Christmas home tour includes stop at ‘grandma and grandpa’s house’


GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS The nativity scene at the base of Colleen Allen's living room Christmas tree reminds family of why Christmas came to be.

Santa's warming things up with hot cocoa.

Colleen Allen's father made this bird's nest ornament for his mother when he was in first grade.

The peacock tree in Ronnie and Colleen Allen's master bedroom matches the needlework that Colleen's grandmother made.
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

“This will be the first Christmas in this house. The best part is having everyone together,” said Chatfield resident Colleen Allen.

 She extends an invitation to the public to tour the home she and her husband, Ronnie, built on Hilltop Lane as their retirement home. It is a place that’s much larger than the home they shared during the years they raised their children because, well, it’s Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

The Chatfield Lutheran Holiday Tour of Homes is set for Sunday, Dec. 2, beginning at Chatfield Lutheran Church at 304 Fillmore St. SE — tickets, maps and shoe bags will be available at 11:45 a.m. for $8 per person, and tours will last until 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served at the church from 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Chatfield Lutheran Church Youth and Family Committee. 

Colleen explained that she and her husband chose to build their home with a panoramic view of the Chosen Valley and its bluffs because they wanted to live somewhere that allowed them to invite their children and grandchildren over to mark little and big occasions. Also, she added, they were planning ahead to the days when they’d need to live on a single floor, even though the home is expansive and has a finished basement. 

“We’re all on the same floor, even when we’re eating, and I’ve never had that before, so it’s nice to be able to share that,” Colleen said. “We also planned all the doorways to be wide enough so that if someday one of us needs to be in a wheelchair, we’ve got room.”

Tradition drives Colleen to decorate their halls with elegant reminders of Christmas and its meaning — she’s given to putting up spare yet important items, such as the ceramics that she and her grandmother have made, including the Santa cocoa pitcher and mugs perched high atop the kitchen cupboards, or mementos from years past. 

“I’ve done a lot of the ceramics here, and my grandmother did some of them, too,” Colleen said. “The Christmas tree in the living room is adorned by a large angel at the top to symbolize the angel that appeared to the shepherds. The nativity sits at the base of the tree. I like to think the lights on the tree symbolize the stars in the heavens. Smaller angels are added to the tree, and we have an ornament for each family member that is deceased. Each of these ornaments reminds us of what that person enjoyed while alive. Also, I have an ornament that my father made for his mother while in first grade.”

The Allens’ master bedroom Christmas tree is wild with peacock feathers inspired by a piece of artwork that belonged to Colleen’s grandmother, the very same piece that helped the couple choose the paint color for their bedroom walls. 

“The tree in the master bedroom is decorated in peacock colors to complement the peacock needlework done by my grandmother,” Colleen explained. “And in our basement, we have a tree that’s got red and black plaid for a ‘lodge’ theme — I put antlers at the top instead of a star.” 

A glitzy reindeer here, a little ribbon and jazz there, a ceramic Christmas village lining the sideboard in the dining room…it all adds up to a clutter-free but cozy Christmas. Just add a busy family with grandchildren all around, and it’s filled to the top and far corners with holiday excitement and wonder. 

“The Allen Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve by everyone attending church, followed by gathering at our house for dinner and opening gifts. Each child receives three gifts — a tradition that started when one of the granddaughters asked, ‘Why do we get only three gifts?’ to which I replied, ‘Jesus only received three gifts.’ So that started the tradition of only three gifts. We also have the ‘Jesus cake,’ which is a birthday cake.”

And there’s no place like Grandma’s house for Christmas.

To find the Allens’ blufftop home, go to 17182 Hilltop Lane, at the end of the cul-de-sac just across from Chatfield Elementary School. 

The Chatfield Lutheran Holiday Tour of Homes is set for Sunday, Dec. 2, beginning at Chatfield Lutheran Church at 304 Fillmore St. SE — tickets, maps and shoe bags will be available at 11:45 a.m. for $8 per person, and tours will last until 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served at the church from 11:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Chatfield Lutheran Church Youth and Family Committee.