MIDDLE AMANA – Christmas in the Yoder house means tradition.
From the homemade stocking displayed on the staircase to the advent calendar displayed on the hall table, each holiday item in the house has a story – even the antler tree created earlier this month.
The tree sits in Bill and Kristie Yoder’s dining room. White Christmas lights wrap around a large wooden branch, which supports several antlers of varying sizes.
“We had a party recently and screwed them all in,” Kristie says with a laugh.
This was after Kristie and her sister-in-law chopped down the branch under the cover of darkness.
“We weren’t sure if it was OK,” she says.
It was and now there’s a new Christmas decoration – and a new story – to share every holiday season.
“There is a lot of nostalgia with everything,” Kristie says.
From unpacking the ornaments her children made when they were little to finding the perfect sport for her old wooden sled – which used to be her grandfather’s – Kristie says getting her house ready for Christmas is part of the joy that comes with the holidays. Even Bill and Kristie’s children – who range in from age 27 to 20 – have expectation when they visit home for the holidays.
“My son in Chicago, the big city man, called to make sure his stocking is on the staircase, hanging up on the reindeer holder,” Kristie laughs.
That’s his way of beginning the countdown to Christmas, she says.
This year, Bill and Kristie will share their family decorations, stories and traditions with the public. The Yoder house is one of six homes participating in the 2012 Amana Colonies Christmas Haus Tour.
Bill and Kristie’s home is a wood frame home built in 1863. Originally a family home, the house was the site of Marie’s Gift Shop for many years. In fact, the shop was owned by Kristie’s great-aunt.
The house was transformed into a duplex in the early 1980s and remained that way until Bill and Kristie bought it in 2009. The couple has since renovated the house back to a single family home. Kristie points to her husband and his construction company – Ramsey Creek Woodworks in Kalona – for bringing the couple’s vision to life. Now, she says, it’s time to share the years of work with the community.
“People have been coming over anyway, so we might as well open it up,” she laughs. “I can’t wait to hear the stories from people who walk through and learn how they remember the house.”
The Amana Colonies Christmas Haus Tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 4 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 2.
The tour benefits the Amana Arts Guild Heritage Program.
Tickets may be purchased at each individual home during the days of the tour or in advance from the Amana Visitors Center or the Amana Arts Guild. Tickets are $10; children under age 12 are admitted free.
For more information about the tour, visit www.amanaartsguild.com.