Christmas nostalgia on display

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 3, 2023

Couple use their vintage Christmas collection to create window displays in downtown Ironton

If you drive through downtown Ironton and notice some business building windows look like department store Christmas displays of years past, you can thank the Sextons.

The couple, Jennifer and Brian, have been collecting vintage holiday decorations for years. So much so, that they set up their displays of Halloween decorations on their five acres of land outside of Chesapeake for the whole

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month of October for people to drive through and take a look. They also set up a massive display of decorations inside and outside their house at Christmas time, although they don’t advertise that one as much, because it gets awfully cold to stand outside and direct traffic on their one lane road.

As the Christmas season began, Jennifer got a call from her sister, Patricia Coleman, the owner of Cardinal Wishes, who asked if they could help brighten up Ironton.

“She wanted to make downtown more inviting for Christmas and she knew we had tons and tons of decorations,” she said. “We said we would be happy to help because we love this town also.”

The couple spent last week setting up decorations in the windows of the Brumberg Building and the former Allen Law Office.

So how did the couple end up with lots of vintage decorations, including aluminum trees, blow mold Santas, candles and snowmen and a few municipal decorations?

As with many things, it started with a grandchild.

“We very first started collecting our decorations because of our grandbabies,” Jennifer said. “We had gotten a few and then we kind of went mad.”

Brian said the first grandbaby, Ava, had to “hug every single decoration before she left.”

From there, the couple started traveling and picking up lots of vintage decorations wherever they were being sold. One time, after an all-day event, they packed up the car and drove eight hours to Pennsylvania just to purchase a collection of vintage goods.

“We probably have 3,000-4,000 blow molds,” Jennifer said. “Whether it is Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, every holiday, we collect,” Jennifer said. “And we collect any vintage decorations. The inside of our house is completely decorated, every inch of it. We love all of it.”

She said they love it all, often for the nostalgia of it.

“We say that we are saving Christmas, one vintage piece at a time,” Jennifer said. “A lot of people just don’t know the value of it, not the money of it, but the nostalgia of it. To me that is precious, that is worth more than anything.”

She said she loves the stories that come with their collections.

As for a grail piece for their collection, Brian really wants some of the Christmas decorations that the City of Ironton used to put up.

“But I can’t get anyone to give it up,” he said. They have a couple municipal pieces from West Virginia and Ashland, but nothing Ironton. “It would just be nice to have.”

And it has been a lot of hard work to put the displays together, but the Sextons are having fun doing it.

“This is us, this what we do,” Jennifer said. “So, yeah, it has been a lot of fun. And where we live in the country, a lot of people can’t see it. So, this is a showcase for us and all the hard work we put into it.”