2016 Newsletter

Here is our 2016 Edition of Santa's Texas Newsletter. We sent out the printed copy in our brochure on September 6, and in it I said that I would post it in larger print on our blog.

1986 - 2016

We will open the last weekend in September, 2016,
plan to stay open through April, 2017.
Call for reservations to visit The Christmas House.

Our Christmas store,
is filled with
new decorations and gifts for 2016,
as well as all-time favorites.
They inspire, entertain,
recall nostalgic memories,
help make special new memories!

We always have Magic Music and Motion Rhythm® Clocks
the very best gift to give to yourselves
or to give to others!

Shopping at Santa’s Texas Workshop
is after each tour
by appointment year ’round.
Please call before coming to shop.

There are three special shopping days without appointments. 
·         Sunday, September 25th from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
·         Thanksgiving Day from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.
·         Monday, December 26th  9:30 to 5:30

We occasionally have special sale days. They are advertised via
·         Facebook, Santa’s Texas Workshop & The Christmas House
·         Constant Contact newsletter

“Like” us on Facebook: Santa’s Texas Workshop & The Christmas House
Sign up for our Constant Contact Newsletter in the following ways:
(1) Go to www.santastxworkshop.blogspot.com and on the right side, click on the link “Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter.”
(2) If you’re into smartphones, you can text STW to 42828 to get started.
(3) If you receive e-mails, but you don’t do all this “stuff,” just pick up the phone or send us an e-mail, and Janie will add your name and e-mail address for you!!
361-325-2068 OR 800-276-4229

Beginning in 1982, when we were still just having Christmas open houses to which we invited family and friends, our parents and the three of us made a donation to The Children’s Heart Institute (CHI).  We determined, as a family, that we would give a total of $2.00 for each guest who signed our guestbook, and Dorothy made sure that every man, woman, and child who walked through the door signed! There were over 600 people who came by invitation that season.
That first year, we raised $1,660.00, because many of our friends made donations, too. The very next year, the donations totaled $2,300.00. Each year the amount grew larger.
By 1986, we decided to open our home for public tours, charging an admission fee of $4.50. We gave $1.00 of that to CHI.  We still had some open houses to which we invited family and friends, and many of them continued to make donations. Since they didn’t pay to see the house, we continued to give $2.00 for each of them.
The admission fee was raised a couple of times during the first few years, but we changed it to $8.00 at some point, and that price still stands today.  We have continued to give $1.00 out of each paid admission, and we three still share and give a total of $2.00 for each non-paying guest.  In addition to that, each one of us has always added our own personal donation every season.
In January of 1993, a guest jokingly gave Dorothy a nickel to play the antique organ. Dorothy agreed to put it on the organ, telling the woman that at the end of the season, the nickel would be added to the CHI donations.  However, other guests decided to add to it, and by the end of the season, a grand total of $66.55 had been left on the organ for CHI!  That became a tradition and continues to this day, started each season by our first group that has been coming every year for 30 years, and have had a standing reservation to be the first tour for over 26 years.
Dr. James W. Simpson, M.D., who was a pediatric cardiologist, head of cardiology at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, and the founder and operator of CHI, passed away in 2002. CHI was phased out a couple of years later, as Driscoll Children’s Hospital opened facilities to treat children in the Rio Grande Valley.  At that time, we made the decision to continue raising money to help children with heart conditions by benefitting DCH.
During the 2015 season, our guests left a total of $3,990.46 on the antique pump organ, making a grand total of $78,099.07 through the years. That’s quite a return on a single nickel!
On April 24th, 2016, we had a special Birthday Open House for Esther in celebration of her 85th birthday. We invited family and friends, requesting no gifts, cards, or flowers. We did say that if they wanted to honor Esther, a donation for Driscoll Children’s Hospital could be put in a special basket near the guest book. The donations came not only from those who attended the party, but also from family and friends who were invited, but could not be here. The total amount donated in honor of Esther was $2,000.00! Wow, thank you, everyone!
Including the Organ Fund, $1.00 from each paid admission, $2.00 from us for each non-paying guest, donations from family and friends, our personal contributions, and Esther’s birthday donations, we raised $14,045.00 during the 2015 Christmas season.  The grand total from 1982 through the end of the 2015 Christmas season now totals $322,905.00.
We had 138 events during the 2015 season.  Through the years, we have hosted 5,971 events.
During the 2015 season, a total of 1,427 people visited The Christmas House, and that included 357 non-paying guests and 1,070 who paid.  We have hosted and entertained a grand total of 76,937 visitors through the years.

Thank you to all who visited The Christmas House, making the contributions possible, and we thank all of our tour guests who made their own contributions on the organ.  It is more than greatly appreciated by the three of us and by Driscoll Children’s Hospital. It is our prayer that in some small way during all these years, our Christmas House has been instrumental in helping many South Texas children with heart problems.

We began honoring every 100th visitor several years after we opened for tours, and can’t recall exactly what year that was! We were only going to do it for that one Christmas season, but it was so much fun that it became a tradition! Since that long ago time, we have recognized every 100th visitor who signs our guest book by giving them a personalized ornament to commemorate their visit to The Christmas House.  The special ornament for the 2015 season was one that we had made especially for Santa’s Texas Workshop.  These ornaments, called Nation’s Treasures, are metal and have our logo Cowboy Santa Claus in the center with Santa’s Texas Workshop written below. In addition to giving one to each 100th visitor, we also sell these ornaments in the store.
Those receiving the ornaments for the 2015 season were in order:  Pamela Jo Wojtowicz, Erma Campos, Julie Ann Saenz, Dolores Rincones, Susan McGlumphy, Darlene Turner, Catherine Fox, Helen Evick, Donna Lovdahl, Carmen Tilton, Dave Kovach, Alejandro Garza, Alaina Carrera, and Dora Garza.

We wish to thank every guest who visited The Christmas House.  We sincerely hope that you will return for the 2016 season.

½ cup liquid cooking oil (use your favorite)               1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs                                                                 1 teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups original applesauce                                        ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar                                                                  2 teaspoons cinnamon
1½ cups all-purpose flour                                            ¾ teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat oven to 375°. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 5 seconds.  Scrape sides of container and then pulse 1 or 2 times to combine.  Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan (Esther uses Baker’s Joy.) Bake for 60 minutes. This bread will be moister and taste better 24 hours after it comes out of the oven.

Our overall theme for the 2015 Christmas season was “Thirty Years of Christmas.” We did repeat a few themes in the house, but always using only a few items from the past with brand new decorations to go with them.
On the carport where visitors to The Christmas House gather and are welcomed by Janie before entering the house, the theme was Our 30th Season. We decorated with new “pearl” garlands and picks along with number “30” ornaments that were wooden cutouts about 3 to 4 inches tall and painted white with pearlized paint. (Dorothy and Esther did the painting. Janie glued Diet Coke can pop tops on the back for hangers.)  We chose to use pearls, because they are the symbol used for 30th anniversaries.
The first room, affectionately called The Hall of Doors by the three of us (there are seven doors in that small room which serves as our entry hall), was decorated with a Nostalgic Theme. The decorations were all brand new, but had a nostalgic look reminiscent of our childhoods. We used our childhood dolls and little doll furniture that was made by our mother for Dorothy and Esther during the Great Depression years of the 1930’s. She used orange crates for the wood!  A christening dress, made by our great-grandmother, Maggie Howard McCandless, and her daughter, our great-aunt Ida Howard Wood, in 1895, was a focal point in this room.
The Office theme was Santa Claus. The main display in this room was a retired collection called “The History of Santa Claus” by Duncan Royale. The copyright date on the pieces and on the book that accompanied it is 1983. We have had the collection for nearly 30 years and had used it many years ago. The eleven figurines, which are eight to 10 inches tall, represent Santa from St. Nicolas, Bishop of Myra (200 A.D.), to The “Soda Pop” Santa, inspired by the Coca-Cola Santa originated in 1931. He is the Santa we all know and love yet today. Other Santa inspired decorations completed that room’s d├ęcor.
We have a large family room which is decorated each year with two themes. This season the entire room represented one theme, The Songs of Christmas. Family Room East represented secular songs. We used Department 56® Snow Village™ lighted buildings and accessories to represent sixteen different songs like Santa Claus is Coming to Town, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Silver Bells (It’s Christmastime in the City), etc.
Family Room West represented nine different Christmas carols about the birth of Jesus. The focal point of this area was the entire retired collection of the Department 56™ “Little Town of Bethlehem”™ that represented the song of the same name. Away in a Manger was depicted with a collection of fourteen small Nativity scenes displayed in the old desk which is called a “secretary.” Due to space constraints, we can’t list every song, so that will be a project for our blog in the future!
The Kitchen was next, and we celebrated our Dutch Heritage. Our Minten grandparents, Peter John (Pieter Jan) Minten and Marie (Marijke) Siemonsma Minten, were both born in the Netherlands in 1864, met and married in the Dakota Territory in 1887, lived in Iowa (where our dad was born in 1904), and moved to Texas in 1907. We learned a lot about their Dutch roots as we grew up and love celebrating that heritage. Over the years, we have accumulated a large collection of blue and white Delft pottery, including a lighted village made in Holland, Michigan. We used that along with other pieces that we purchased during visits to the Netherlands. Our favorite is a Nativity scene, made in the Netherlands, but purchased by us in Pella, Iowa. Along with all this Delft, we used red tulips in the Christmas greenery. Blue and white Delft with red tulips represent the national colors of the Netherlands, but also the colors of the U.S.A.!
After serving refreshments in our “Dutch” kitchen, and a time of visiting while our guests enjoyed those snacks while seated in family room west, the tour continued in Esther’s Bedroom. There were lots of “oohs and aahs” when this room was entered. Pink was the predominant color in Cottage Rose. This room’s decorations were an exact repeat of this same theme, using the same decorations we had used about 10 years earlier. We didn’t really change a thing (thank goodness for photographs)! Pink glittery roses along with other decorations gave one the feeling of having entered a peaceful rose garden where a tea party was in progress. The children enjoying tea at a pink wrought iron table were Dorothy’s doll, received from Santa in 1929 when she was two years old, the 115 year-old doll that belonged to our mom’s cousin (sent to our mom for safe-keeping in 1944, after her cousin’s death), and our mom’s doll that she and her sister received from Santa around 1909. Many people did not want to leave this room and commented that we should never take these decorations down. (However, we did; there’s a brand new theme in this room for 2016.)
The guest bathroom, not shown on the tours, but always decorated for anyone who uses it during the tour, was Memories of our 2015 Vacations—two of them! One was a Western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston. We had never been to Jamaica, so most of our decorations were purchased there. The second vacation was a trip to California to visit with family, help cousins, Mickey and Wade Landrum, celebrate their Golden Wedding anniversary, and visit Disneyland during its 60th anniversary year!
Dorothy’s Bedroom was next. The royal blue and silver theme on the trees in this room represented the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland. We have been to this original park in Anaheim, CA, so many times since Janie was 12 in 1956, that we have lost count! It helps having Mickey and Wade live just 10 minutes from the park entrance! When visiting them, Disneyland is always included in the itinerary of things to do. The Landrums’ daughter, Jennifer, is an expert on everything Disney!! Visiting the park with Mickey, Jennifer, and her son, Austin (now 9 years-old) is more fun than you can imagine! Jennifer is the only person we know who has more Disney collections than we do!! The main display in this room was a miniature collection of Disneyland Main Street buildings and park attractions by Robert Olszewski (ol-ches-ski). We have this extensive collection, because the Landrums gave us each piece as they were introduced at Disneyland beginning in 2005 for the 50th anniversary. It took about 10 years of gifting and collecting to accumulate all the pieces that we have in our collection! In addition to the Disneyland Park emphasis in this room, we also did a tree and display for “Frozen.” We love the story of this new Disney phenomenon—perhaps because it is about the love shared by these two sisters!!
Dorothy’s Clothes Closet was dedicated to Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Dorothy and Esther were 10 and 6½, respectively, when this first ever full-length, color, animated feature film premiered. Dorothy became a SW & the 7 D’s fan at that time, and has been collecting ever since. She and Esther collected all kinds of memorabilia as children, but then Dorothy continued collecting until the present day. Much of this collection was displayed in her closet.
The “Surprise Closet,” or as we call it, the Mini-Museum, in Dorothy’s room was another Disney related theme and a repeat from years earlier. Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the Fairy Godmother graced the “stage” here. There were lots of oohs and aahs when the doors to this walk-in closet were opened. This beautiful scene defies description with mere words!

The Formal Living Room, as always the last room and theme on the tour, was the very same theme that it has been for most of the years of Christmas House tours--The True Meaning of CHRISTmasWhile we love every aspect of Christmas and let our imaginations run wild with ideas about Santa, nostalgic times, Disney, toys, our heritage, and many more themes during the years, this room always depicts why CHRISTmas is celebrated. We change everything each year, using a different color scheme and new decorations and figures, but it’s always Nativity scenes, angels, and crosses. For our 30th Christmas season, we did repeat a color scheme from the past. Purple, lavender, and silver presented a beautiful interpretation of Christ’s birth. The end of every tour in this room has always been a wonderful opportunity for us to share our faith in Jesus Christ.  Sharing the Gospel, has always been the driving force behind our Christmas House.

We didn’t take a lengthy vacation this year. We decided that we would stay in Texas and make it short and sweet!
On Thursday, May 5th, we packed our Dodge Grand Caravan and drove to Temple where we spent two nights. Janie had a board meeting to attend at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Friday. On Saturday morning, we slept a little later than usual, checking out of the Fairfield Inn at 11:30, driving just down the street to The Cracker Barrel where we ate breakfast for lunch!
Our destination that Saturday was Dallas. However, we stopped in Waco and visited Magnolia Market, a retail store owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the couple who are The Fixer Uppers on HGTV. They have revitalized and turned the area near downtown Waco into a retail phenomenon that can be enjoyed by whole families. It is housed in an old grain barn with two huge silos beside it. What a “fixer upper” project that turned out to be! We enjoyed the visit!
From Waco, we drove the relatively short distance to Dallas where we checked into the Renaissance Hotel. We had tickets to see “WICKED” on Sunday afternoon, May 8th, at The Dallas Music Hall. We really enjoyed seeing this musical again, as we had seen it in Dallas once before. After seeing it the first time, we always said we wanted to see it again!
On Monday morning, we drove to Sherman, which is located about an hour north of Dallas. We stayed there until Thursday and had the nicest visit with our cousin, Ann Atherton, and her husband, Olan. Ann’s neighbor and good friend, Elayne Lemons, also shared in our good time!
One of the highlights of our visit with Ann was a visit that she, Elayne, and the three of us made to the historical home of Sam Rayburn, who was the Speaker of the House in Washington, D.C., when we were very young. The house is wonderfully preserved, and when you walk in, it’s as though you are there to see Mr. Sam himself! All the furnishings in the house are the original articles that belonged to him and his family members who lived there, too. (He was not married.) It is full of memorabilia and historical artifacts from his time as Speaker.
From there, we drove back to Denison, where we had lunch at Huck’s. Going there when visiting Ann is a tradition! They serve the best catfish with all the trimmings! Ummmm good!!
The next day, we drove the opposite direction out of Sherman and went to Whitesboro. The main street is filled with boutiques and antique stores, so we really enjoyed that! We had lunch there at one of Ann’s favorite places, a quaint boutique/restaurant/bakery/ice cream parlor called Lovejoy's on Main Street. Our server was so nice about helping Esther and Janie choose grain and sugar free items from the men.
On Thursday morning around 11:00 we met Ann at Cracker Barrel. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast/lunch and one more visit with her before finally departing and driving 30 miles to McKinney. There we had a wonderful visit with friends who left Premont many years ago to make their home north of Dallas to be near their two children and the grandchildren!
Lou and Nolon Daily welcomed us at their home, and then we drove the very short distance to the home of their daughter, Patti, and her husband, Steve Gilbert, where they served dinner.  We were joined by the Daily's son, Paul, his wife, Becky, and three of their six sons.

The next morning, we began the journey home, driving as far as San Antonio. On Saturday morning, after one last breakfast at (you guessed it!) Cracker Barrel, we finished the trip home!


We have pictures of every decoration and display that we have done for the past 30 years. That is with the exception of one thing. A couple of years ago we did a Planter’s Peanut display on the table behind the sofa in our family room. We never took a picture of it!! If anyone took a picture of that table, PLEASE, PLEASE send us a copy of it. You can send it via e-mail to southtexassanta@yahoo.com or by text to 361-522-5535. Regular address is at the top of the newsletter. Thank you in advance!

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