Ho! Ho! Ho! Library to feature Santa Claus collection

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, November 28, 2013

JANESVILLE—Anita Day's collection of the white-bearded, plump, grandfatherly man of folklore who brings gifts to well-behaved children at Christmastime comes in all shapes and sizes.

Her smallest Santa Claus is the size of a chicken egg while the largest stands 3.5 feet tall. Some are made of cloth; others of porcelain or wood.

But all are "little reminders of Christmas and family time," said the 58-year-old Milton woman, who keeps some of her Santas on display year-round in her home.

Around 50 of Day's 300-piece, 18-year-old collection will be featured in the case exhibit during December at Hedberg Public Library. There are figurines, tree ornaments, picture frames, stained glass and cookie plates for example.

"My Dad's wife had a collection I admired," Day said.

Some of the Santa Clauses represent various professions such as firemen and construction workers. Others represent the military--Coast Guard and Navy personnel. Some showcase colleges such as UW-Madison and Louisiana State University, while others--such as Cajun Santa--have an ethnic connection.

Day's favorite is a Department 56, 3-inch tall wood carving of a kneeling, barefoot Jolly St. Nick.

"It reminds us to be humble, unselfish and to share the giving spirit of Christmas," she said.

Day finds all of her Santa's valuable, but the one with the highest monetary value is an antique jester-looking Santa with a fabric body and hand-painted face.

Her most rare piece is a blue Jewish Santa she bought in a Christmas store at The Janesville Mall.

"I've never seen another one like it since," she said.

While Day buys some of her Santas, she has received others as gifts. Louisiana is the farthest place she's traveled to buy one.

And you might be surprised about what Day enjoys most about her collection.

“It reminds me of innocence. It's pure," she said. "We forget to look at the good things when there is so much bad news going on in this world."

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