A Christmas Karol

In 1910, residential lots were made available by Charles Howard and Samuel Hedger in the Highlands District located between 8th Ave NE and 15th Ave NE. This large new subdivision of Aberdeen was planted with 12,000 trees and was called the Highlands because it was three feet higher than downtown Aberdeen.

A 1910 Historic Home Sets the Stage for a Spectacular Family Legacy

Jim Parsons And The Late Karol Bormes-ParsonsThe schedule for Aberdeen Magazine requires that we work almost two months ahead of the season or events we cover in each issue. So as we approached this issue, which would of course feature holiday elements, how do you include lavish Christmas decorations in the early October? Instead of hiring someone to stage a house in the fall, we instead chose to feature a lavishly decorated house from a Christmas past.

Several years ago I had heard of a house in the Highlands division up on north Lincoln Street that was literally “over the top” with Christmas decorations. We contacted the owners Jim Parsons and Karol Bormes-Parsons and they invited us into their house to film segments of a holiday commercial. The pride Karol had in her historic home and her passion for Christmas stuck with me. So I bothered Jim and Karol again last Christmas (2014) to see if they’d be willing to allow me to share their Christmas spirit with Aberdeen Magazine readers. They happily agreed. I overstayed my welcome and took well over 100 photos, hearing stories about every single ornament, tree, light, setting, room, wreath and angel. I just didn’t want to leave. Karol was so excited to share her collection, Jim sat and smiled as she flitted from one room to the next, orally captioning the photos as I shot.

The intent was to get the pages of Aberdeen Magazine laid out with all the great pictures then get her to help me add descriptive captions to each. To my shock, and everyone else’s, Karol passed away unexpectedly in May of this year.

I contacted Dr. John Bormes, one of Karol’s sons here in Aberdeen and he encouraged me to print the pictures. He thought it would be a loving tribute to her passion for Christmas and her devotion to family.

Dr. Bormes recalls each Thanksgiving when the whole family would bring down the 50 plus boxes of decorations from the third floor rooms (rooms originally designed as servant quarters). “Everything had to come out of the boxes,” he states, “It all had to go up.” The ornaments came from everywhere, including many inherited by Karol from her great-grandmother. Just as new ones were acquired, old, low-hanging ones were inevitably broken by the youthful, next generation experiencing the excitement of Christmas.

The Bormes family bought the house in 1964, and Jim continues to live in it today. It was built in 1910 presumably as a wedding gift to a child of a man named John W. Holmes. The Bormes family lovingly restored the home and added many modern conveniences and infrastructural upgrades.

Mark Bormes, another of Karol’s children, plans to come home to Aberdeen this Christmas to decorate the house, perhaps one last time. A big Christmas is planned, exactly as Karol would have wanted. She’ll no doubt be there looking in on Jim, her children, grandchildren, and friends, probably through the eyes of one of the hundreds of angels watching over the family. // – Troy McQuillen