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Themed Christmas trees show spirit, more

  • Ornaments on Mark Short and Carl Ray's dachshund themed Christmas tree at their home in Sebastopol on Dec. 16, 2013. (ALVIN JORNADA/ PD)

Marilyn Walden received her first angels in 1956. Gifts from her sister, the delicate ornaments were glittery and looked like finely spun sugar.

Eventually, other Christmas angels came to join those first six.

“We moved to California in 1964, and I bought an Italian papier mache one, and then I bought another one, and eventually I had enough angels for one tiny tree all done in angels,” recalls the 82-year-old Santa Rosa woman.

Themed Christmas Trees

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That was 1977, with enough angels to cover a 4-foot tree. Then friends and family began giving her angels, and the collection kept growing. Now they completely cover a 7-foot tree.

The retired nurse said she never set out to have a tree devoted only to angels. It just evolved out of necessity.

Ornament collections typically are acquired over many years, becoming vast and eclectic medleys representing a lifetime of memories. Some people, like Walden, use their trees as a way to show off their collections or to express a special passion or hobby.

She is fascinated by how varied her angels are.

“I like how people can take something we wouldn't think of and make a beautiful angel out of it,” she said. “I have glass ones and little wooden ones. I have porcelain and straw and balsa wood and dough. I have angels my daughter did in counted cross stitch.”

Carl Ray and Mark Short of Sebastopol love their dachshunds, so much so that about 10 years ago, they started collecting ornaments in the likeness of the short-legged little hounds with bodies like Bratwurst.

“It became an obsession to collect them,” said Ray, a marketing manager for Oracle.

“A Christmas tree full of dachshunds is funny. A tree full of German shepherds, not so much,” he adds with a laugh.

They added about a dozen ornaments a year, many purchased off eBay and Etsy, and by 2005 finally had enough to devote their entire tree to their dachshund obsession. It's topped by a star emblazoned with a black and tan dachshund reminiscent of their dear departed Dylan.

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