Merry and bright

A visit to the doctor’s office may not be a pleasant experience for some people, but the cheerful Christmas decor at Dr. John Vela’s office tends to put clients more at ease.

A crafty employee, Liz Carry of rural Republic, has been decorating the office since she started working there 19 years ago. Retired from the Social Security Administration after 29 years of employment, Carry works part-time doing patient statements and handling insurance claims. The decorating is done on a volunteer basis.

“Decorating the doctor’s office is an annual ritual. I also decorate for the seasons, but not to the extent of Christmas,” Carry said.

An outdoor wreath at the entrance is coordinated with other items inside the office. She buys the supplies and makes everything herself with supplies from stores such as Walmart, Pat Catan’s and Sam’s Club. Each year, the basic wreaths, garlands and swags are given different ribbons or moved to different places for variety.

“When I started, country was in, with berries and pine cones and rusty stars and that sort of thing. But it’s evolved to where now bling is in,” Carry said.

This year’s collection features ribbon with stripes of glitter that is used on the Christmas tree and other items. Another year, Carry chose a patriotic Christmas theme to honor a client’s son who was on active duty in Iraq.

“We have a very kind lady that loves all this stuff and she always buys us something. She’s in here in November wanting to know what we need. … We just love her. She gets us in the spirit,” Carry said. “Every year, she brings us something different.”

The after-Christmas sales are a good way to get discounted merchandise in coordinating colors. Carry stores her finds in her basement workshop until the season rolls around again.

This year, she got creative and made a large, decorative gift package with lights inside. Carry’s husband, Don, constructed a wood frame she covered with burlap, tied with the striped ribbon and added balls and greens. She also made a 5-foot tall Santa figure that occupies a corner in the hall.

“I’ve made lots of stuff. In fact, when I go home during the Christmas season, I will see from here to Republic at least four houses that have my snowmen or Santas. One woman has my butterfly house on her porch,” Carry said.

The office Christmas tree is set up in the children’s play area in the waiting room. All the ornaments are plastic and attached with ribbon instead of hooks. The children can touch it as much as they want. The same goes for a Nativity set and other unbreakable Christmas toys.

Often, a fellow employee or a patient asks Carry to make a wreath or some other item.

“I say, ‘Just bring me a wreath. I’ll make it.’ I’ve spent several lunches making things,” Carry said.

“When we take everything down, it’s really blah around here, but Liz has another season ready. We don’t have the blahs very long,” Maureen Vela said.

In the summer, Carry assembles the outside planter at the office, in addition to her own flower beds at home. A member of the Attica Community Garden Club, she helps to plant and care for the flowers in the Attica Park. She helps with the club’s booth at the Attica Fair and participates in their fundraisers and other activities. The scarecrows come out for autumn.

Carry said she usually buys patterns for her wood projects because they specify how much lumber to buy for each item. Her painting and decorating makes each one unique. Don cuts the wood into desired shapes.

“Half my basement is decorations and wooden stuff,” Carry said. “I have two saws down there, but any more, he does most of my cutting. I used to cut out all this stuff.”

She said her interest in art goes back to her school days. In seventh grade, she even helped her teacher to prepare art lessons for the class. When posters were needed for prom, concerts and other events, Carry usually contributed. As an adult, she worked at the former Auckland Floral shop in Attica and at Something Special in Tiffin. Both places also sold her pieces.

“I have made and sold numerous wood items in the past, mostly 4-, 5-foot Santas, snowmen, Uncle Sams, scarecrows and birdhouses. I also enjoy making florals for each season,” Carry said.

Her handiwork also can be seen at the Seneca East Library and Clinton Castle Realty in downtown Willard. Carry sets up a Christmas village in the realty company’s window. When not working on crafts, florals and gardening, Liz and Don enjoy traveling and spending time with their two grandchildren, ages 4 and 5.