The Christmas spirit is alive and well in one Killeen residence.
Maria Kaaa, 76, a German native who has lived in her home for more than 40 years, goes all-out for the holiday season. Each room in Kaaa’s house has a theme.
“I just love Christmas,” she said. “My friends all think I’m crazy, but I don’t ask anybody for help.”
The decorating begins in the fall, and the festive ornamentation will remain up into the new year, as Kaaa observes Three Kings Day, a holiday that marks the biblical adoration of baby Jesus by the three kings, on Jan. 6.
“I like to put it up, but I’m not crazy about taking it down,” she said.
Her bedroom themes include angels, snowmen and tiny, decorative houses, but the real display is in Kaaa’s den, where she maintains her collectable items.
One wall is covered in antique spoons, another boasting countless metal pencil sharpeners.
Her newest collectable item — horses.
But Kaaa’s favorite collection consists of bells.
A few came from a now-defunct Killeen flower shop where she purchased them in 1981.
As she walked around her home, her tiny dogs Dolly and Angel close behind, Kaaa pointed out various items, reliving the moment she received each as she retold the stories behind the gifts.
“When people know you like Christmas, they give you things,” she said.
A Bavarian bell represents the German homeland Kaaa left behind decades ago. Others stand out as gifts from her three children and three granddaughters.
Longtime friend Erna English described Kaaa’s house as “gorgeous.”
“She puts a lot of work and time into it,” English said. The women met more than 30 years ago, bonding over their shared heritage. “Christmas is something special in Germany,” English said.
On Christmas Eve, Kaaa will attend midnight Mass at St. Paul Chong Hasang Catholic Church in Harker Heights.
She is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, too — it is where her husband of 25 years is buried.
“I decorate his grave, too,” she said. Kaaa often bakes cookies for the groundskeepers to ensure her husband’s final resting place is well cared for.
“I’m picky,” she said with a laugh.