Dressed in a bright, red Santa Claus shirt, Santa Claus slippers and a Santa Claus necklace hanging around her neck, Lisa Ping sits in a small room surrounded by hundreds of figurines -- all Santa Claus themed.
Five coats of shiny, red paint cover the walls. Stencils of snowflakes are scattered throughout the room, too. A Christmas tree is tucked in the corner, adorned solely with Santa Claus ornaments. And there sits Ping, among her Santa Claus collection with a smile on her face.
"I can sit in here and look for hours," she said.
Ping estimated her Santa Claus collection at around 350 items.
"It's quite a passion of mine," said Ping, who's been collecting Santa Claus figurines for 24 years.
"There's just something about Santa that makes me want to buy them," Ping said. "I just love them."
After her daughter Haley left for college in August of 2007, Ping wasted no time and converted Haley's room into her Santa room. By September, the room was finished.
Ping said she keeps the room the same year-round. Even the Christmas tree stays up all year. Ping said it's a relaxing place where she can sit and listen to her Christmas music.
Ping's collection is extensive. She has Santa Claus salt and pepper shakers, stuffed Santas, books about Santa, even musical Santa Claus figurines.
Ping's mother had a frog collection when she was growing up, which she said inspired her to start her own collection.
Ping also collects snowmen, but said that collection doesn't come close in comparison to her Santa Claus collection.
But just any Santa figurine won't do for Ping. She said the item has to have a character about it. When it does have that special something, Ping said she can never resist.
"I see one and I have to buy it."
Ping has recently been interested in finding vintage Santa pieces. She said the Salvation Army is a great place to find them. E-Bay is another useful tool for finding her figurines, she said.
For Ping, there's no better time of the year than the Christmas season.
"It's a good time of year," she said. "If it could be year-round, I'd love it."
Though all three of Ping's daughters think her Santa room is "creepy," Ping said she enjoys her room with her grandchildren.
"It's special," she said. "It brings back good memories. I just want to carry it on for my grandkids."
Mike Nesper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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