Since marrying her husband, Mack Louie McGee in 1957, Patricia McGee, known by most as Gdiddy, has been celebrating Christmas one decoration as at time.
“I owned a flower shop in Tampa,” Gdiddy said of how it all got started. “We all participated especially at Christmas when all the Christmas trees were shipped in. Choosing just the right tree was a lot of fun and then getting out the ornaments that we had accumulated from all over the country and from Germany evoked many memories of times past.”
This is the second year that the McGee family has gone all out decorating their Macon County home. Gdiddy credits the new annual trend to her daughter, Kelly, and her boyfriend, Jerry.
“We have decorated for Christmas wherever we lived for the 59 years that my late husband and I were married,” said Gdiddy. “He retired from the Air Force and from Tampa Electric so we moved quite a bit. There is something wonderful about the celebration of Christ’s birth. To us, the lights and beauty signify that magnificent time of the year.”
What started in Tampa and travelled as the McGee family moved over the 60-year span, has landed at the end of Mashburn Branch Road. Mashburn Branch features several decorated homes, but at the end of the little drive sits the McGee home.
“I can remember as a kid, living in Tampa my GDiddy and Poppy had six trees up around the house,” said Kaitlyn McGee, Kelly’s daughter. “Every one of her kids – five, plus a family tree – had a tree that they got to design. There was a teddy bear tree, Victorian, Fox / plaid, etc. we had a tree in every room. The kitchen, dining room, foyer, living room, second dining area, and in the front room. Christmas was always a huge tradition for us. We’d have 60-plus people over on Christmas Day for dinner. All the cousins, second cousins, husbands and wives, and children. I think my grandparents instilled the love and true meaning of Christmas in all of us at a young age. Every year, to this day, we decorate the tree together. She has ornaments from when she and my Poppy first got married.”
Decorations in the yard have been added by Kelly and Jerry in the last few years, but the main attraction, a labor of love for 20 years sits on the screened-in front porch. An interactive Christmas Village with a snow-capped mountain backdrop spans to the ceiling of the porch. Dozens of detailed figurines from general stores, to churches, to an ice cream food truck are carefully and intentionally placed around the village. An ice skating rink is in the middle and includes a full Christmas carnival to the east and Santa’s Workshop and a popcorn factory to the west. Each item of the village has been added to the collection over the last 20 years, with new items showing up around Christmas each year. Also included is a bucket of remotes to turn various attractions off and on.
“My daughter, Kelly, orchestrates the setting up of the village with over 100 houses,” said Gdiddy. “Her goal is to start in November. Sometimes we fall short. Jerry picks up the slack and does all the outside decorations.”
Kelly said this year, she started preparing to set up the village in September. With designing the felt mountain backdrop, a new addition this year.
While the village is the main attraction, the entire house is decorated inside and out, from house’s ceiling to the mailbox down the drive.
“My favorite decoration is the Manger scene with the peg leg donkey,” said Gdiddy. “That was always important to all of us. Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favorite things. Someone else strings the lights (whatever able bodied man that is available), I and others hang the ornaments.”