At the Lonergan home, Santa's eyes are watching; all 3,000 or more of them.
Emily Lonergan, a lifelong Harlem resident, is the proud owner of some 1,500 figurines, decorative plates, Christmas ornaments and other collectables bearing the image of Old St. Nick.
"I've always loved Santa," she said.
Lonergan said she began collecting Santas about 25 years ago. Many of the collectable plates and finely detailed figurines, including a Norman Rockwell Santa smoking a pipe that reminds Lonergan of her late father, are displayed year-round.
She even has a framed letter to Santa her father wrote in 1924 and framed letters her children wrote in 1976 and 1981.
Lonergan has numbered 400 of the finer Santa figurines and included them in a book with the names of the friends or family members who gave them to her. Her daughter, Kathy Arrowood, made the conservative estimate of 1,500 Santas that fill her mother's home.
"(It's) about 1,500, from homemade to Hallmark," Arrowood said.
Lonergan said she and Mickey, her husband of 38 years, begin decorating for Christmas in November and that the collections fill a 12-foot-by-25-foot storage area behind their home.
"I've always had Santas, and all of the sudden I was collecting (them)," Lonergan said. Her oldest Santa is a small 60-year-old figurine whose red coat has faded to auburn through the years.
Santas appear at every turn inside her home.
The collection includes Santas in sleighs, Santas in trains, Santas playing the violin and in the bathroom, Santas in outhouses and in showers.
Lonergan said her 4-year-old granddaughter, Katy Arrowood, thinks Santa should have a little more privacy in the bathroom. Each time Katy goes into the bathroom, she closes the outhouse and shower door for Santa.
"'You have got to leave the door closed,'" Lonergan recalled her granddaughter saying. "'Santa does not want the door open.'"
She also collects Disney Christmas ornaments, Christmas village figurines and angel ornaments.
The Lonergans have four Christmas trees in their home: a formal tree in the den that is decorated with angels, a Disney ornament tree in the kitchen, a tree for the children in the den and a tree with all her other various ornaments in a bedroom.
"My wife has a gold card at Hallmark," Mickey Lonergan said with a smile.
One might think finding a Christmas present for his wife might be a simple prospect, but he said she has most of the figurines and ornaments that are sold at area stores.
He said he and his family have exhausted the options in many stores and catalogues, and many of the Santas come from trips taken out of state.
"She likes faces that are realistic and she likes the expression to fit the mood of the statues whether it's a solemn scene or a happy scene," he said.
Mickey Lonergan is a collector himself, owning about 50 Nativity scenes.
"This is what I associate with Christmas," he said. "This is the Christ child and this is the real meaning of Christmas."
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