Nothing artificial about GJ man’s giving spirit, love of Christmas trees

Darrell Jones eats, sleeps and breathes Christmas.

No matter where he sits — in or out of his Grand Junction home — Jones can see a Christmas tree.

This year, Jones put up and decorated 10 Christmas trees. Some years he decorates more. There are probably enough ornaments in his attic to trim three more trees.

Jones’ friends say the Grand Junction man has so much interest in Christmas trees he could open a small Grand Junction store. But Jones admits he wouldn’t be able to sell anything.

“I just give, give, give,” said Jones, 46. “I could never be a salesman.”

There are no Christmas presents under any of Jones’ trees.

“It’s all going to charity. People need it,” Jones said. He gives to Toys for Tots, area food banks and other charities.

The generosity Jones values can be traced to his childhood in Texas.

His parents didn’t have a lot of money and probably struggled to purchase enough food to feed him and his six siblings, Jones said.

But they always found ways to celebrate Christmas. Sometimes his parents gave each of their children something small. One year, Jones got the game “Operation.” It was his favorite childhood present.

His parents bought a Christmas tree, usually in mid-December when live trees went on sale.

His mother decorated the tree with the same ornaments every year.

“I wish I had those ornaments,” Jones said.

If he did, they would hang on “Mother Tree,” the name Jones has given the 9 1/2-foot tall artificial tree in the middle of his living room.

It took an entire weekend to put up Mother Tree. Jones estimated he has rearranged the ornaments 20 times.

Each year, friends offer to help decorate the trees. But Jones declines the offers. Even Larry Dixon, who lives with Jones, isn’t allowed to help because he doesn’t decorate the trees according to Jones’ standards.

Jones never decorates a tree the same from year to year, Dixon said.

Different ornaments appear every year, but Jones uses his parents’ money-conscious ways to purchase them. He buys them on sale, after Christmas. He shops at discount stores and online.

“ChristmasDepot.com loves me to death,” Jones said.

However, not all the ornaments hanging on Mother Tree were purchased by Jones.

Jones is a certified nursing assistant with Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado. When families of his patients learn how much Jones loves Christmas trees, they give him ornaments.

Consequently, no other tree is decorated like Mother Tree, and it is the only tree Jones decks with a hodgepodge of ornaments.

The other nine are matchy-matchy.

The tree in the kitchen has gold ornaments and white lights. The silver tree in the formal dining room has red decorations. The tree in a bedroom is green with gold and white lights and ornaments. There’s what Jones calls the “Charlie Brown tree” in the guest bedroom. The five trees outside the house are all frosted white.

All the trees are artificial so they can be used again.

When Jones no longer needs one of his trees, he gives it away to family or friends.

Jones’ friend, Paul Riensche, received one such tree.

Last week, when Riensche admitted to Jones that the tree wasn’t up yet, Jones was speechless.

Jones starts planning for Christmas in the summer, Riensche said. “In July, he says, ‘It’s almost Christmas.’ “

However, for as much as Jones enjoys Christmas trees and ornaments, it’s the spirit of the holidays he loves most.

He tries to bring the spirit of his childhood and of charity alive through trees, he said.

“I’m totally happy to just sit and look at the trees,” Jones said. “Christmas has that feeling.”


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