Terry is the oldest of six children, three of whom live in the tri-state area and gather with their families — she has four now-adult children — and some cousins at her Redding home every Christmas. She bought her 1949 Colonial on 13-plus acres in 1997 because she loved the land. “The house was a mess,” she recalls, “the roof and ceilings were shot, but I could see the potential.” Today, the 3,344-square-foot house has been fully renovated and has a good flow for entertaining.
“It’s good to have enough space for everyone, their children and grandchildren,” she said, noting the number of potential guests increased with remarriage three years ago to Russ, who has three adult children. “It is a joyful time.”
The focus for the Christmas gatherings is the spacious, light-filled living room with fireplace, where the family stockings are hung on the mantel, and the open-plan kitchen. In a recent renovation and update that reflects the more casual approach to entertaining today, the wall between the kitchen and formal dining room was removed.
Keeping up tradition
Holiday preparations begin with a trip to Slady’s Tree Farm in Easton, where one of her children picks the tree and another cuts it. The tree is placed in the corner of the room nearest the fireplace.
When decorating the tree, the first decision is multicolor or white lights. “We did multicolor lights for a long time, but have gone with white lights the last few years. But there is no question when it comes to the ornaments,” Terry says. While the tree holds a combination of old — including kid crafts — and new, “all of the old itty-bitty ones have to be there.” Those ornaments originally decorated a cactus that long ago ceased to be part of the holiday décor.
Terry adds, “The stockings that hang on the fireplace are also old — falling apart and patched together in some cases, but the kids won’t let me replace them.”
A crèche is also set up and carries a particular sentimentality for Terry: “It was the last gift my mother gave me before she died suddenly at a young age.” On a lighter note she adds, “It is displayed earless donkey and all — no one ever fessed up to breaking it, but the kids played with it when they were young.”
One of Terry’s brothers lives in Colorado and his annual gift of L.L. Bean’s Breakfast Set with its blueberry pancakes is served to her children Christmas morning. If weather permits, the guests like to take a walk in nearby Huntington Park, and Christmas dinner is served about 3 p.m.
When it comes to playing holiday music at the family gatherings, “One of the traditions is to not let me select it,” she says with a laugh. “I grew up in Texas and like cowboy-country type songs, but everyone else likes the more traditional carols and music.”
This year could be the last Christmas for the family in the Sunset Hill Road house; with her youngest son set to head off to college next fall, Terry and Russ plan to move to something better suited to their new life situation. For information on the house, visit raveis.com/mls/99113974/44sunsethillroad_redding_ct.