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They know the drill

They know the drill

New Whiteland parents create a crafty Christmas for their children

By Sherri Coner

While other people topped off their Halloween candy supply for trick-or-treaters, Jonnette McGowen’s vision had nothing to do with black and orange.

When she grabbed a hammer and nails, this artsy, fun-loving mom was clearly on a mission.

But drafting Mitchell was an important first step in the process.

Pretending to be an unassuming husband might work for other guys.

But Mitchell knows a few things about sharing life with his Christmas elf.

First, if Jonnette has a vision – especially if that vision has anything at all to do with Santa – Mitchell knows there is no way to avoid helping her.

And second, the level of magic and love Jonnette gives to their children is worth any amount of time she forces him into grabbing the toolbox.

And so, that is the backstory for how Mitchell and Jonnette ended up on the floor, arranging pieces of reclaimed wood.

By the way, that Santa-inspired mission occurred this past Oct. 27.

“I wanted a wood backdrop,” Johnnette said with a shrug.

Behind her, Mitchell’s handiwork had turned into an accent area of aged wood. It reached from the fireplace to the ceiling of their New Whiteland home.

Tiny twinkling lights followed the length of the mantel where family stockings hung.

“I wanted it to be like a country backdrop for my trees,” Jonnette explained about the project she and Mitchell completed. 

“I’m from Michigan originally, and flocked Christmas trees remind me of all the snow,” she said. “They feel like the country, but they also feel like winter to me.”

Somewhere around Halloween, at least one of their family’s five Christmas trees is upright and decorated, said oldest daughter, Elle Garske.   

“We didn’t really have the means to decorate when I was little,” his December-loving mom said.

“So when I had kids, I guess I went a little crazy.”

While recently visiting relatives in Michigan, adults and children, too, sat down together to create snowflakes, Jonnette pointed toward several of the paper pretties dangling above kitchen cabinets.

“I brought them all home and I’m saving them,” she said with a grin. “We will keep making snowflakes every year and hanging them up around the house.”

In a dining room corner, a slightly smaller tree is standing but with naked green branches.

That tree belongs solely to the kids.

The theme on the branches is usually Disney.

“There’s also an elf around our house,” Jonnette said in a low tone. “But he doesn’t come out until the kids decorate their tree. That’s how he knows Christmas is coming.”

In this family, decorations – no matter how early they appear – are not what is most important to this mom.

It’s about the memories she and Mitchell make with their children, including Saul, the baby of the family and the only boy, who seems to be doted on in stereo.

December festivals are also about traditions, such as the annual cookie baking weekend Jonnette plans with their daughters.

“I want our kids to be able to expect amazing things,” she said. “I hope it all stays with them and they want to do fun things at Christmastime with their own families.”

“I am 100% sure they will all remember,” Mitchell said with a smile and a nod. 

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