Photography by Sally Kolar
Childhood memories spark a love of Christmas for a Grovetown resident
Ever since she was little girl growing up in Augusta’s Sand Hills Historic District in the 1970s, Pamela McCladdie has loved Christmas. And an Augusta music legend played a big role in her fondness of the holidays.
“James Brown would decorate his house on Walton Way Extension for Christmas, and we would all go see it,” says Pamela, her face lighting up at the memory. “He would come out and say, ‘hi.’”
She not only got the chance to gaze in delight at the exterior decorations at the home of the Godfather of Soul, however. She also recalls her joy at catching glimpses of Christmas decorations through curtain-less windows of the homes on Walton Way Extension at night. Those memories have stayed with Pamela, and when she and her husband, James, built their home in Grovetown 12 years ago, she didn’t want drapes on the back of the house.
And anyone who peeks through the windows of their stucco home during the holiday season will get an eyeful of Christmas cheer.
O Christmas Trees
“We always put up eight Christmas trees, and each one has its own theme,” says Pamela, who works as an RN. She decorates the house the same way each year but adds something new every season. “I start decorating at Thanksgiving and continue up until Christmas,” she says.
Everyone in the family has a role to play in the preparations. James, a contractor, puts up the Christmas trees; Pamela does all of the decorating; and their daughter, Jada, a freshman at Georgia State University, expertly wraps all of the presents.
The key to wrapping beautiful packages, Pamela taught her daughter, is the paper. “The better your wrapping paper, the easier it is to wrap,” she says. “It’s thicker, and it’s easier to handle.”
The festive tone is set in the foyer, where a Santa dressed in a gold suit sits on a table. Pine cones and decorative gold butterflies are nestled in green garland wrapped around two columns.
The themed trees give each room its own personality. In the living room, almost all that glitters is gold. A gold and cream-themed tree features ornaments of the same colors and more Santas clad in gold. Strands of flameless candle lights illuminate the tree, which is topped by an arrangement of feathers. Reindeer and statues of the three wise men sit under the tree amongst presents wrapped in gold and cream-colored paper.
“My living room tree is my favorite tree,” says Pamela. “I love cream and gold.”
Pine cones and greenery adorn wall sconces, and gold snowflakes hang from the light fixture that also is decorated with greenery and decorative gold poinsettias. A gold and silver wreath hangs on the mirror, and a rectangular pillow, which says “Happy Holidays” and is accented with a red poinsettia, rests on the cream-colored couch.
A small white tree sits on top of a round, glass-topped, clock-faced table while a sleigh is parked on the circular coffee table. On a round end table, three clear rectangular LED candles of different heights give off a soft glow of light.
The living room also features red oak hardwood flooring, which extends throughout the first story except for the den, and a trey ceiling. Pamela commandeered two black chairs, originally purchased for James’ man cave, for the room, and they offer an eye-catching contrast to the cream-colored furnishings.
With its green walls, the adjoining dining room is ready for Christmas year-round. However, Pamela dresses it up in seasonal finery with a peacock-themed tree that includes peacock ornaments, blue and gold ornaments, peacock feathers and a gold tree skirt. The tree matches the peacock feather-themed fabric of the custom-made window treatments.
A furry white runner crosses the table while two reindeer on either side of a gold “Merry Christmas” sign occupy the center of the table. Cloth napkins in silver snowflake rings rest on top of clear snowflake-sprinkled plates, and greenery and ornaments add holiday spirit to the overhead light fixture.
The dining room also includes recessed glass shelves with glass-front doors, and two pairs of columns separate the space from the living room and the kitchen.
An elf theme lends its magic to the kitchen, giving it a more whimsical personality than the elegant living and dining rooms. During the holidays, elf legs playfully dangle from two of the four chairs at the island. The Christmas tree features elf decorations as well as red and green ornaments, red berries, green boots and a black stovetop hat tree topper.
Christmas also comes to the island in the form of red snowflake-shaped placemats, and a vase full of gold and silver bells stands tall between the place settings. Poinsettia designs on the floor mats and dish towels add a splash of red, and greenery above the doors to the patio is decorated with Santas and a gold “Joy” sign.
The red décor offsets black appliances, island, granite countertops and a black marble backsplash, which matches the granite, in the kitchen.
Blending with the Décor
Pamela’s personality also shines in the blending of her decorations with the décor in the den and master bedroom.
In the den, her decorations are spot on as she picks up the leopard print theme of the room. The décor features a leopard print blanket and pillows, along with a mirror with a leopard frame. So naturally the base of the tree is wrapped in – what else? – a leopard-print tree skirt. The greenery above the doors to the back patio is accented with leopard bows, lights, elves and red and gold ornaments.
Santa Claus and a sleigh with greenery and lights sits on a table, and more greenery surrounds the television nook. A nativity scene on the coffee table captures the true spirit of the season.
Pamela also strikes the right note in the master bedroom, where a large cello-shaped storage unit provides space to keep CDs and DVDs year-round, by picking up on its music theme with the Christmas decor.
The predominantly red and black Christmas tree ornaments include pianos and other musical instruments, treble clefs, red balls and cardinals. A row of red candles nestled in greenery and a strand of music note ribbon line the dresser.
With or without holiday decorations, the master bedroom is a cozy space featuring a gas fireplace, trey ceiling, ceiling fan, four-poster bed and an oversized chaise lounge. In the adjoining master bath, which includes tile flooring, a jetted tub and a vanity on each side of the room, clothespins on a decorative board hold Christmas cards.
Upstairs, the house turns into a winter wonderland for the McCladdies’ six grandchildren.
The names of Santa’s reindeers are spelled out in red letters on the step risers to the second story, where the TV room tree has a deer-hunting theme. A stuffed snowman sits atop each step, and stockings hang from the railing.
Twinkling lights sparkle on a tree of silver and white in the study upstairs, and cookies on a plate, which includes the names of grandchildren Emma, Kingston and Dakota, await Santa Claus on a table topped with “snow.”
The tree in an upstairs bedroom features shoes, pocketbooks and leopard print and gold poinsettias.
Of course, the outdoors is aglow with Christmas finery as well. A lighted reindeer and sleigh, filled with lighted red packages, stand in the yard by a stack of lighted presents that spell “Joy.” Two small trees with Christmas lights sit on either side of the porch, and lion statues are dressed in red ribbons and greenery. “I love it when it’s lit up at night,” Pamela says.
She loves to shop, so she is always on the lookout for new decorations and new ideas. “Whenever I go out of town, I buy Christmas decorations,” she says. “This is the result of 20 years of accumulating decorations.”
Pamela also goes to the Augusta Ballet Holiday House Tour of Homes and the North Augusta Christmas Tour of Homes each year. “I like to go to home tours to get ideas,” she says.
James takes it all in stride. “I let her have her way,” he says. “She gets something new all the time.”
Decorating the house for Christmas isn’t the only tradition that the McCladdies enjoy during the holidays, however. Pamela, the youngest of eight children, always entertains her family and in-laws at their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Everyone brings a dish for Thanksgiving, but she makes Christmas dinner herself. She prepares ham, turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, butter beans, potato salad, peach cobbler and red velvet cake. However, Pamela says, “The main dish that everyone comes for is the chitlins.”
The family also includes Pamela’s daughter, Ebony Broadwater Whisenant, and James’ son, Delucus McCladdie, and their six grandchildren – four boys and two girls ranging in age from 3 to 11. The grandchildren open two gifts on Christmas Eve, and Santa leaves presents for the grandchildren under a different tree – one for the boys and one for the girls – each year.
“I like everything about Christmas. I like to give,” Pamela says. “I just enjoy the season.”
By Betsy Gilliland