Nutcrackers, shepherds, Santas galore and what might be the biggest indoor tree in St. Helena – it’s Christmas at Vintage Home.

It took nine people more than two full days to set up the store’s lavish Christmas display. Three staffers spent eight hours setting up the Christmas tree alone.

Proprietor Laura Rombauer has been creating the scene for 14 or 15 years, but she never gets tired of it. Neither do customers, judging from the revenue the store has brought in since the display went up at the end of October.

“It’s always a big part of our business, and this could potentially be a record year for us,” Rombauer said.

Locals and tourists might be particularly drawn to Christmas merchandise this year because they’re “tired of all the negative news – not just the fires, but in general, nationally and internationally,” Rombauer said.

“I think people are ready to hunker down with their families to celebrate family and celebrate the holidays,” she said. “I know I feel that way.”

Of all the Christmas merchandise on display, Rombauer is most proud of the wood ornaments, smokers, nutcrackers and pyramids imported from Germany and handmade by artisans who carry on a tradition going back 100 years.

“We’re all about the authenticity, and we’ve been buying from a couple of German vendors for many years,” she said.

“They’re heirloom quality, the kind of holiday item you pass on to the next generation.”

Rombauer said the ornaments remind her of her childhood, when her family would buy German-made Christmas décor from Cost Plus.

“It’s very nostalgic for me – it’s something that was popular 30 or 40 years ago and still is today,” she said, adding that a lot of modern mass-produced Christmas décor is disappointingly faddish and crassly commercial.

Rombauer is also fond of the hand-painted chalk figurines made by Vaillancourt Folk Art, a Massachusetts couple who use antique German chocolate molds.

“A lot of locals buy one every year to add to their collection, and they’re just so beautifully painted,” she said.

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St. Helena Reporter

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.