One wall is covered with Christmas angels and another with nutcrackers. Shelf upon shelf carries displays of Nativity sets, Santas and holiday snow globes. Ornaments from around the world and throughout the ages fill almost every nook and cranny of the single-story home.
And for three hours once a year, you can get a close look at Jim Simpson homage to Christmas.
Tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 21, is the day when Simpson will open his home at 2313 E. Taxidea Way, Ahwatukee, to the general public. Hours are 6-9 p.m.
Simpson doesn’t ask much for the privilege of taking a long leisurely stroll through his “Christmas house.” People only need to bring a can of food he can donate to a local food bank.
In return, you get to see all the Christmas memorabilia he has been collecting since childhood in a home he has lived in since 1992.
Among the train sets on display is one that circles a 12-foot Christmas tree loaded with lights and ornaments.
From the curb to the backyard wall, more than 30,000 lights glow at night, illuminating Christmas trees, Santa Clauses and elves and other holiday figurines. His collection of Santa Claus figurines alone represents artifacts from 110 countries.
Asked why he goes all out this time of year, he simply replies, “I like Christmas and started doing it in 1992, and this is what it’s grown into.”
He starts work on each year’s display well before monsoon season ends, carefully extracting each individually wrapped ornament from some 250 large boxes that contain hundreds more smaller boxes with ornaments. He figures setup takes a minimum of 165 hours.
He rarely stops thinking about Christmas throughout the year, buying more ornaments and decorations at stores both in the U.S. and abroad as well as online.
If there’s a place with a Christmas department or Christmas store, I can find it real quick,” he said.
Simpson, who will dress as Santa tomorrow night for his guests, is a retired forensic therapist for the court system who was charged with determining defendants’ fitness for trial.
Retirement has made setting up his displays a little easier, though it also gives him more time to shop for more decorations.
However, he added, “Over the years, we’ve gotten pickier about what we want.”
But in the long run, what matters is the results.
“For just a few minutes, people can forget about the rest of the world and just enjoy Christmas. That’s our motivation. It really is our gift to the community.”