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When my father was a little boy, he lived in a small charming house in a beautiful neighborhood of large, exquisite old Victorian homes. So stately, so handsome, with incredible craftsmanship and detail, they seemed to be lounging back with their impeccable lawns spread out before them. Except for one, of course. There is always one, isn’t there? The Pickel house gave new meaning to the word “eyesore”. Ramshackle and rundown (and not in a charming way), its shutters drooped, its paint peeled, its porch sagged and Mr. Karbuncle Pickel could not have cared less. The lawn was overgrown with poison ivy and weeds and strewn with trash, a family of skunks had taken up residence under the front stairs and the whole place gave off a disturbing and mysterious vinegar stench. To make matters worse, Mr. Pickel was just plain mean. He chased cats off his lawn with a BB gun, glared out his window at kids playing in the street and slammed his door in the faces of nice old ladies soliciting for the Orphaned Children’s Fund.
As bad as he was all year, Christmas made him a hundred times worse. People came from all over to see the beautiful houses dressed up in their glittering holiday finery, and there was Karbuncle Pickel crouching in his house and glowering darkly, demanding that the constable disperse the crowds. He complained that the lights were too bright, the traffic too dense and when carolers came, well, he reached for his hose. He hated Christmas more than anyone has ever hated Christmas, before or since. Well, good things come to an end all too soon, but even bad things do too, eventually. Mr. Pickel expired, possibly from terminal Unpleasantness, and irony of ironies, on Christmas Eve morning. People felt bad that they didn’t feel worse, and then rushed about their holiday business.
My father snuck out late that night to leave a dish of potato chips for the skunks – he was like that even as a kid, my dad – and what he saw that night he would never forget. By the light of a full Christmas moon, he saw that the Pickel house was entirely transformed. Completely restored to its original splendor, the paint was fresh, the windows were clean and unbroken, beautiful golden trim sparkled, resplendent, in the moonlight and a Christmas tree – a Christmas tree! – with a shimmering star on top, had planted itself in front of the porch. Although he was a bit frightened, my father could not help but move a bit closer, and when he did, he heard, coming from inside the house, Christmas music! So beautiful! And one by one, the lights in the house began to come on, and in each window he could glimpse ghosts of festive Christmases past, Christmases long before old Mr. Pickel darkened this lovely house’s door. Beautiful ladies in antique furs, excited children trimming a tree inside, and up on the roof good ol’ St. Nick was wrestling a giant candy cane down the chimney! Oh it was something else, it was! And as my father stood rooted to the spot, potato chips gently falling from his hand, it began to snow. Now you may think that, compared with everything else that happened, the snow was barely worth mentioning until you consider that my father grew up in Monterrey, California. As he gazed up at the first snowflakes he’d ever seen heading for his nose, a snowman with a pipe and a jaunty hat materialized beside the front steps.
He had no idea how long he stood there, but as he made his way home to go to bed, he did so with the full knowledge that he would wake up in the morning having dreamt the whole thing, so he resolved to tell no one. But my father didn’t have to tell anyone because everyone could see the house. It stayed that way for years, Christmas everyday, snow, Santa, the whole bit. It was as if the ghosts of that beautiful house had been kept from their festivities for so long that they resolved to have Christmas, non-stop, until they tired of it, and that is exactly what they did.

Mr. Pickel’s Holiday House and the ghosts of Christmases past are pictured in this 8” x 10” x ¾” original collage which is executed on an antiqued hand painted stretched canvas using hand printed, hand cut and hand assembled vintage images, gilded art paper and is accented with Dresden trim. Sparkling crystals and a miniature candy cane accent the piece which is backed with beautiful, heavyweight art paper,signed and fitted with hanging hardware. The sides are fully finished with cream satin ribbon embellished with golden stars. For the holidays or to enjoy year-round, this very detailed piece simply glows. Insurance included in shipping price.

This original artwork and story are copyright Ramona Szczerba 2008. Copyright to this material is in no way transferable with the sale of this item. The buyer is not entitled to any reproduction rights – neither image nor story can be reproduced without my express written permission. Thanks!

Enchanted Holiday House


Only 1 available


  • Materials: canvas, vintage images, gold foil trim, art paper, crystals, brads, satin ribbon
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 164 reviews
  • Favorited by: 34 people