Appodacas’ Christmas collection also includes a wide assortment of tree ornaments like this one of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as well as other professional sport figures to attract the interest of their grandchildren.

Chris said she planned to give some of her decorations to her son and four grandsons, but she and Reazin have also considered creating some kind of Christmas museum.

Even though Chris has thousands of decorations, when she takes them out she remembers each one, she said. And if she drops one?

“I cry,” she said, without hesitation.

It’s hard for Chris to remember exactly where some specific figurines are after she puts them out, but she had no difficulty finding the special figurine her grandmother gave her all those years ago.

It all started with a small Santa candle that Chris keeps in the center of a group of Santa figurines on an old stove in the kitchen. The 64-year-old candle is now faded, but if you turn it over, the original price tag is still there — a 39-cent gift that inspired a lifetime collection.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A large collection of Santa cookie jars line a high shelf in the couple’s kitchen.

photo by: Mike Yoder

An antique glass display case contains a collection of the Appodacas’ ceramic Santa mugs and figurines.

photo by: Mike Yoder

One of several Old World Christmas glass light ornaments from Germany decorates a dining room cabinet in the Appodacas’ home.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A Santa ceramic centerpiece rests on the couple’s dining table ready for a Christmas meal.

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