GREENVILLE — From outdoors, the residence on Hathaway Drive seems like any other during the holiday season. With a few lights and some Christmas decorations, it fits in well within the neighborhood of the Baldwin Woods subdivision.
But take a step inside the home of Jim and Mari Wise and you’ll find yourself immersed in a world filled with more than 30 Christmas trees, all specific in nature with thousands of lights and decorations to behold.
“Christmas time, to us, is really special because those are really fond memories,” Mari said. “But we haven’t gone all-out like this in a long time.”
To be technical, the home is filled with 30 trees and two half-trees, the most the Wise residence has seen since Jim began showing his home to spectators in 2001.
“Jim started an open house when he lived on Grove Street in 2001,” Mari said. “We got married in 2003 and I brought along my trees. Between the two of us, we just started collecting.”
That collection continues to grow year by year, and not just in the number of trees, which are artificial. Each tree is uniquely decorated with a theme, ranging from a travel tree, which features ornaments from around the world to locations both Jim and Mari have traveled, to a Paris tree, which features a miniature Eiffel Tower atop the tree as opposed to a more traditional star or angel.
Mari and Jim both say their inspiration to decorate so many trees stems from early childhood memories of Christmas past with their families.
“I can remember we weren’t very wealthy, we were kind of a poor family,” said Mari of her family. “But Christmas was a special time. My mother would save all year for that time of year. So we thought, let’s just have something kind of cool for the community and our church members to come take a look.”
Jim said his father was also an avid decorator around the holidays.
“My father was big into decorating for Christmas, but we didn’t have a lot,” he said. “Once I got to the point where I could afford a bit to decorate myself, he kind of inspired me. Before I knew it, I had enough for two or three trees, and then I just kept buying more and more.”
It seems only fitting that when the two married in 2003, their passion grew to the extent of decorating 30 trees within their home.
“Once we started dating, we bought this house, which gave us a bigger avenue to work with,” Mari said. “We now have thousands of lights and ornaments. We handle them one by one and wrap them and unwrap them individually as It’s important to have them organized, because each tree has a theme.”
Whether it’s the victorian tree, presidential tree, 1950s tree, angel tree, gold tree or the iridescent tree, nearly every home in the Wise residents features a tree lit up with lights and decorations.
“I like to keep it magical, as if I was still young,” Mari said.
The couple said they will continue to invite friends, family and members of the community to their home in the future, with a goal to share their holiday cheer.