Step into Jim Simpson’s home and you are instantly in a world devoted to Christmas.
Actually, even before you enter, his front lawn at 2313 E. Taxidea Way, Ahwatukee, already sets the stage with dozens of ornaments, blowups, lights and other holiday décor that say “Merry Christmas” in a bold and bright way.
His Ahwatukee Christmas House sports decorations and collections of decorations in every nook and cranny of the home he has lived in since 1992, about 13 years after he moved to Arizona from Chicago.
And for only three hours one day a year, the public is invited to see a collection he amassed over years of traveling the country and abroad.
That day is tomorrow, Dec. 19. From 6-9 p.m., people can tour the home and gawk at the front and backyards, where everything says “Merry Christmas” in bold and unique ways. People are asked to bring a can of food, which will be donated to an area food bank.
Visitors will find over 100 animated figures, ornaments and nativities from around the world, an 8-foot wall of angels, a 12-foot Christmas tree, over 75 nutcrackers, train sets, an 85-house village, over 30,000 lights in and around the house, and Santa Claus himself.
One wall is festooned with Christmas angels from top to bottom. Another wall brims with nutcrackers from around the world. Fireplace mantles and shelves are laden with Christmas houses, Santa villages and ornaments, some he has had since he was a child.
Among the train sets on display, one 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.
His home is packed with so many Christmas decorations that at times he has difficulty finding the plugs to set them aglow.
Many of the exhibits move as well, often to the well-known holiday tunes emanating from speakers, clocks and Christmas music boxes.
Asked why he goes all out this time of year, he told AFN, “I like Christmas and just 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 set-up takes a minimum 165 hours.
When he’s ready to attack the outdoor work, he gets a dispensation from his homeowners’ association to start ahead of its allowable 30-days-before-Christmas window for outside displays.
Simpson looks at it all as a labor of love.
He rarely stops thinking of 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 real quick,” he once told AFN. “Some have been given to us by people. Our neighbors have family in Sweden and they came to our house with an ornament and told us, ‘We heard about your house in Sweden.’”
Simpson looks at the house as a special way to extend holiday wishes to the community.
“For just a few minutes, people can forget about the rest of the world and just enjoy Christmas,” he said. “That’s our motivation. It really is our gift to the community.”