The year was 1989. A woman and her husband had moved into their quiet, new home on Pine Street in Yankton with hopes of new adventure and an exciting new future. But when the woman gazed upon her soon-to-be abode, she did not see just a lonely old house sitting idly amongst the population of neighboring buildings that filled the block. What she saw was something far more important and precious.

She saw a vision - a vision that consisted of bright lights in the windows. A vision that contained the welcoming company of angels singing praises to the Father over a nativity scene. She envisioned the smell of pine making its way from various Christmas trees within the warmth of her living room. The woman, Deb Merkwan, dreamed of a house of holiday cheer and décor. Five years later, her Christmas wish came true.

“Christmas is all about family,” said Deb, a Yankton resident whose passion for Christmas is as spectacular as the holiday itself. Her love for the holidays is so strong that her husband (whom she married on Christmas day) developed an appreciation for Christmas as well.

Ever since she was a little girl, Deb would get together with her family for the holidays and create both new memories and a variety of Christmas traditions. Her family would often gather at her grandparent’s home to enjoy large dinners and Deb’s aunt would do everybody’s hair for Christmas Eve. Another tradition in particular consisted of Deb’s aunt arriving at their house with a tray filled with Christmas goodies such as cookies and candy.

This tradition became so common that, years later, Deb continued this tradition with her own family.

Throughout the years, Deb has also acquired a large collection of Christmas decorations that cover each and every room throughout the holiday season. Trees of various shapes and sizes can be found in each room, giving a different feel and flavor of holiday cheer. Small statues of St. Nick himself can also be found in various nooks and crannies within different rooms, or even on the walls of Deb’s kitchen.

One such miniature statue can be found next to a small Christmas tree, where Santa is holding presents, as if offering his gifts to the rest of the world.

Aside from the candy dish, Deb owns other various Christmas items that hold sentimental value to her. One such item is a pink ornament. “As a child, I thought this was the most beautiful thing in the world,” said Deb. “I always wanted to put it on the tree.” A glass nativity scene was given as a gift by Deb’s oldest nephew and his wife years ago and remains an important part of the holiday collections.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Deb’s holiday décor is the fact that every room in her home contains a central “theme.” In one room, one will be greeted by the smiling faces of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman, and the Lion from The Wizzard of Oz. In another, one will enter Christmas in Hawaii as various Santa Figurines wear summer attire and dance to Hawaiian music in various poses.

Other sections of Deb’s home are also themed such as a group of snowmen on a shelf enjoying winter’s chill, or shelves filled with Christmas bells of various colors, shapes, and sizes.

During the holiday seasons, many come together to enjoy Christmas festivities with their family and loved ones. But Deb’s passion for spending Christmas with her own family perhaps goes deeper than anyone will be able to comprehend.