Hoover home defines wonder of holiday season


Debbie Hoover isn’t sure when she and husband Scott started decorating their home so lavishly for Christmas. “I can’t really remember how this insanity started,” she said. “We started with one tree, then two, and so on, and so on.”

Christmas decorating starts immediately after Thanksgiving and continues for two weeks in the Hoover household. Family members, including grandchildren, climb into the attic to move decorations, and anyone who helps then signs and dates an attic board.

“When we’re gone from the house, I hope whoever lives here will wonder what we were doing,” Debbie said. “When all the boxes are removed from the attic, it looks like a bomb went off. I’m up all hours of the night when I can’t sleep, so I work then.” 

With as many as 15 Christmas trees, the Hoovers keep one constant: the living room. Debbie’s parents handed down this tree’s colored lights and ornaments; Debbie’s father bought many decorations in Germany while serving in the military.

Each tree has its own theme. A kitchen tree has homemade cinnamon ornaments, gingerbread people and kitchen tools. A few trees are devoted to the grandchildren. “Our family tree in the den has all ornaments we’ve gathered over 41 years of marriage,” Debbie said. This tree features Debbie’s baby shoes and their sons’ first pairs, a tradition from Debbie’s grandfather. Other trees change year to year, and Santa always hides the legendary “pickle gift” for grandchildren to find Christmas morning.

Scott and Debbie’s parents and grandparents donated keepsakes like Nativity sets. The Hoover sons have gifted snow villages. Debbie collects vintage porcelain angels. “It’s nice looking at them and remembering all our loved ones. I hope my children will carry on the traditions once I’m too old,” Debbie said. An all-time favorite ornament is a clear glass ball wrapped in gold garland from Debbie’s parents.

For live greenery, Debbie relies on magnolia, pine and nandina. The wraparound porch, screened porch and front lawn’s theme changes yearly – even boasting red-and-lime Japanese hanging lanterns on year.

On Christmas Eve, Scott and Debbie place all gifts under the family tree and fill stockings. On Christmas morning, the sons’ families open Santa’s gifts at their homes and then drive to Scott and Debbie’s around 10 a.m. for breakfast foods, mimosas, eggnog and juices.

“Opening gifts is chaotic but a lot of fun. Having all the grandchildren makes it the best,” Debbie said. “Every year I say, ‘This is the last year I’m doing all this,’ and every year my family says, ‘No, she will do it next year.’”

Scott and Debbie moved to Madison in May 1987 after he accepted a job and declined another offer in Augusta, Georgia. Debbie said she remembers originally saying, “‘I’ll go anywhere you want, but I’m not going to Alabama.’ Boy, it was the best thing that could have happened to our family; as you can tell, we love Alabama and especially Madison.”

Debbie works as a nurse with the Veterans Administration. She also does event planning, directs weddings and decorates for showers and homes for the holidays. About 25 years ago, Scott founded his own business, PMI – Predictive Maintenance Inspection. The Hoovers have three sons and seven grandchildren: David Hoover and wife Rachel of New Market are parents of Serena, 18, Kayla, 16, Ethan, 12, and Emily, 9; Ryan Hoover and wife Brittany live in Madison with children Preston, 10, and Riley, 8; and Dustin Hoover and wife Adriana of Madison are parents of 5-month-old Stevie.