By Emma Kent // Photos by Lauren Wood
Tamra Durham always enjoyed decorating, even when she was a teenager. Although she briefly worked as an interior decorator, she now puts those skills to work in her own home — especially for holidays, and not just Christmas.
Durham goes all out for every holiday, but she admits Christmas is her favorite. In mid-October, every room and surface of Durham’s Tupelo home includes a festive touch. She’s not in Christmas mode yet, though.
Fall is in the air at Durham’s home. The towering pumpkin topiaries and countless gourds, squash and pumpkins on her front porch are just an inkling of what’s inside. Through the front door, everything is autumn. There are plaid pillows in orange and gold hues, decorative pumpkins and turkeys, all kinds of apples and fall candles glowing softly among the decor.
There’s Thanksgiving china on the dining room table, and the breakfast table is set in similarly seasonal plates featuring falling leaves. She also has several sets of pilgrims standing on tables, dressers and trays, including her favorite pair: two particularly colorful pilgrims given to her by her sister.
This year, Durham decorated more than usual for fall and Thanksgiving because she’s hosting her family’s holiday festivities. Come Nov. 22, she’ll have a house full with her children and grandchildren visiting from out of town.
“They don’t come home for Thanksgiving very often, so I’m doing more than I normally do,” Durham said.
She really wants those visits to be special for her grandchildren, so that they’ll have fond memories of the time they spent at her house. In fact, some of Durham’s favorite memories from her own childhood include decorating the house for Christmas with a tree her family went out to cut down themselves.
“I think it’s very important to make memories with children and grandchildren,” she said. “I try to make it fun for them.”
Durham and her husband both retired from their jobs with the American Family Association last year. Now, they have plenty of time to spend decorating for each holiday.
“He thinks I go a little overboard, but he’s a good sport about it and he helps me quite a bit,” she said of her husband.
She got into decorating partially because her mother owned a flower shop, which Durham said taught her to love pretty things and to have fun with them at home.
“My sister and I both learned a lot about decorating from her,” she said of her mother.
Durham has collected quite a few decorations over the years, especially for Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. She’s still adding to her arsenal, though, and she buys new decorations each year when she finds them on sale or sees something that really catches her eye.
“I shouldn’t, but I do,” she said. Even the morning we visited her home in October, she had been to Hobby Lobby to pick up a few more pieces of fall decor. “I just love it.”