By Ann Leach

When Carthage residents sing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” the Clint and Cathy Jo Loy home will most likely come to mind. Especially after getting to tour the home during the Carthage Holiday Homes Tour this December 3.

“Dad always lit our house up with tons of lights,” Cathy Jo said. “And about a week after Thanksgiving, he would put on his Liberace or Julie Andrews Christmas album while my mom made Chex Mix and hot cocoa and we would spend the evening decorating as a family.”

The tradition continued for Cathy Jo, commissioner of Missouri Chartered Schools, when she started decorating every room back in the ‘80s for open houses to bring in extra cash by selling her homemade crafts, wreaths and custom art that was scattered around the house. She would invite friends over for hot cocoa and cookies at the end of the evening. When she married, she established theme trees she changed out every couple of years. One item that has remained consistent, though, is the little felt dove she bought as a tree topper for their first tree. 

“I was given a few of my childhood Hallmark ornaments, but over the years, I have become very sentimental as a mom and now a grandma, so although the trees have themes, they are laden with ones we’ve made or collected over the years.”

That’s right, she said “trees.” The Loys have 11 full-size trees, and every room is decorated, including the laundry room and the bathrooms. “My husband thinks I am trying to compete with Silver Dollar City,” Cathy Jo said. “He says it ‘drips’ Christmas at our house.”

Clint Loy, an ER physician in Lamar, said, “I have always loved our home during the Christmas season. Gathering family and friends is always so important, but especially so this time of year.” And Clint participates by “generally doing some heavy lifting. The leg lamp in the front window is probably my finest contribution.” 

The Loys begin the decorating the week before Thanksgiving and then host the annual open house and see about 120 people in an evening coming for the fun. The family continues to have game nights, gingerbread house decorating and crafting times together. Their extended family comes every other year.

Most of the decorations are used from year to year, though Cathy Jo will buy something that catches her eye each year and is usually making things to add. And she does have favorites: the White House ornaments her aunt started collecting for them in 1982. “We love getting the new one and reading its history,” she said. “I also love the giveaway ornaments we make each year: The driftwood Santas made from the suitcase of driftwood I brought back from a vacation in Puget Sound or the gnomes made from masks during Covid are some of my favorites.”

When the Loy family isn’t relaxing or entertaining at home, they enjoy driving through Carthage and the Vietnamese Monastery lights exhibit on a hay wagon and enjoying the Lights in the Park. With her love of the holiday season, Cathy Jo is asking Santa Claus to bring Carthage the gifts of “our community truly engaged in taking care of one another, knowing each other and seeing our little town prosper.”