CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The love of Christmas can be found in many different forms. For one Chesterfield woman, it comes in the shape of a Christmas tree.
"I've always loved Christmas trees. Well, the year we moved into this house which was 1975, I only had one Christmas tree. I wanted one in the family room where we could watch it all the time. I have enough angels that I can have an angel tree, so I took the angels off the trees and started an angel tree," Dona Link explained.
From there, her love and collection of Christmas trees exploded.
"More than 50. Last year, I think the grandchildren counted 56," Link said.
There's no doubt that Dona embodies the spirit of Christmas.
"The things I liked, hearts and stars and angels, I just bought more of. And it's grown to where now I have more than 10,000 ornaments," Link said.
For Dona, the Christmas trees provide an artistic outlet.
"It's one way I create. I enjoy decorating and I've really loved putting the trees together," Link said.
There is indeed an art to doing this with each tree having its own theme. Dona's biggest tree currently has 1,500 ornaments on it. By the time it's finished, it will be adorned with nine crates full of ornaments, adding up to 4,000.
The trees come in all shapes and sizes from nine and a half inches to nine and a half feet. A simple walk through the house lets you see the hard work on display.
"Well, this is the Santa Clause tree and I've enjoyed collecting Santas. This little one in a bottle is one of my favorites," Link said.
Other favorites include her snowmen tree, peacock tree, angel tree and patriotic tree. There is also a tree that has grown into a family favorite.
"It has a lot of teddy bear angels and a lot of teddy bear families doing activities," Link said.
Her passion is without a doubt a labor of love.
"I usually start around the first of November. This year, I started a week earlier knowing that as I get older, it takes longer to do this," Link said.
At almost 83, Dona is still as enthusiastic about Christmas trees as the first one she put up back in 1975. However, maintaining more than 50 trees takes responsibility.
"Once I go to all the trouble of getting them up, I enjoy having people come and sharing them with them," Link said.
One way she does that is through the Chesterfield Colonial Heights Christmas Mother Auction.
"This year, we auctioned off a champagne brunch in our home sometime in December while the trees are up," Link said.
Dona's husband of 61 years has the job of making sure each tree is steady before any ornaments go on.
Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren always offer a helping hand, with each tree acting as a testament to family memories and Christmas dreams coming true.