Greenback couple gives huge dose of Christmas cheer

By Melanie Tucker

Scrooge doesn’t live here anymore.

The home of Faye and Mike Burnash at 5225 Morganton Blvd. in Greenback has instead become the perfect Santa hangout and every child’s dream.

There are 70 electronic toys scattered throughout the rooms, two live Christmas trees, four artificial ones, blinking lights across the doorways and enough Christmas cheer to call this couple Mr. and Mrs. Claus. And that’s just inside the home.

Outside on the lawn, a 12-foot Santa gives the hint this is no ho-hum attempt to stir our holiday spirit. Inflatables, snow globe, swings, carousels, candy canes, tall lighted trees, Nativity, Santa’s band and a host of other whimsical displays all have a purpose.

The Burnashes, who are in their 70s, don’t wear themselves out every November and December because they have nothing better to do. They haul all of this stuff from the garage out back and painstakingly create a beautiful, eye-catching picture of Christmas for all of us.

“That’s why we do it,” said Mike. “It makes us feel good to know we have made someone else’s Christmas special.”

It hasn’t always been this way, however, Faye revealed.

“When our six kids were no longer little he became such a Scrooge,” Faye said. “No toys, no dolls and trucks. He hated Christmas. It was a fight to get him to do anything.”

Then one year while the two were still living in Florida, Faye took Mike shopping the day after Christmas.

“I didn’t even get to look at anything,” Faye said. “I had the basket and he went nuts. When we walked out of there, our bill was $300 and that was half off everything.”

Every year after that Mike can hardly wait for Halloween to run its course so he can see what’s on the horizon for Christmas.

They still have every decoration they bought, all at clearance prices, of course. Mike loves the train sets that roll beneath the trees in the home. He has Santas on motorcycles, Santas that play the harmonica and saxophone and one that snores. All of the 70 toys either sing, light up, dance or all three. A frog on the kitchen counter croaks out “Jingle Bells” while a trio of cow, dog and pig belt out their own version.

In one corner sits a special tree. This angel tree was created when the Burnashes still lived in Florida and is decorated with angels Faye made.

Reindeers play the banjo, snowmen tell the Night Before Christmas story and trucks jingle, clang and whistle. Surely Christmas songs linger in the heads of the Burnash family long after Dec. 25.

It’s hard to choose a favorite display, Mike said. “I love them all,” he confessed. “Kids come in and fall in love with one of them and I have to give it to them. I hate that.”

One byproduct of all this festive fun isn’t so festive. Mike said his electric bill last year was $450, way up from the normal $150 to $175.

Then there are all the batteries for those toys. “We need 142 AA batteries,” Faye said. Plus others in varying sizes. It takes 30 extension cords to make sure everything else is in working order.

The couple, married for 55 years, starts on their display right around Thanksgiving. The lights outside are turned on at dusk and hours increase as it gets closer to Christmas. Mike and Faye said they thought about not going all out this year, but encouragement from neighbors, friends and strangers convinced them to carry on. They don’t always know how many cars pass by each evening but one neighbor counted 150.

They are running out of room, but have managed to find a home for everything they bring in. Once it’s all up, it stays up until 12 days after Christmas, Faye said.

There is a sign in the kitchen doorway that really is no longer pertinent to the Burnash household. Fay made it those many years ago when Scrooge roamed their hallways.

Bah-humbug, it simply states.

It probably should find a new place to dwell.