Deborah Ward, former newswoman and director of marketing at Omaha’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, saw her first seven-foot-tall Santa at a Sam’s Club about eight years ago. Though husband Joe Jordan, managing editor of NebraskaWatchdog.org, may have simply decided to go with the flow at the beginning, their larger-than-life collection of Christmas memorabilia is now the center of a family tradition in their Papillion home. Three Santas and a Mrs. Claus later, Deborah is on the lookout year round for the next piece of holiday magic that will make her sit up and take notice. “I won’t take home just anything,” she says with a laugh. “I’m a Santa snob.”
Deborah and Joe don’t quite know what they’ll add to their collection next. “I’ll know it when I see it,” Deborah says. “It’s got to have a certain sparkle, you know. It’s got to be larger than life.” Space isn’t a concern just yet. “We have room,” she says, though Joe might shake his head. It helps to have a spacious basement too. That’s where all the Santas live for the other 11 months out of the year.
Deborah and Joe have three larger-than-life Santa statues dotted around their home from the day after Thanksgiving to the day after Christmas. Deborah’s favorite Santa is this one with the curly beard and pocket watch.
Entertaining is a huge part of the holidays, Deborah says. The family hosts Christmas Eve at their Papillion home, so of course the kitchen, home to sweets and country-sliced ham, has to match the theme as well as the rest of the house.