Growing up in a bustling maritime household, Duncan Campbell remembers the effort his parents made to ensure the Christmas season was merry and bright.
“When we came together at Christmas, all the things that made us dysfunctional, the normal dysfunctional things, we didn’t experience them,” said Campbell, whose middle name is aptly Noel.
“There’s no other time like it. Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved it – never let go of it my entire life.”
His passion of the holidays followed him from Mount Pearl, N.L. to Saskatchewan and is evident in every corner of his elaborately decorated two-story home in Regina’s Cathedral neighbourhood.
Looking around his living room, Campbell admits he has no idea how many ornaments he has on his three trees (although he does know the main one has 5,400 lights and its branches – sagging under the weight of them – are held up by fishing line).
Nor does he know how many Santa Claus figurines are on his mantle, from which eight stockings hang although he just shares the space with his partner and cat. Elf Village and Angel Heights are destinations atop his buffet. He easily has thousands of decorations.
“As you acquire more and more, your display gets more and more ridiculous and more and more elaborate and we’re sort of here at this point bursting at the seams,” he said, with a laugh.
Campbell began collecting 30 years ago when he was living in Saskatoon.
“Saskatoon back in the ’90s, was just this amazing place where you could just find so much great stuff at garage sales,” he said, recalling one particular box of Christmas decorations he purchased for a quarter hoping “there’d be something old and interesting in it.”
That’s how he found his vintage chenille-pant Santa ornament worth hundreds of dollars. And a 1940s-style angel tree-topper like the one his mother had when he was very young.
“In the beginning, it was like hand over fist. I’ll take whatever,” Campbell said, reminiscing.
Now he’s a bit pickier and doesn’t limit himself to just antiques.
If he wants something he can’t find, he creates it. If he sees something he likes at the dollar store, he said he picks it up.
Each November, it takes him three or four days to unpack and display all of his decorations basement storage space.
Campbell describes himself as a “holiday enthusiast,” but emphasizes he’s not religious.
“There’s a quality during the holidays whether you’re religious or now where people what to come together and enjoy each other’s company,” he said.
The coming togetherness of the season is what takes him back to his childhood.
“The real joy that I find this time of year is with the people. If people weren’t coming and sharing food and drinks and spending time and just coming together to be happy with one another there wouldn’t be a reason to do all of this,” said Campbell, who takes great pride and care in the the annual gatherings he hosts during the holiday season.
“I just want people to come in and feel like they did when they were a kid.”