“When I put out the Santas I think of my parents, my sister, my daughter, and most of all my husband,” said Newton, the wife of the late Dr. Maury Newton, a local cardiologist and internist with Holiday, Mims & Newton.
“My mother loved Christmas. She instilled that in the entire family. She was very traditional,” said Newton, a Virginia native who moved to Marietta with her husband for his work.
Newton said the original St. Nicholas was a bishop so the symbol has religious meaning. She started collecting Santas in the ’70s after she married.
“I didn’t know the history of St. Nicholas but that’s what I gravitated to,” she explained.
Newton started a family tradition. “My mother collected them. Now my sister collects them. My sister passed it to her daughter, Kimberly, and I passed it to my daughter, Lucy,” she said.
Newton exhibits her beautiful collections of Santas throughout her Kennesaw home. Because of the extent of her decorations, each year Newton enlists the help of local designer Tony Whitlock.
Perhaps her most loved collection is a group of Santas created by Betty Bales, her mother’s best friend from Virginia.
“Betty is part of our family. She bought greenware that was already fired and painted the Santas. I liked the antique look,” she said.
Newton’s largest Santa by Bales comes in two pieces and sits by a Christmas tree covered in sterling silver ornaments started for her by her mother. “We always thought Betty could do everything,” Newton said.
Newton also collects Santas by local artist Ron Ransom. The first one she bought was from an antique shop on the Marietta Square before Ransom numbered his works. “I thought that (Santa) was not like anything I’ve known before. It was different. I liked it. I’ve watched Ron grow and develop. I am so fond of his work,” Newton said.
Among her other collections are Santas carved from wood by Jim Shore that Bales started for Newton, a tree decorated with St. Nicholas ornaments, a Waterford Santa collection started by a patient her husband treated, and exquisite Santas in velvet coats trimmed with real fur and leather and adorned with personalized articles handmade by Peggy Little, deceased.
Another tradition that Newton observes during the holidays is to make trifle. “(Trifle) is cake and cream with some spirits thrown in for flavor,” Newton said.
Newton first put her recipe in the Junior League of Cobb Marietta’s cookbook, “Georgia on My Menu.”
“I have tweaked the recipe since then,” she said noting that instead of ladyfingers she uses homemade cake and omits the almonds.
Newton developed her recipe after looking at other trifle recipes over the years. “The final result is what I put together,” she said.
“(Trifle) is good. It’s festive. It’s cake and cream, custard,” Newton said.
“Christmas is all about family and tradition. You create memories along the way and the tradition just brings them to the forefront,” Newton said.
1-quart custard (recipe follows)
pound cake or 2 layers of a white cake
3 cups or more of fresh raspberries
½ cup red raspberry preserves mixed with ¼ cup cream sherry
7 egg yolks
¾ cups sugar
1-cup milk, heated
2 cups heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons orange liqueur
1-cup heavy cream
sprinkling of sugar
Make custard by beating egg yolks and sugar. Add milk, cream, vanilla and cook in a double boiler (uncovered) until thick, stirring constantly. Strain and cool. Add orange liqueur to custard.
Layer in large bowl in the following order: Cake brushed with preserves mixture, half of custard, fresh raspberries, and repeat layers.
Assemble the trifle the day before serving and refrigerate. Before serving the next day, cover the top with the whipped cream and mound with raspberries in the center.
Optional: Crumble coconut macaroons between cake layers.