Patricia J. (PJ) Mitchell has loved Christmas for about as long as she can remember. She recalls with enthusiasm how her family would revel in the seasonal decorating process. Her family would go from tree lot to tree lot, with PJ’s father holding up tree after tree, until her mom decided that one was perfect. “I inherited that perfect tree gene from my mother!” Mitchell says. The “perfect” tree would then be adorned with silver garland, multi-colored lights and handmade German ornaments, including colorful balls and small model birds. The German ornaments are particularly close to her heart because they were sent to the family from her godmother while she was living in Germany. As time went by and she entered adulthood, Mitchell’s passion for Christmas and making the most out of the joyous occasion only intensified.
“A friend of mine had told me some time ago that my house is absolutely perfect for Christmas, almost as if it was designed for it,” says Mitchell, a Murray Hill resident who is a vice president for IBM global sales operations. The carpeting in her foyer and stairwell is a festive cherry red and the walls are painted a warm butter color— the perfect palette for her decorations. A Christmas garland adorned with big red bows and pine cones cascades down the stairwell. The garland, along with the autumnal fruit arrangement above the fireplace mantel, Mitchell created herself.
Mitchell’s Christmas tree, purchased from Misty Valley Farm in Hunt Valley, is set as a focal point in her living room and is always decked out with little trinkets and ornaments. She is especially fond of collecting “annual” ornaments. From the Tower of London, she has miniature replicas of the crown jewels. Her alma mater, the College of Notre Dame, where she serves as chairman of the board, provides her with models of unique places on campus. If pressed, she reveals that her favorites are from the White House Historical Association, including one that celebrates the 200th anniversary of the White House and another that features the Marine Band from the early 1800s. She particularly treasures the latter because her father was a Marine during World War II.
As involving as the decoration process is, Mitchell enjoys every minute of it. Her nieces and nephews come by to help set up. Friends and other family members stop by to exchange gifts and share in a delectable Christmas meal. “I love Christmas!” Mitchell says. “I love the colors, smells and the general feeling of camaraderie!”