Walking in a winter wonderland

Paying a visit to the home of Christine Woods-Henderson around Christmas time is like walking in a winter wonderland.

Woods-Henderson collects decorative Christmas trees, in sizes ranging from something as small as the tip of your finger to nearly 3 feet tall. Her forest of decorations, checking in at 196 trees this year, come in all different colors and are made out of every material imaginable. She has trees crafted from fabric, glass, seashells, leather, tin, metal, wood, ceramic and even plastic mini golf balls.

Woods-Henderson recalls her love of trees beginning at an early age.

“As a child, I always felt at one with nature. We lived in an area in New Jersey that had wooded places, and I loved sitting under trees,” she said.

Woods-Henderson developed her particular love for Christmas trees while admiring her mother’s collection of small Christmas candles started in the 1940s. Among the Santa, choir and angels candles, Woods-Henderson’s favorites were the trees.

When she got married, Woods-Henderson kept the tree candles to put into her own Christmas decorations. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, however, that she became serious about her collection.

Her collection was kicked off with a wooden tree hand carved by a German artist that her husband gave her for Christmas. Since then, she has both looked for and received interesting trees to add to her collection.

Woods-Henderson’s favorite part of setting up her decorations is sharing them with others. She and her husband often will have open houses and invite members of their church congregation to their home to see the trees.

“(Christmas is about) the incredible gift of God coming to us in the form of a baby in Jesus Christ being born,” she said. “This translates in the giving of myself to others.”

Woods-Henderson said she loved to watch others “go back” when they see her trees.

“They love it. It evokes for many people a lot of memories. They’ll start sharing stories of their own,” she said.

One piece of interest from the collection, and the favorite of Woods-Henderson, is a white, sparkling double tree made of heavy ceramic that her husband gave to her. The tree sits in the center of her mantle surrounded by Christmas lights and is the only tree in her collection to inhabit the same space year after year.

Though she has no definite plans of concluding her collecting, Woods-Henderson joked that it may be a good time to quit soon.

“If I get 200, I think I’ll probably stop,” she said with a laugh. “Four more unusual ones, then I’ll stop.”

If she continues, the next tree on her list would be something very unusual and on the smaller side.

Woods-Henderson’s hope for her collection is that it may continue to bring joy for others, even after she’s gone.

“When I eventually pass them on, I think I’d give them to someone who would really appreciate them, maybe a museum or historical society,” she said.

“They’re just so interesting, the artistry, it’s really a craft. I think I’d want to pass them on to someone who would really appreciate their artistry,” she added.