The Christmas lady

Welcome to the home of Cloverdale's Sharon Vrecko, where it’s feeling a lot like Christmas.

Welcome to Sharon Vrecko’s home in Cloverdale

Welcome to Sharon Vrecko’s home in Cloverdale

When it comes to getting into the Christmas spirit, Santa’s got nothing on Sharon Vrecko.

For more than 40 years, the decorating dynamo has turned her home into a Christmas wonderland, an annual tradition she shows no sign of abandoning any time soon.

“I just love Christmas,” smiles Vrecko, who is wearing Christmas tree earrings, a Santa teddy bear sweater, and dark slacks patterned with wreaths, candy canes and presents.

A visit to her home last week offered a tantalizing preview.

“Usually, my target date is Dec. 1,” says Vrecko, who explains it all began in 1967 – the first year she was married. She had $80 to spend on decorations, and went to the Army and Navy department store.

It was “more than enough to totally decorate our one-bedroom apartment,” she recalls.

These days, she’s got a lot more floor (and wall) space to work with. If she sees a decoration or collectible she likes, she buys it, but keeps strictly focused. “I don’t just ‘buy’ like I used to. I think.”

Everything – from the miniature Santas representing countries (and family members) around the globe to tiny, snow-covered Christmas towns – is carefully arranged, contained to specific sections of rooms or Christmas Angelspieces of furniture.

“I try and theme everything.”

A collection of angels gracing the piano in the corner of the family room is her pride and joy.

“I walked into a Christmas store about nine years ago, and I saw them.” She planned to buy one and start collecting.

“I walked through the store with one, and then I thought, ‘No! I have to have them all now!’ I went back and I bought ‘em all. And I’m glad I did, because the next year, they didn’t have them. They never made them again.”

Now retired from her job at Canada Post (although she still helps answer letters to Santa) Vrecko used to spend her tips from letter-carrying on Christmas collectibles.

As she points to various items, a memory sweeps into focus with each one.

A holdout against artificial trees she relented after her husband bought her a rotating artificial tree that was pre-lit.

She was skeptical at first. “He says, ‘you only have to use it for a couple of years, and it will pay for itself, and you can go back to your live tree.”

Predictably, she loves it now.

She used to take an entire week off work to get all her decorating done, starting as soon as her four sons (now grown) went off to school, taking a break for supper, and then continuing into the evening.

http://raven.b-it.ca/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wChristmaslady-ES.jpgIt now takes her a month to complete the transformation, working in shifts of up to three hours. (A bad back prevents her from working longer.)

Vrecko is so crazy about Christmas, her kids urged her to name her sweet-natured whippet “Santa’s Little Helper” – like the dog on the Simpson’s – but she settled on “Holly” instead.

She’s looking forward to having her four sons and their wives and girlfriends over on Christmas Day.

She admits her enthusiasm for Christmas decor may have damped theirs a little.

“They like it…” she trails off momentarily, then adds: “I said, ‘What would you do if I didn’t do it? They said, ‘We wouldn’t care.’ But I think they would. I really do.”

Fortunately, the newer additions to the family – including a daughter-in-law from China and another from India – joined Vrecko for another favourite family tradition: girl’s night.

Each woman painted a window according to a Christmas theme that meant something to them personally, hence the red paper lanterns in one pane and a colourful peacock in another.

After Christmas, everything will be packed into boxes, and tucked away for another year.

How much has she spent on decorations over the  years?

“I wouldn’t even hazard a guess.”Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

Stephen Gregorig, co-owner of Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks, holds a soon-to-be-filled can of Orion 1-1. Smugglers’ Trail is launching the beer in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Honour House—a home that supports soldiers, veterans, first responders, and their families. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
‘It’s a tip of the cap,’ Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks launches new beer to help support B.C. charity

Sales of Orion 1-1, a poppy-seed IPA, will help raise funds for Honour House

Photo posted to facebook.com/HoratioAlgerCA.
Eight Surrey students among 170 Horatio Alger scholarship winners in Canada

‘Need-based scholarships’ given to high school students

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo: Lauren Collins)
Six classes at four Surrey schools isolating after COVID-19 variants detected

District superintendent says schools given notices about variant exposures Monday night

File photo
Surrey council members give themselves a raise in secret meeting

A redacted report was subsequently posted to the city’s website

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read