GROWING up in a modest suburb of Pennsylvania, Mary Kartesz-Wardroper and her eight siblings didn’t have a lot.
Their parents couldn’t afford birthday presents or novelty treats throughout the year but when December 25 arrived, they spared no expense.
“At Christmas, we got everything we ever dreamed of and that’s something I’ll always remember,” Mrs Kartesz-Wardroper said.
“My dad would go and borrow money and we just had an unbelievable time.
“We didn’t know anything until Christmas morning when we woke up and it was all there – we didn’t stop believing in Santa until we were teenagers!”
Mrs Kartesz-Wardroper has taken that childhood joy and fascination with the big day into adulthood.
Each year, she decorates her entire Meadow Springs home – even the toilet – in remarkable festive cheer.
The planning is year long, with decorations going up as early as August.
People come from far and wide to view her home and garden at night from the first weekend in December to January 8.
And it’s not just families with kids who visit – adults come alone, including the elderly: even Japanese tourists stop for a peep.
“It’s just a good feeling and Christmas is about giving,” Mrs Kartesz-Wardroper said.
“I enjoy opening up the house and giving a little bit of pleasure to people.
“Some leave in tears as our display often brings back memories of their childhood.”
Last year, Mrs Kartesz-Wardroper and her husband raised $11,500 for K9 Rescue Group and won the Synergy Christmas Lights Trail People’s Choice award.
The display includes close to 500 Christmas trees, including a barbie tree, dog tree and dolphin tree as well as sentimental handmade pieces dating back 50 years.
This year, it features new trees as well as a winter scene inside and a huge sleigh outside.
Mrs Kartesz-Wardroper came to Australia for love, after meeting her Australian husband playing bridge on the Internet.
“He goes along with whatever I want,” she joked.
“I don’t think too many would put up with this!”