Butte volunteer turns senior center into Christmas tree forest

Posted at 9:01 AM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 11:01:42-05

BUTTE — You literally get lost in this forest of Christmas trees and, no, I’m not at Santa's workshop—I’m at Big Sky Senior Living in Butte where a Butte woman has literally been decking these halls with beautiful trees for 12 years.

“Twelve years ago my father-in-law moved in here and that fall in November I asked Laurie if she had a Christmas Tree and she said, ‘oh yeah, we’ve got this great big one that we put up here,’ and I said, ‘I’ve got 15,’ so I’ve moved in and she’s never kicked me out,” said Carolyn Cornelius.

Fast forward a dozen years later and the senior living center has more than 60 different Christmas trees. Carolyn starts decorating on Nov. 1, but this is truly a year-round hobby.

“There’s a lot of hunting and searching and during the year you’ll come across this store and you’re like, ‘oh my God, we can build a tree around that,’” she said.

She finds ornaments and decorations in stores and thrift shops everywhere she goes. One person even recognized one of the ornaments during a tour.

“She pulled me aside and she goes, ‘Carolyn, that’s my doll.’ I’m like do you want it back and she goes, ‘no.’ But this is the doll she had when she was a kid and they had cleaned out the house and given it away and now it lives in a tree,” said Cornelius.

The residents enjoy seeing all the trees.

“They like to tour around, it gives them a chance to walk the different areas and see different trees, new trees. They like to stop by my office and let me know what new trees they’ve found so I can go out and find them as well,” said staff member Hillary Marcum.

Carolyn remembers an older resident who was grumpy about the season.

“He was complaining about Christmas and it needed to be over and it wasn’t really Christmas anyway. And I said, ‘well, what makes Christmas for you?’ And he said the tree has to be red and green. So I built him one and put it by the elevator and he was happy. And it was oh my God that’s all it took, but I didn’t know that it wasn’t Christmas for him,” she said.

With such a variety of trees, this place could be Christmas for anyone. And people can see these trees at Big Sky Senior Living’s Christmas Stroll on Dec. 18 from 2 to 4 in the afternoon.