A True Worcester Wonderland

images by joe gonzalez-dufresne

Decorating for the holidays is always a daunting task. Let's face it, for some, it is a compelling mission. For the others, it's like hearing a Tchiacovsky play himself, cranked to 11 with sugar plum fairies buzzing around. No matter how it gets done, the results can really be transformative. We thought about the effect that decor and holiday decorating has on a person, a family, guests and neighbors. We considered showcasing what we thought was enchanting and classic holiday. We found just the Worcester home. What is it about the decorative spirit? To be clear, there are different styles of decorating of course. As we drive around the city, it is evident that some folks really know how to embrace their inner Dorothy Draper, where bold colors, elegance, cheer and life are celebrated. 

Many of us are challenged when it comes to decorating for many reasons. It is definitely a gift. With littles in your home, seasonal decorating can be a tug-of-war between what they see as crazy fun decor and a little off the mark. Gifted items from Nana like that blow up Simba in a Santa hat was just never coming out of the box. Some parents are indeed that cruel. We won't get into family dynamics, but I think many can relate. White lights or colored, for example? Instead of those store-bought tragedies, trudging through two feet of ice encrusted snow into the recesses of an acre filled with pines was our idea of delight. Foraging for holiday greens, combining different textures and colors. We admit, the first time this was done, money was tight and a visit to Pleasant Nursury to spend $100 on greens was not a choice. It was fun and it never stopped after that! Alas, we are all not built that way.

So, challenges, where shall we start? Color, style, character--somehow no matter what we purchase, inherit, collect or are gifted, the result will be an eclectic combination of how we already style our home. Worcester really has it going on if you take a moment to notice. 

Each season we see many of the same homes beautifully enhanced by thoughtful touches. Every one of them achieving this in different ways. Some are erected by hired pros, but others are carefully curated for every season no matter size of the budget. When the holidays arrive, this jubilant neighbor does not disappoint. That day they bring out their big boxes, we all recognize what time it is and the inevitable must happen. The attics, garages and crawl spaces come alive! They are decor influencers in many ways. It is contagious!

Driving down Forest Street, you have clear views up the side streets. Old Worcester intelligently and elegantly fashioned grand street entires like these and like some of our favorites in the Burncoat Street neighborhood, where 100 year old stone pillars were built for the farms and orchards that once stood there. Between the West Side and the North Side lies Forest, connecting Salisbury to Grove, it is one of the most lovely and convenient neighborhoods in all of Worcester. One side street is Hancock Hill Drive. Bill Wallace of the Worcester Historical Museum confirmed that it was named after Thomas Hancock. The uncle of the "other dude", John Hancock, who inherited the property from his uncle. Well, if you must know he was hanging around Worcester with a bunch of rabble rousers, starting revolutions, signing Declarations of Independence, and well, creating and protecting our future in these United States. Think of that! When you look up this beautiful street that is Hancock Hill Drive, you see among the sparkles of light, one lit tree so stunning that the glow almost warms you instantly. This is important, because the night we visited it was 14 degrees out. Turning up the road, you notice the other beautiful homes and decorations, but the giant wreaths and front porch of this particular home invite much attention. You feel like you are transported to Bedford Falls and Clarence may be standing right behind that front door in his trusty LL Bean slippers, holding a scotch, waiting to school you on the principles of being present.

The producers and directors of this wonderful holiday home are Michael Marzo and Michael Prizio, two very fun Worcester guys with some serious decorating skills, inspired by their Italian upbringing, nostalgia, travel as well as new trends. With a neighborhood and friends looking forward to their decor from year to year, they have to bring it each time. With only a couple days of advanced warning, Joe Gonzalez-Dufresne and I stopped by and we were captivated by the handmade wreaths, antique decorations from their favorite shop in Princeton and the nostalgic stories of Sharfman's at Worcester Center, Pucci's, the El Morocco, Tavern on the Green in NYC, $6 prints from Denholms, visits to cousins in Newburyport, and in the true Worcester way, realizing we have people in common. One special setting in the yard also caught our eye. There was a gorgeous urn of florals lit on top of the resting place of their dear dog. Everything was thought of.  I love that you can put a post out on Facebook and a couple days later, be force fed delicious spiced gum drops on the sofa of a stranger admiring their Waterford sleigh in front of a roaring fire, built just for you. We love this city! Ironically, I have always noticed this tree outside their home. I have looked forward to it every year. Sadly, Michael said that it may be it's last year. If timing is everything, we are really happy that we had the chance to shine the light on it this year! 

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