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Christmas Without a Tree

But every bit as Merry and Joyful



Photographs by Wendy Carlson & John Kane

It’s no surprise that Rob Deyber and Bob Graham don’t put up a traditional Christmas tree. Since they’ve moved into their renovated Greek revival house in New Milford more than two years ago, Deyber, a prolific artist, and his partner, Graham, the proprietor of Housatonic Trading Company in Bantam, have been busier than a pair of espresso-fueled elves during the holidays.

Deyber spends long days holed up in his studio at the Switch Factory in Bantam where he might be working on 25 different paintings at one time. Across the street, at Housatonic Trading Co., Graham sells antiques, replica fine art, furniture, home furnishings and décor, many of which he finds at auctions and estate sales. And just like Mike and Frank, hosts of the reality TV show “American Pickers,” Graham has a fondness for vintage signs and anything else that’s slightly offbeat. 

So, Christmas can be an especially hectic time for both of them. “We’ve been together 15 years and we haven’t had a tree up yet,” says Graham. Still, they manage to put their own quirky spin on the holiday season. “We are not the type of people who celebrate a traditional Christmas. We prefer to kitsch the heck out of the holiday based on our rather unique tastes,” Deyber says. “I like to put lights on just about everything I can find that is wacky. One year I completely wrapped a taxidermy brown bear in lights. Another year I found this beautiful dead evergreen sapling in the backyard with no pine needles on it at all, so I spray painted it black and decorated it to the nines with this oversized Moravian star on top. I once even wrapped the toilet in the guest bathroom with Christmas lights!”

Another year, Deyber suspended a three-foot-tall, black Christmas tree upside down from the middle of the ceiling and strung it with brown lights. “I love illuminating odd-shaped trees in the yard, the more crazy looking the tree the better,” he says. “I used to get up on a huge ladder and weave intricate patterns inside these giant maple trees. We really like to avoid decorating with the typical primary colored Christmas lights, so during the year I scour the Internet for unusual colored lights, like smoky brown or purple.”

This unconventional approach makes Christmas at their home fun and singularly unpredictable. Even though time is precious during the holidays, they often invite artists and friends for an afternoon potluck dinner. The informal gathering makes the process of preparing a meal stress free, and gives them a chance to mingle.

Winter afternoon gatherings typically unfold casually. A steady stream of friends arrive adding their potluck items to an expanding smorgasbord of dishes. Wine bottles are uncorked; flutes are filled, and conversation flows.

The house, which was totally gutted then rebuilt, was refurbished with entertaining in mind. The kitchen features an 18-foot-long marblecounter with seating, and there are several cozy sitting areas throughout the house for guests to gather.

The oldest part of the house was built in the early 1700s, and while it has undergone extensive renovation, it still has the warm feel of an old New England home. Graham took on much of the renovation himself and within just a few years transformed the disheveled wreck into a beloved country retreat.

​Deyber’s whimsical art is a focal point and his paintings are juxtaposed with antique signage, vintage pieces, and a preponderance of American eagles—one of his favorite motifs. They jokingly refer to their house as a “repository for found objects.”

Since Graham routinely buys and sells antiques, he often needs the space in the house to temporarily house those items. This collection of eclectic objects contrasts with the spacious, open-floor plan. A contrast of themes is also a hallmark of Deyber’s art. A self-taught painter, he refers to his works as “pop surrealism.”

Humor plays a major role in his paintings, which he often achieves by taking familiar words, sayings, and idioms and reinterpreting them on canvas. In War of the Roses III, cannonballs blast out of white and red roses, and in Cold Call III, a line of penguins wait their turn to use the telephone box.

But on this winter afternoon, as guests filtered into the house, the focus is not on the intriguing art, but on the lively conversation andgood company. As a blustery wind builds snow drifts outside, the atmosphere inside is warm and festive. A touch of greenery on the mantle, a string of small lights around the window, and boxwoods in the kitchen all work to make this vintage house feel an awful lot like Christmas.

 

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December 2017

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Oliver Wolcott Library
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
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The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

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10 Titus Road
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Lake Compounce Theme Park
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Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
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The Gunn Historical Museum’s Washington History Club in the Morning will meet at the Washington Senior Center on Monday, December 18 at 10am. The topic of discussion will be Christmas...

Cost: free

Where:
The Washington Senior Center
6 Bryan Hall Plaza
Washington, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: GUNN HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Telephone: 860-868-7756
Contact Name: STEPHEN BARTKUS
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The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
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Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

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The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Want to see the tallest Christmas tree in Connecticut?  Then taking a visit to Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce featuring a 100 foot tall Christmas tree is a must! Join in the fun with a...

Cost: Adult $15.99, Children (4-10) & Seniors $11.99, Children 3 & under – FREE

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Lake Compounce Theme Park
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Website »

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Landmark Community Theatre holds auditions for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Thomaston Opera House. Contact: Jeffrey Dunn, Executive Director Administrative: (860) 283-8558 Box Office:  (860)...

Cost: Free

Where:
Arts Center Theatre
158 Main St.
Level 2
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View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
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The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Want to see the tallest Christmas tree in Connecticut?  Then taking a visit to Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce featuring a 100 foot tall Christmas tree is a must! Join in the fun with a...

Cost: Adult $15.99, Children (4-10) & Seniors $11.99, Children 3 & under – FREE

Where:
Lake Compounce Theme Park
186 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Want to see the tallest Christmas tree in Connecticut?  Then taking a visit to Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce featuring a 100 foot tall Christmas tree is a must! Join in the fun with a...

Cost: Adult $15.99, Children (4-10) & Seniors $11.99, Children 3 & under – FREE

Where:
Lake Compounce Theme Park
186 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Landmark Community Theatre holds auditions for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Thomaston Opera House. Contact: Jeffrey Dunn, Executive Director Administrative: (860) 283-8558 Box Office:  (860)...

Cost: Free

Where:
Arts Center Theatre
158 Main St.
Level 2
Thomaston, CT  06787
View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-8558
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Want to see the tallest Christmas tree in Connecticut?  Then taking a visit to Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce featuring a 100 foot tall Christmas tree is a must! Join in the fun with a...

Cost: Adult $15.99, Children (4-10) & Seniors $11.99, Children 3 & under – FREE

Where:
Lake Compounce Theme Park
186 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

December 1st - December 30th The show opens with a reception on Saturday, December 2nd from 11AM to 4PM.  The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Want to see the tallest Christmas tree in Connecticut?  Then taking a visit to Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce featuring a 100 foot tall Christmas tree is a must! Join in the fun with a...

Cost: Adult $15.99, Children (4-10) & Seniors $11.99, Children 3 & under – FREE

Where:
Lake Compounce Theme Park
186 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

December 1st - December 30th The show opens with a reception on Saturday, December 2nd from 11AM to 4PM.  The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Jim Moore and Dan Antonucci on 12/23/17 at Litchfield Community Center from 12-5pm. Original prints and drawings and handmade woodworking products will be on display and available just in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield Community Center
421 Bantam Rd.
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Jim Moore
Telephone: 631-624-3908
Contact Name: Jim Moore
Website »

More information

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Robert Deyber Master Artist from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Robert Deyber is an American artist...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

In the summer of 1972 Jason rode a motorcycle from Connecticut to California, with stops in most of the Western States. The beauty he experienced on this trip ignited a lifelong passion for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 186-056-78030
Contact Name: Jordan McCorison
Website »

More information

The Byrde + the b is pleased to announce the opening of Jivan Wolf master jeweler from 4-7 pm on Saturday December 2, 2017 and runs through Jan 31, 2018. Jivan Wolf hand fabricates jewelry...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Want to see the tallest Christmas tree in Connecticut?  Then taking a visit to Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce featuring a 100 foot tall Christmas tree is a must! Join in the fun with a...

Cost: Adult $15.99, Children (4-10) & Seniors $11.99, Children 3 & under – FREE

Where:
Lake Compounce Theme Park
186 Enterprise Drive
Bristol, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

December 1st - December 30th The show opens with a reception on Saturday, December 2nd from 11AM to 4PM.  The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: Fine Line Art Gallery
Telephone: 203-266-0110
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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