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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 2018

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

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Decorating gingerbread houses has been a tradition at Hunt Hill Farm for many years. We invite you to join us this year with pastry chef extraordinaire Claire Bevington.

Cost: $90.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
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Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kimberly
Website »

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The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as 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
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What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
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Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

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What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

More information

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

More information

Join us for a free informational talk about the uses and benefits of CBD oil hosted by the founders of Ropana. Attendees will also be able to take advantage of an extra 15% off Ropana products...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
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Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

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What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
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4 Bryan Plaza
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View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Join us on Thursdays in December to celebrate a month of giving for the Audubon at Bent of the River.  Each Thursday morning, we will be joined by Kate Pratt who will have a bird-themed story...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
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View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as miniature...

Cost: Admission Free

Where:
Fine Line Art Gallery
319 Main Street South
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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

The Connecticut Dance Theatre, under the artistic director, Donna Bonasera, presents a community collaboration for the young and the young at heart. Experience the timeless classic, The Nutcracker,...

Cost: $22-$25

Where:
Thomaston Opera House
158 Main St.
Level 5
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Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-6250
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
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What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

More information

FRIDAY FEAST AND DANCING FEET.  Join us for our Thanksgiving Celebration of our Friday Feast and Dancing Feet with music by Michael Ciulla.  Pre-registration is required.

Cost: $7.00 pp

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


Sponsor: Litchfield Community Center
Telephone: 860-567-8302
Website »

More information

We will celebrate the Winter Solstice in conjunction with the power of the Full Moon when the veil between the dimensions is thin. It is the optimal time to set our intentions for the New Year,...

Cost: $20.00

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as 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

The Connecticut Dance Theatre, under the artistic director, Donna Bonasera, presents a community collaboration for the young and the young at heart. Experience the timeless classic, The Nutcracker,...

Cost: $22-$25

Where:
Thomaston Opera House
158 Main St.
Level 5
Thomaston, CT  06787
View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-6250
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Decorating gingerbread houses has been a tradition at Hunt Hill Farm for many years. We invite you to join us this year with pastry chef extraordinaire Claire Bevington.

Cost: $90.00

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


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Contact Name: Kimberly
Website »

More information

Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration embraces the spirit of the holidays within the extraordinary acoustics of the world’s largest cathedral, The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine....

Cost: $90.00 pp

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


Telephone: 860-567-8302
Contact Name: Berta Andrulis Mette
Website »

More information

Byrde + the b is pleased to announce an exhibit of Walter Fields new  artwork opening on Friday November 2 from 5-7:00pm at Byrde + the b, 10 Titus Rd, Washington Depot, CT 06794.  The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


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

More information

KMR Arts presents Mark Seliger: Platinum Prints. The exhibition opens on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 3-6 pm with a reception and book signing of the monograph, MARK SELIGER PHOTOGRAPHS, with the...

Cost: no charge

Where:
KMR Arts
2 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: KMR Arts
Telephone: (860)868-7533
Contact Name: Kathy McCarver Root
Website »

More information

What sets the Washington Art Association’s Annual Holiday Sale apart from others is not only the exquisitely hand crafted gifts by local artisans, but a talented group of volunteers designers and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Washington Art Association & Gallery
4 Bryan Plaza
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Washington Art Association & gallery
Telephone: 860-868-2878
Contact Name: Ginger Nelsen
Website »

More information

The Fine Line Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Show 'Miniature Masterpieces' features artwork perfect for gift-giving. The exhibit will include small works of art, such as 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

The Connecticut Dance Theatre, under the artistic director, Donna Bonasera, presents a community collaboration for the young and the young at heart. Experience the timeless classic, The Nutcracker,...

Cost: $22-$25

Where:
Thomaston Opera House
158 Main St.
Level 5
Thomaston, CT  06787
View map »


Sponsor: Landmark Community Theatre
Telephone: 860-283-6250
Contact Name: Jeffrey Dunn
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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