Come Christmas, light cascades from Tracy Pope's home near Cape Fear Country Club. A dusting of snow in 2017 added a dreamy, snow globe quality to the picture-perfect holiday greeting card setting.
The Blythe Road home Tracy shares with John Michael Mielcarski and their three daughters is decorated for Christmas by Thanksgiving time. Every room is arranged like a time capsule, celebrating her performing arts career and tributes to the family and friends who have touched their lives in poignant ways. Every tree ornament is labeled with the name of the person who made or gave it and the date on which the gift was presented.
"As we're decorating the trees, we read the name and the date," Tracy says. It's a way to keep alive the memory of the dear departed.
During the 1960s the young Tracy began her ballet training at the Academy of the Tidewater Ballet in Norfolk. She went on to become a principal ballerina with the New York City Ballet until she was sidelined with a knee injury.
The white-on-white tree that tops the circa 1920s baby grand piano in the music room is as much an homage to her dance career mentor Mikhail Baryshnikov, pictured on the wall behind the tree, as it is to daughter Jordan's pursuit of a music education career.
In the dining room, balls that no longer fit on the tree laden with keepsake angels are hung from the dining room chandelier. They are paired with glitter Ombre cone trees in subtle shades of shimmering pink, a contrast against the rich chocolate brown walls and a complement to pale pink toile de jouy window treatments. Daughter Kathryn Grace's christening gown is hung in a framed shadow box and a tree bedecked with Tracy's great aunt Doris Brock's stunning collection of owls by designer Christopher Radko is tucked into a corner.
A playful snowman tree in the foyer belies the formality of the entrance inside the stately 75-year-old brick dwelling. "The snowman sets the tone for our home," Tracy says. Inside the great room, the Angel Tree is adorned with bespoke sequined and seed pearl balls hand-decorated by Tracy's mother and grandmother.
"I can still remember my mother and grandmother seated around a felt-covered card table making those beautiful, ornate balls," she says.
The twinkling lights from the great room Angel Tree are seen from the sun-soaked Carolina Room where a wall of windows frames views of the courtyard.
Tracy has so many ornaments, she secures them in bins in a rented storage unit. Every fall, she visits the unit to retrieve seasonal and Halloween decorations and gazes longingly at the Christmas ornaments. She has collected so many that to display them she puts up a tree in every room.
"The whole house is nothing but a collection of our whole lives, and Christmas is the fabric that weaves it all together," she says.
Rustic pinecone trees line the mantel, grounding the d?cor with a nod toward the natural, outside world.
Having danced Tchaikovsky's ballet more than once, it's no wonder Tracy is a nutcracker collector. It's spellbinding how many she can snuggle on the antique secretary and pewter-lined breakfront in her kitchen where she also displays her gingerbread tree amid a growing number of whimsical cookie jars. Every year, she bakes cookies for Diana Corbett's cookie exchange. Her signature red velvet cake glorifies the humble Charlie Brown tree on her granite counter top.