WEST LAFAYETTE Whether you are ready for the holidays, or not, Sandy DOstrophs home in West Lafayette definitely gets the message out to her visitors that Christmas is on its way! At last count, DOstroph said she had 17 Christmas trees this year and estimates that she has about 6,000 lights and 3,000 ornaments.
DOstroph said she thoroughly enjoys Christmas and looks forward to her yearly decorating task, adding that it normally takes her about two weeks to get it completed. She said she doesnt feel that it is a chore by any means.
She has been collecting Christmas decorations for almost 50 years now and still has some Christmas decorations from her childhood 70-plus years ago. She recalls that some of her childhood Christmas decorations were purchased at the former JJ Newberry Store that was a popular five and dime type store that had been located in Coshocton for many years. The store is long gone, but DOstroph has her memories of all the different types of decorations that could be purchased back then.
Many of DOstrophs most prized Christmas decorations are some that had belonged to her parents and grandparents. One item is a goose feather tree that was found in her mothers attic about 25 years ago, and had belonged to her maternal grandmother before that. She estimates that tree is over 100-plus years old. The tree is uniquely made with actual goose feathers that are stripped from the quill of the feather and wrapped around a piece of heavy wire (to create each branch). The feathers are sometimes dyed various colors. The feather trees are of German origin, brought to the United States in the nineteenth century by German ancestors.
DOstroph is also an artisian (painter, needleworker, crafter) and has created some of her Christmas decorations as well. A nativity set in her display was made by DOstroph 47 years ago has been on display in several city (San Diego, Calif, Portland, Ore., and Honolulu, Hawaii) churches, and other Christmas exhibits. The nativity is constructed via a dip-n-drip method using a styrofoam cone, white glue, nylon hose, cotton material, and burlap. Each piece of the nativity seems to have its own character through DOstrophs tedious hand crafting. She said some of the extreme detail required use of dental tools.
DOstrophs trees consist of specific themes, one is a collectors ornament tree consisting of many vintage, as well as Christopher Radko creations, many of which were limited editions. The tree is about seventy years old, and the needles on the branches are made of extremely fine spun glass threads. Another tree is a memory tree which is loaded with all types of ornaments that signify specific memories of DOstrophs life, another tree is covered with ornaments from all over the world, even one from the Vatican! More of DOstrophs amazing talent is showcased in another Christmas tree, the Fairy God Mother of Christmas. The impressive sized tree was created by DOstroph about 15 years ago and was featured in the Festival of Trees display in Coshocton.
DOstroph said each of her Christmas decorations she has purchased or made spoke to her heart.
I dont just buy any type of ornaments or decorations, she said. They have to speak to me and have a purpose or special meaning to me.
While she has many, many ornaments to admire, she said there are several basic plastic angels that are placed on her world ornament tree each year that she values very much. She said her children purchased them for her at a five and dime store years ago when they were very young. She said those ornaments are probably her most prized ornaments of all because they were given from the heart, and in the eyes of a child were the most beautiful ornaments in the world.