For a while, Christmas was difficult for Sabrina Hardy. In 2006, her father died on Christmas Day. That made the holiday a painful, annual reminder.
“So I kind of stopped for awhile,” Hardy said. “Now I’m getting to the point where I do enjoy it.”
This Christmas, every room in Hardy’s house is decorated with nativities, polar bears and trees. Her home will be part of Saturday’s Gig Harbor Holiday Tour of Homes, the 18th year for the event, put on by the Altrusa Foundation. It’s the first year as a host for Hardy.
Each home tends to have an overarching theme, but Hardy said she sees her Christmas wares as “eclectic.” A common thread is nativity scenes. Hardy said those are more important than Santas because they represent the “reason for the season.”
Hardy overcame grief to get back into the Christmas spirit. In 2008, she lost her brother in early in the new year. Although she believes timing is in the hands of a higher power, not people, it stung to lose both a brother and her father around the holidays.
“It’s been hard to come back to and not feel hurt,” Hardy said of the holiday season.
But, just as the reminders bring grief and pain, they also bring a time to remember what makes family so special. She said she remembers the good things, and that’s something her son reminds her often.
There will be six homes on the tour this weekend. A map of a suggested route will guide drivers through. Some homes have views — one by the airport looks out at the Narrows bridges, another looks at Point Defiance Park, and a third is a downtown waterfront view home.
The Hardy home also has a view.
Hardy and her husband, Bryce, as well as their teenage boys, Tanner, 15, and Cage, 13, have lived in their home for a decade. The Hardys designed the house themselves, and they made sure every room in the house on Henderson Bay Ridge had a view. On a clear day, panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains can be seen from throughout the house.
The tour of homes ended up being part of the house-building process, as the Hardys toured houses not just to look at decorations but to gather ideas about floor plans, too.
There will be unique homes along the tour. An annual favorite is a Norwegian-themed home, said Nancy Hohenstein, the president of the local chapter of Altrusa International.
“It’s very authentic,” Hohenstein said. “The people who own it are all Norwegian artists. This is really an amazing home. Every piece has a story.”
There’s also a home, just down the street from the Hardys, that has many pieces of a craft and floral theme. Hohenstein said the house thrilled organizers and homeowners during an advanced tour.
“Everybody went, ‘Holy cow, this is amazing,’ ” Hohenstein said.
While some families use tour day as a time to get away from home or go out to eat, Hardy will stay home as visitors stroll through, she said.
Hohenstein believes this will be the strongest tour of homes she’s seen in her 10 years of the event. It’s diverse: Some homes are ornate, some classical and some have themes. There’s a little something for everyone, she said.
Proceeds from the tickets will go to the Boys & Girls Club community kitchen, the Peninsula Youth Orchestra, Altrusa Mentor Corps and Altrusa Serving Kids — ASK.
Hardy said she’s happy the money will go to a good cause.
The box office will open at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club on Skansie Avenue. The homes will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A holiday bazaar will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club.
Advanced tickets are available for $20. They will be $25 at the door.
Around town, tickets are available at the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the Boys & Girls Club, Kitsap Credit Union North, Ace Hardware, the Garden Store, Bella Kitchen and Home, and Heidi’s Sweet Shop. Tickets also can be purchased at gigharborholidaytour.org. A package of 10 advanced tickets is available for $150.
Hardy said she’s geared up for the event. She purchased more than her usual amount of decorations. She plans to buy more trees, more nativities and more ornaments.
On a holiday that sometimes stings, she’s in the spirit and excited to share her home with others for a good cause.Reporter Karen Miller can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @gateway_karen.