When they first married, Patty and Roland Tague’s Christmas decorations were minimal. A live tree stood in the window, a few wreaths dotted the doors, and fresh garland covered the mantel. However, decorating traditions—much like love—can evolve and grow with time. Today, their Crown Heights home showcases quite the evergreen scene.
“I’ve been using the live greenery since I moved in 30 years ago,” Patty said, “always live greenery, and always more and more every year.”
The Christmas tree and wreaths came first. In the years that followed, she added garland to the mantel; then the stairs. (Patty stores garland strands in the cool garage to preserve them until the week of Christmas.) Then, flowers entered the decorating tradition as she combined noble fir and pine branches with paperwhite narcissus on the dining room buffet. Five years ago, she added evergreen branches to the chandelier. And two years ago, she twisted garland around the burl wood bedposts in the master bedroom upstairs.
“I love the process, and it’s really well worth it when it’s finished. You can just enjoy,” Patty said. “It’s very creative, and I don’t feel like I can be creative in my regular life very often—so it gives me an outlet for creativity.”
Roland and Patty agree their abundantly decorated home evokes feelings of familiarity, warmth, and nostalgia every year. It reminds them of family gatherings, as well as their wedding day: The two will celebrate 31 years together on Dec. 15.
“Every year on the fifteenth, in the late afternoon and evening, we’ll repeat our vows under the tree,” Patty said. “We’ll read the marriage service from the Episcopal prayer book. After that we have champagne, open gifts, and go to dinner.”
The Tagues met through a mutual friend—someone Patty grew up with in Dallas who had moved to Oklahoma City and knew Roland well.
“I said, ‘Get that girl from Dallas up here,’” Roland recalls telling his friend.
Their first date was in June. They became engaged three months later. They married that December, just six months after they met.
“It turned out the way I had hoped it would turn out,” Roland said with a smile.
“When we met, we had so much commonality,” Patty said. Roland and Patty were each married previously. Roland has three children; Patty has four. “We had the same friends, we knew the same people, and we both love to dance. We like the same things—the same music, décor, what we do with our time. Everything just fit like a puzzle. We’ve laughed about how well we fit together. It’s crazy.”
To the Tagues, Christmas is about the Frasier fir with its leggy branches overflowing with ornaments, sharing family meals, baking the same sweets, and attending midnight mass at All Souls Episcopal Church. Other Christmas traditions reveal themselves in various decorations throughout the home. The entryway contains a bowl of sugar plums. Patty’s friend taught her how, and now she makes them every year. Another friend gave the Tagues a poinsettia several years ago. Today, one of the den’s staple decorations is a large basket filled with ten large poinsettias, the bright red leaves spilling over the sides. Another meaningful decoration is the collection of Wallace silver bells grouped together in the dining room.
“I’ve collected one every year since my son was born in 1978,” Patty said. “Every year I get one, so I have a ton of them.”
Perhaps the most longstanding tradition is displayed on the kitchen table. There, balancing on an antique French scale from the 1800s, you will see pomander balls. Patty’s grandmother taught her how to make them, and the sight (and spicy-fruity smell) honors generations past.
“My grandmother always used them in her closet as a sachet in the old days,” Patty said. “She would cover an orange or apple completely with cloves, and then she’d hang it with a satin ribbon and put in her closet. It would last for a year.”
The large windows make the kitchen a favorite room, providing ample light and warmth in the winter.
“I love the fanlights above the windows,” Patty said. “It’s really nice because you can look up and out and see the tops of trees and the sky.”
The Tagues added the windows and fanlights when they expanded the kitchen in 1998 and incorporated the screened-in back porch into the space. They selected a durable, deep-green serpentine stone for the countertops. Considering the green master bedroom walls and the increasing bundle of evergreens they bring into their home every December, it’s no surprise that green is Patty’s favorite color.
Though the kitchen required renovation, the rest of the 1930s home has remained intact—exactly as the Tagues desire. (Roland became the second owner when he purchased the home 48 years ago.) With a love of history, Patty and Roland have furnished their home with antiques and heirloom furniture.
“We have an appreciation for the old days, well-built furniture and the craftsmanship from another time—it’s so much better than a lot of it today,” Patty said. “We’re very traditional people. We love tradition. We love history.”
The Tagues will soon make a toast to this Christmas together, celebrating both years past and the years to come … with more greenery to hang together.