ANSONIA—Nathan and Jerica (Thwaits) Stafford of Ansonia share the love of Christmas (and other holidays) and show it quite often.
Once again, they outdid themselves when they put up their Christmas decorations on East Canal Street.
The couple has lived here for five years and started out small. Since then, they have added to their collection, either by purchasing, inheriting or receiving as gifts from well-wishers.
“My grandparents, Ron and Patty Thwaits, used to do a lot of decorating but quit and gave us a snowman and a five-foot Santa sleigh and reindeer,” Jerica said. “Everybody loves it. Grandma used to love to decorate. It runs in our blood.”
The Staffords inherited a Santa and Mrs. Claus and a nativity shelter from the family of the late Norma Gard, whose property at State Route 47 and 49 was always decorated, thanks to her son, Ron Gard.
“I heard they were selling the place, and I called him,” Jerica said. “He gave us those things.”
Nathan and Jerica decorate inside their home as well, having put up their gingerbread theme, starting two years ago.
The two of them do the decorating with the help of her brother, Jarvis Thwaits, who lives across the street.
“We decorate for Easter, Halloween, the Fourth of July but Christmas is the biggest,” she said.
When asked where they keep all of this, they responded that it goes in their basement and garage.
The couple does do some traveling when planning their next Christmases, especially looking for blow molds. They’ve been to Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana.
Blow molds they have were given to them by someone who was throwing them away but gave them to the Staffords to use instead.
The Staffords usually play music at their home during the Ansonia Christmas Parade but may even add it to their own Christmas set-up nightly in the future.
On the night of the parade, her family usually comes over to their house to watch the parade.
“Dad dresses up as Santa and hands out candy canes,” she said. “He will probably do it again this year this coming Saturday (Dec. 3).”
They start decorating on Nov. 1.
New this year is the Grinch theme and the lights on the roof.
Next year, they are trying to do a project outside in the driveway with her brother’s help.
In addition to the colorful display of yuletide decoration in the side and front yards, they have three areas in the back of the house with different themes, one of which is a candyland.
Does this affect their electric bill?
“We get that asked a lot,” said Jerica, who loves viewing Dick Brown’s Christmas display east of Greenville each year. “Honestly, it’s not that much more…maybe $50 or $100.
“We use a lot of extension cords, timers and electric T’s,” said Nathan, whose grandmother also loved to decorate at Christmas time.
Yes, people do stop by to see their decorations.
“That makes us super happy,” Jerica said. “We love seeing the kids’ faces.”
Have they ever won any award for their decorating skills?
“During Covid, Ansonia had a light show instead of a parade,” Jerica said. “We got the most-liked votes.”
The Staffords met while attending Ansonia High School 10 years ago and were married four years ago.
One of their early dates was a trip to KFC and ending up at Shawnee Prairie, which they both love to visit still.
They do get each other gifts for Christmas, and especially leave at least one gift for each to open on Christmas morning.
Nathan, a 2014 graduate, works at the local Ethanol plant in Darke County, and his wife, a 2016 graduate, works for Ramco Electric Motors in Greenville, building aerospace motors.
Jerica, the daughter of Travis and Julie Thwaits, said she and Nathan love Christmas so much that they start thinking about it and brain-storming in mid-July each year.
When the time comes to work on their project, they start after they get off work until it gets dark.
“It takes a lot…about three weeks or 18 days,” she said. “I am glad we had some warm weather this year.”
The wind, they said, sometimes knock their decorations around, “but it’s not too hateful.”
And, Jerica doesn’t stop there. She decorates homemade cookies, makes baked goods to pass out in the neighborhood and loves crafting.
They have three Christmas trees in the house. The one in the kitchen is decorated with colorful fiber optics; one in the living room with the gingerbread theme; and another in the guest bedroom featuring the Grinch theme.
The themes inside the home are generally the same year after year.