Their First Christmas Tree

by Robin Turnipseed

It is a rainy Thanksgiving evening when I follow Ansley McGukin up the sidewalk to the cottage that she and her new husband, Jackson, call home. The shades are open, and their Christmas tree is centered in the front window as if keeping an active watch for their return. I had yet to see the couple’s new home, so when Ansley offered a tour, I eagerly jumped on the invitation.

Newly Married and Newly Relocated

Ansley and Jackson were married this past June. Shortly after their wedding, an internship transferred them from Alabama to Colorado, where they spent their summer. However, when the job came to an end, the couple needed to make a move. That is when a providential sighting brought them right back to their hometown, where they immediately started making the quaint bungalow their own.

As Ansley begins the tour, I trail behind her, noting specific detailing, such as antique doorknobs, the exposed brick around the fireplace, and the size and shape of the cabinetry doors in the kitchen and bathroom. These details add charm and character, and I sense that this home is older than I initially thought. I adore older homes, so I am excited to learn more about its backstory.

I sit down with Ansley to get the scoop:

PPT: Ok, so I love these little details around the house. The doors, the hardware, the cabinets, they are all so lovely. Do you know the history of this home?

Ansley: I don’t know the complete background history, but I know it was built in 1945. It is around 1,000 sq ft. Funny story, our landlord lived in this house for a long time, and I believe it was eight years before he decided to turn it into a rental property. His first tenants were another newlywed couple. What is funny about that is that the couple was the long-term nanny for my cousin’s kids! I didn’t realize this until I kept getting her mail. So weird and cool!

PPT: How funny! What a small world. So, I know that you all were away for a time. How did you even find this place?

Ansley: We were not the ones that found it at all! This house is down the street from my aunt’s house, and my mom and aunt found it while they were out on one of their walks. Jackson and I were still living in Colorado. We didn’t even see it live until we moved. My mom FaceTimed me while I was at work and gave me my tour. I loved it, and with a quick Venmo of the deposit, it was ours.

PPT: That’s great! Thank heavens for modern technology. Since you were recently married, what has been your favorite part of settling in so far?

Ansley: Well, since it is mine and Jackson’s first home, everything has been so fun and new, He was finishing up work in Colorado, so I flew home nine days earlier to get the house painted, cleaned, and fully set up! I felt like I was on an episode of Fixer Upper. I am so thankful that I had a great “team,” my family here, and my moms’ friend, Sundown. It was all hands on deck to transform our little “McGukin Manor.”

Settling in made for long days but unbelievable fun. It was such a special moment when Jackson came home, and we stayed our first night in our first place. I’ll never forget it.

PPT: Tell me about your favorite space.

Ansley: Our favorite space is probably our living room. We spend the most time here, after long days at work and nursing school. It’s the largest part of our home and offers a nice place to calm down and relax. Right now, I love it because it has a beautiful Christmas tree standing right in the middle of the room.

PPT: Wait! So, you have already put up your tree? I love to talk to people about the ornaments they collect. I find that they often have a favorite ornament with a story attached. Do you each have one?

Ansley: Yes, I could not wait to put up our tree! I had to! It’s our first one! We bought it at Michaels and raided Hobby Lobby, finding all the best ornaments! IT WAS SO FUN!

And since you asked about the ornaments, I will tell you about each of our favorites. Mine is an airplane that symbolizes facing my fears. I had a fear of flying since before we were married, but I have been on six flights in the past six months. So, the plane symbolizes facing my fears to accomplish the end goal even when there is still fear.

Jackson’s favorite one is his Stormtrooper ornament. It reminds him of wonder and adventure. He watched some of the movies during his childhood and really enjoyed them, not to mention his love of Star Wars in general. He may have spent hours in that land in Disney World.

PPT: I love the meaning behind those ornaments. What great reminders. Finally, give me a favorite memory made here so far?

Ansley: Honestly, for us, it has been all the special moments and prayers shared in this house. We have witnessed many answers to prayers, and that has been very special to us. Another blessing has been the location of the house. We have enjoyed taking walks around the neighborhood. We recently started taking the dog we often watch to the neighboring ballpark to run around. It has been so convenient. One of my aunts lives less than five houses down, so that’s been a bonus. It is a lovely first home.

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