VAUCLUSE, S.C. — Maryann Zeliznak had decorated bridges in Vaucluse with greenery and ribbon for several years to spread Christmas cheer. This year, she transformed the town’s historic post office into “Santa’s Workshop.”
“I thought how nice to spread joy to people that they could see it at a distance, all the lights, and it looks like Santa’s Workshop, so I’m giving back to the community,” Zeliznak said. “The postmaster, he’s OK with doing the decorating and spreading joy.”
The building dates back to the early 1900s, said Tom Jasak, an Army veteran who works part time at the post office as a postal clerk. He also liked Zeliznak’s idea.
“I can’t decorate, but I like to try to keep stuff festive, and plus this is a small town. It would be nice to show everybody the spirit of the holiday,” said Jasak, a New York native who works 24 to 26 hours a week at the post office after retiring from the Army after nearly 21½ years of active duty, which included stints in Iraq.
A New Jersey native, Zeliznak worked for the postal service in the Garden State for 20 years before relocating to Florida, where “it was too hot,” and eventually Vaucluse.
“I like to blow the horn for Vaucluse,” Zeliznak said. “It’s a friendly, peaceful, kinder, gentler town. God couldn’t have found someplace better for me.”
She began decorating bridges in the community five miles from Aiken more than five years ago.
“Every year I always decorated that bridge, but there’s 40 sections,” Zeliznak said, pointing to the Walton Street bridge next to Vaucluse Pond. “That’s a lot of greenery, and I’m 65 years old. I can’t do it myself, and I couldn’t get an elf to help me this year, so then I got the idea to do this instead.”
Zeliznak, who also decorated the bridge on Old Graniteville Highway at one point, said transforming the post office took about four hours over two days.
There are lights on one side of the building, attached to the side door, and around the windows and on the walls inside. Several small wrapped packages hang on the walls, along with a small Christmas outfit. There is also a box of candy canes for customers near the mailboxes.
Candy canes and greenery hang at the front and side doors, and both sides of the front door feature a miniature red stocking. There are two red and white bows attached to the railing leading up to the steps of the entrance.
Two snowmen reading “Let It Snow” and “Happy Holidays” hang on the outside of the building, while vertical pipes and the post for a satellite dish are wrapped in red ribbon to resemble candy canes. A flue pipe is wrapped with silver ribbon, and there’s a flag of a toy soldier near the entrance.
While Zeliznak enjoys decorating and touting Vaucluse, she said that is only part of her job during the Christmas season.
“It’s not enough just to decorate. When I used to do the greenery on the bridge, every person that went by, I had to stop what I was doing and say, ‘Merry Christmas,’ otherwise I’m only doing half the job,” she said. “You have to spread the cheer person to person, not just decorate.”