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Two hundred and one.

That’s how many nutcrackers Don and Caroline O’Berg have amassed in their Columbus home throughout the past three years. When it comes to the holiday season, the couple goes all out.

“I just really like nutcrackers, and I thought it would be a fun thing. I didn’t intend to actually collect them,” Caroline O’Berg said.

But slowly, her number of nutcrackers grew and grew. Caroline would buy these holiday decorations at various garage sales, thrift shops and convenience stores. And once her five kids and 27 grandchildren got word of her guilty pleasure, the collection grew exponentially.

“When I see them in a store, I can’t resist,” Caroline O’Berg said. “And of course, once I got a collection going, that’s what I get from my kids for birthdays and Christmas.”

The nutcrackers are an enjoyable novelty for Caroline. She said she appreciates the uniqueness of some of them, such as the Disney and animal-themed examples in her collection.

“They represent a lot of different things," Caroline O’Berg said. "I have just about every job you can think of. I have farmers, I have sheriffs, football players, hunters, snowmen - I just think it’s fun. And I really like the unusual ones."

Aside from the nutcrackers, the O’Bergs have two other holiday-themed collections that they break out each year. On a wall in their home, Don displays 20 years worth of photos depicting him as Santa Claus with each of his grandkids. With 11 great-grandkids and two more on the way, the tradition won’t be ending anytime soon.

But the crown jewel of the O'Berg's holiday decor, hands down, is their miniature model town. The plastic city includes an animal preserve, carnival, farm, train depot, movie theater and a frozen lake ice skating rink.

“It started on that dining room table, and it just took off from there,” Don O’Berg said about the model town on Thursday from inside his home.

Don said it takes three days to fully put together the model town. Caroline O'Berg said she enjoys waking up each morning and gazing upon their creation. The duo has continued adding on to their collection for about 17 years, with no signs of slowing down.

“It’s fun to find things, but what I really like about this is to sit in the morning with the lights out and have my coffee and just sit here and just look,” Caroline O’Berg said.

Although there’s a lot of work that goes into unpacking over 40 totes from storage filled with indoor Christmas decorations, the O’Bergs said it’s worth the effort.

“When you’re retired, you have a lot of time,” Caroline said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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