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Those wanting to squeeze in some holiday fun before the season is over can find family-friendly entertainment in Taylor County.
Stringing up Christmas lights in October might sound a little out of season, but for Taylor County resident Garnettia Knifley, that’s when she begins her Christmas decorating each year.
“I make my crafts myself,” Knifley said. “I enjoy woodwork so much, and this is just one way of spreading the good news.”
Knifley says about 900 visitors drive to her home in Elk Horn each year to see her handmade Christmas decorations and taste her homemade fudge.
“Right after my husband passed away 14 years ago, I wanted something to occupy my time,” Knifley said.
Knifley started her woodworking in their basement, but her husband James, a former teacher and Methodist minister, was worried that the sawdust wouldn’t be good for the furnace. So he built her a shop in one of the buildings on their farm shortly before he died.
“He never did get to live to see it finished, but from then on, I’ve been working in woodcraft,” Knifley said.
One of the first decorations one sees when they pull into the Knifley farm is a life-sized nativity scene. Knifley said she made it four years ago and considered the expensive pattern her Christmas present. She said the project took about a month from to finish.
Knifley said her love of Christmas is a result of modest Christmases she experienced in her childhood.
“I was raised about a mile from here, and of course we didn’t have anything much,” Knifley said.
“There was a big family of us, 10 of us in all, but anyhow I was a pretty good sized girl and I thought I wasn’t going to get a doll.”
Knifley said she was sad about this, but then there was a loud noise on Christmas Eve night on the front porch. Her older brothers told her it must have been Santa who made the racket.
“But anyway they made a racket on the front porch and I thought, well, that’s Santa and my brothers said I nearly liked to tore the door down you know, trying to get outside to see where Santa’s at.”
When she ran outside, she didn’t see anything, but when she came back in the house, she saw that Santa had left her two dolls.
“I remember that real well,” Knifley said. “I tell you I had older brothers and I think a lot of times they helped Santa Claus alone, but they knew they thought I wasn’t even going to get a doll one, and they made sure I got two.”
Knifley said she wants families to know they can experience Christmas joy without having to spend money. There is no cost to see her decorations or sample her holiday treats.
“They’ll say, ‘Where’s your donation box?’ And I say, ‘I don’t have a donation box.’ I just love to do it,” Knifley said. “From the love of my heart. The Lord is good to me, so I try to be good to other people. I think that’s what he would want me to do.”
Knifley said her woodworking also led her to discover a passion for painting.
“Oh, I love to paint and I never had any lessons in my life, I just picked it up,” Knifley said.
Although the patterns are expensive, Knifley said she always makes sure to add one or two new ones each year. She adds to her gingerbread village just about every year.
While she gets the lights strung on her house and fence in October, Knifley said she waits till the middle of November to put her wooden decorations out. The rain damages the wood and she leaves them out until the first of January. She said leaving the decorations up for a month gives everyone who wants to come plenty of time.
“I have had a lot of people that want to help me and I think that’s very sweet of them,” Knifley said.
But she said she always turns them down because she enjoys doing it herself. This year though, one of her daughters insisted on helping setting up the life-sized nativity scene.
Knifley said she hopes to continue her Christmas decorating for many years to come. She said she has been fortunate to have good health and even a knee replacement was not enough to slow her down much.
“The Lord is good to me, so I try to be good to other people,” Knifley said. “I think that’s what he would want me to do.”
Knifley’s decorations can be seen at her home at 275 J. Knifley Road in Elk Horn.
If one is simply looking for a few laughs this Christmas, consider watching a video that gives a rare glimpse into the lives of “Elves on the Shelf,” created by the pastor and members of Vineyard Campbellsville.
The video, which was created for the Vineyard’s annual Christmas dinner and talent show, had 610 views on YouTube at press time.
“We’re always trying to invent some silly thing that the staff can contribute to,” Andrew Ward, leader of family ministries at the Vineyard, said.
Ward said he and Pastor Adam Russell knew a lot of families in the church had an “Elf on the Shelf,” so they thought this would be something entertaining for adults and children.
Ward said that while the editing was tedious, it was an overall fun experience for everyone involved.
Vineyard member Marcus Stanfield said when he was invited to play a starring role as the father who is constantly tormented by the elves in the video, he did not know what he was getting himself into.
“They’re just so annoying,” Stanfield said. “Those little elves, I’m telling you.”
Stanfield said that his children, Ezra, 4, and Lyric, 3, who also appear in the video, have an “Elf on the Shelf” named Ollie.
He said it came with a book, which tells the story of the elf. “The elf comes out every year, around Christmas time,” Stanfield said. “At night, he goes back to the North Pole and reports to Santa how your kids have acted that day.”
He said his children had a blast making the video, but he has had to interfere a few times when they tried imitating the elves’ wild antics.
The video was recorded at Stanfield’s house and the naughty elves made quite a mess in his kitchen.
“I insisted on helping clean, but actually they refused and they would not let me,” Stanfield said.
“Apparently, every time they thought they were done, they would find Rice Krispies or Ramen noodles somewhere else.”
According to Ward, the most challenging part of the video was not fainting from the constrictive material of the costumes.
Stanfield said the idea of the video was hilarious, so he had fun even though he was the victim.
The video can be found on YouTube by searching for “Elf Hunters Campbellsville Vineyard,” and is appropriate for viewers of all ages.
“It certainly got a good reception at the church,” Ward said. “I don’t think we scarred too many kids for life, so that was a bonus.”