You’ve heard the phrase “like a kid at Christmas”?
That’s Jim Hadden in a Hallmark store.
The Davenport man began collecting the company’s Keepsake ornaments innocently enough 20 years ago when he found himself at a Hallmark store some days after Christmas, “looking for a card or something.”
Instead, he succumbed to the allure of half-price ornaments.
His holdings have since grown to about 1,050 pieces, carefully packed in their original boxes in about 30 bins. They come out at Christmas, decorating three trees, two hallways and a door.
Both he and his wife Celia collect, poring through the annual “dream book” for things they really like and preferring to buy them on sale after the holidays.
The living room tree is dominated by Barbie and Madame Alexander dolls — Celia’s favorites — and an assortment of Jim’s favorites, many of which play music, move, light up or all three.
The animation has pros and cons. It is fun to look at, but it usually requires batteries. Or, as Jim will tell you, “LR44s, LR43s, LR41s, CR20-25s and sometimes Triple-A’s.”
Among the animated pieces are a Wurlitzer jukebox with lights and a tiny keyboard that you can use to make a musical selection. Jim prefers the “wind-ups” that work mechanically by turning a crank, such as a jack-in-the-box.
“It cheers my day to go in and play with the ornaments,” Celia says of the animated pieces.
A dining room tree has a food section that includes a highly detailed old-fashioned stove with cookies in the oven. The stove lights up and gives off a cinnamon scent (air freshener).
“The (Mr.) Potato Heads are down here because Celia doesn’t like them,” Jim explains, gesturing to the lowest branches of a tree.
The master bedroom contains the third and final tree: the “man” tree.
A major theme here is “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” and to better display the larger space vehicles, Jim has made his own sturdy metal hangers. “This is my invention,” he says. The hangers attach to the trunk, then extend out some inches beyond the branches.
Other figures are cars, including No. 1 in the Corvette series, and sports figures, such as No. 4 of the Green Bay Packers.
Although the Haddens’ collecting has slowed in recent years, they continue to buy. Among this year’s purchases was the Darth Vader “Peekbuster” figure that has nine different messages aimed at anyone peeking at their presents.
While the Haddens prefer not to pay full price, they’ll make an exception if they think a given ornament will sell out.
When Jim walks into stores after Christmas, the clerks say, “ ‘the list guy is here,’ ” he says. “That’s what they call me, ‘the list guy.’ ”