When it comes to celebrating Christmas, Sandra and Bob Eason keep it traditional.
Their Mid-City home sets the perfect background for red and green decorations, tall Christmas trees and of course the Easons’ children and grandchildren who arrive to celebrate the season. The house is more than 80 years old, and it has retained most of its structural features from the time it was built, particularly the solarium windows, which Sandra says provide a fabulous view of the Endymion parade as it rolls right outside their house on Canal Street.
The property has housed some interesting residents — including the family rumored to have inspired the K&B drugstore chain and a doctor known for his interest in Mardi Gras lore — as well as a number of businesses and, most recently, a substance abuse clinic. Besides updating the kitchen after moving in, the Easons felt it was important to retain as many of the home’s original features as possible. The house has the structural integrity of homes built during that time, and it contains oak and mahogany floors, bathroom tiles in impeccable condition and a storied past.
“You need to retain that history here in New Orleans,” Sandra says. “We’re very lucky to be able to live in this house and take care of it.”
The Easons — both retired from staff positions at the University of New Orleans — have kept their home traditional, and their holiday celebrations are similar.
Every year around Thanksgiving, Bob and Sandra begin the daunting task of decorating their entire home. The Christmas trees delivered from The Plant Gallery signal the beginning of decorating season, perhaps because the trees fill their home with the smell of fresh pine. “It really requires hustling,” Sandra says of the decorating process.
The Easons order two trees: one to place near the solarium windows and the other for their sunroom. The tree in the solarium is more of a decorative tree, covered in colorful lights and ornaments. Visitors can see the tree in the sunroom glowing at the end of the hallway through the beveled glass front door, which has a Christmas wreath on it. The sunroom tree is particularly significant because it is decorated with ornaments from travels around the U.S. and Europe, as well as ornaments from children and grandchildren. Sandra says one of her favorite things about decorating that tree is that each ornament brings back a memory. “I love putting
the ornaments on the tree and remembering what they are,” she says. “They’re sentimental little things.”
Sandra has a wide variety of favorite ornaments. She loves her New Orleans-themed ornaments, such as a Cajun angel and a ceramic streetcar — especially since the Easons are glad to see the Canal Street streetcar rolling by on a regular basis. She has crystal ornaments, a collection of different types of Santas, a Lenox reindeer, a teddy bear that was on a present at her eldest son’s baby shower and an ornament she made out of a goose egg that “still hasn’t broken.”
The home exudes extra warmth during the holidays with a large nutcracker that greets visitors, candles and pine cones on the mantel and around the house, Christmas stockings that Sandra needlepoints and lots of Christmas music. “That’s the only thing I play [during the holiday season],” Sandra says. She even starts using her Christmas dishes on Dec. 1 to get into the holiday spirit.
The Easons usually have a big party to celebrate the holidays and bring the entire family together. One of Bob and Sandra’s favorite things about Christmas is being in the kitchen with everyone, and they do a lot of cooking. On Christmas morning, Sandra makes sausage pinwheels and cranberry-nut bread like her mother used to make on that day, and Bob makes corn maque choux using chef Paul Prudhomme’s recipe, as well as turkey and other traditional items.
During the day, the family plays football or works on the several jigsaw puzzles they have in progress. At dinner, they always read the Christmas story. One of the most special things about the holidays is spending time with family. “We have a special, loving family,” Sandra says.
“We’re very fortunate.”
With sentimental decorations and family gatherings, the Easons have a lot to look forward to as Christmas approaches.
“Christmas is a really special time for me,” Sandra says. “It makes me smile to even think of it.”