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The Nutcracker House

The Nutcracker House
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The 1811 Federalist home of Linda and Richard Harvey, bordered by a white picket fence trimmed with fresh green roping and red ribbons, looks like it should be in a giant snow globe. What clearly distinguishes this Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, house from its neighbors is that the wreaths and outdoor arrangements are handmade by Linda. Her palette includes a variety of greens, pinecones, and fruit — from pineapples and pomegranates to apples, lemons, and walnuts. But passersby have no idea what she has created inside to celebrate this family’s favorite holiday.

Over the years, it has not been unusual to see as many as four trees in the Harvey home, each with its own color scheme, boughs hung heavy with unusual ornaments. Since 1970, when the couple was first married, Linda has immersed herself in perfecting holiday decorations. She works room by room, tree by tree, her colorful vignettes providing the perfect backdrop for the family’s beloved collection of handmade German nutcrackers.

These one-of-a-kind pieces by renowned names such as Seiffener, Steinbach, and the three-generation family business Christian Ulbricht stand sentry throughout the home, adorning tabletops, desktops, and mantels. Larger pieces stand on the floor.

It took just two nutcrackers to get Linda and Richard hooked during their first Christmas together. “We saw them in a gift store and thought they were fun, interesting, and different. You didn’t see a lot of them then,” Linda says. She was captivated.

From that year forward, it became a mission to find new nutcrackers from different German manufacturers to add to the collection. When sons Justin and Jared were old enough to choose their own, they joined in the hunt.

Today the Harveys own more than 100, with just one duplicate. Nutcracker characters range from firemen and soldiers to Santas, skiers, and even hockey players. Most are about a foot high, with the largest standing at 3 feet tall.

As one would guess, Linda and Richard’s all-time favorites are the first two they purchased. Those nutcrackers are given a place of honor on the family room mantel, kept company by others from the Harveys’ growing collection. Each Christmas season, Linda enjoys the challenge of artfully arranging the nutcrackers with her handmade decorations to set a new scene throughout the house.

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