The Dooleys: Family shares love of holiday decorating

by Don Bingham

The holidays at the Dooley residence in Conway rival the Jennings Osborne residence in extravagance!

Beginning Nov. 1, all the fall decorations go up to the attic, and all the cases and cases of Christmas decorations take their place in the garage warehouse for assembly.

Mike Kemp photos.

Six of the Dooley family members begin the “larger than life” delight of decorating most of the 14 rooms of their home — beginning with the 25 Christmas trees! Each family member has their own favorites – their theme that has been a collection point for many years – and each one is responsible for the assembly and decorations for their own personal and favorite trees.

Some of the decorations have been handed down for generations. The true story is told of the time during the Depression when mother Nina’s parents sold their home (furnishings and all) in Michigan and moved to the South. The things that were most valuable were placed in the car upon moving – they were the record player and the Christmas decorations.

The themes include “The 1950s,” “The Blue and White” tree, “The Candy Room,” “The Kings Tree” and “The Nature Room.” All through the house, from the new to the old, there are myriads of colors and lights and things to see!

Bart took all the oldest ornaments, the more fragile ones due to age and materials, and made a large wreath, full of memories from their years of Christmas decorating, dating back to the grandparents’ decorating days. It is only one of the many wreaths throughout the house.

Then there’s the display of glassware, china, cups and saucers, platters and kitchen-related gifts given through the years by students who were taught by Nina and other school teachers in the family. Many of the china pieces will play host to the hundreds of Christmas goodies that are offered to guests during a Christmas open house.

One will not be able to overlook the outside of the home — as the grounds are almost as bejeweled as the inside! The choice decoration, however, is the nativity scene – a near life-size antique set that has been repainted, restored and enhanced with texture and jewels. The set belonged to a grandmother and has been handed down through the Christmas seasons by the Dooley family.

The Dooleys are known for their musical ability and have numerous CDs, travel on a regular basis and currently support Renewal Ranch with their musical ministry. It is not uncommon to hear them singing around the piano nightly during the holiday season!

Recipe hunting begins early on, deciding what will be cooked and presented on all that Christmas china. New additions are added every season. This year, “The Nature Room” promises to take on a new look.

The saying, “Where your heart is, there will be your treasure also,” applies in so many ways to the Dooley family; their faith, their love for music and ministry and their combined love for Christmas are a rare find!