LEXINGTON — If the Grinch stole Christmas, he’s storing it at Jeannie Harrison’s house.
An explosion of Christmas cheer, Harrison has 175 Christmas trees hidden among her floor-to-ceiling holiday decorations.
Her elaborate Christmas display extends to every room of the 3,000-square-foot house — the bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedroom, even the garage.
“We have six or seven trees in the foyer. They’re just scattered around. It’s like a Christmas store,” said Harrison, dressed in a Mrs. Claus dress, matching boots and Santa earrings. “It takes me an hour to turn the lights on and an hour to turn them all off every day.”
The 175 trees — which range in size from 6 inches to 7 feet — are largely outfitted in all things Christmas with a few thematic trees, like a Mardi Gras tree, a sock monkey tree, a Raggedy Ann tree and a tree with hot peppers.
Nothing in Harrison’s house is untouched by Christmas, with decorations in the bath tub, on the dinner table, under desks, constant Christmas movies playing on her TVs and the smell of cinnamon wafting through the air. Even a world globe in their living room is obscured in poinsettias.
Her husband, Robbie, has seen his man cave converted into a Christmas wonderland with an electric train, a Santa hat on the deer mount and a Christmas tea party with Santa and teddy bears at the covered poker table.
“It’s hard to live here during the month of December,” Harrison, 69, said. “We’re pretty much standing up eating dinner at the sink.”
It takes Harrison, who is retired, a full two months of decorating around the clock to bring the spectacle to life.
As September ends, Harrison begins taking her array of decorations out of their upstairs storage room to get them all set up by December.
The spare bedroom stays Christmas-filled all year in honor of her late mother, she said.
“I decorate six days a week from 7 in the morning until 11 at night,” Harrison said. “Getting to decorate the house, I’m like a little kid at Christmas opening presents.”
After the display is completed Dec. 1, Harrison opens her house, on Jerusalem Road in Lexington, up to the community through mid-January for tours, but people must call ahead to book.
While the 45-minute tour of her Christmas display is free, Harrison asks visitors to bring one canned food donation for the local food pantry.
Harrison said she usually prefers to do tours after 5:30 p.m. so guests can see the magic of the trees all lit up at night.
After the tour, visitors are invited to have some apple cider, hot chocolate, fruit cake and other holiday treats in Harrison’s fully-decorated and heated garage.
Some of her visitors make a game out of trying to find the seven Charlie Brown trees hidden throughout her house.
“I love seeing the enthusiasm and smiles on people’s faces,” Harrison said.
“When you try to tell someone about this, it’s like ‘OK, she has Christmas trees,’ but there’s no way you could ever imagine this.”
Harrison’s house also features 19 extensive Nativity scenes, composed of more than 500 Fontanini figurines, which were handmade in Italy.
Harrison began collecting the figurines in 1987 and sets them up to reflect certain scenes in the Bible, she said.
Her husband built four 12-foot stages to showcase all the Nativity scenes in one of the upstairs rooms amid lit-up palm trees.
“My husband said I can have anything I want, as long as I know where to put it and where to store it afterwards,” she said.
Aside from the Fontanini figurines, Harrison buys most of her Christmas decorations at thrift and consignment stores and yard sales throughout the year.
Harrison’s twin sister, Janice Ward, helps her with all the shopping and gets her a new decoration for her house each Christmas — from wise man’s camels to tree ornaments.
The two have always been close, Harrison said, and had a double wedding with identical wedding dresses in 1967 after getting engaged on the same night with identical rings and later honeymooning together.
They now live within walking distance and see or talk to each other four times a day — often to discuss Christmas-decorating plans this time of year.
“Me and my twin, we’re great at finding all the deals,” she said. “People get rid of their junk and I get my treasures.”
When Harrison and her husband moved to Lexington from High Rock Lake, she decided to go all-out decorating their new house and eventually had an electrician install extra breakers to accommodate all the lights.
Her husband of 51 years accepted it as long as he didn’t have to help with the decorating, she said, and they’ve been showing their decorated house off to the community since 2011.
With a myriad of stockings, animated 4-foot tall Santas, fake snow and glittering snowflakes, Harrison said she looks forward to it every year.
“I just love, love, love Christmas and seeing all the excitement,” she said. “They call me the Christmas Tree Lady.”