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A Perkins Style Christmas

by Clare Coppa

Holiday celebrations can be as individual as a thumbprint, or as traditional as a holiday ham. Whether they reflect the earth tones of Kwanza, the blue and gold of Chanukah, the crèches of Poland, or the dragons of the Chinese New Year, holiday traditions are personalized by ensuing generations.

Chemist Dee Perkins celebrates the holidays with her own version of a traditional Christmas. Among the Yuletide reds and greens in the home of this accomplished business woman are silver spacecraft commemorating her technical ground support of NASA space missions, and collections of favorite cartoon characters.

Unlike the Griswald Family Christmas, Perkins’ display is not visible by satellite and won’t black out the neighborhood when activated. She succeeds with intricate designs of light and color that won the acclaim of the Kiln Creek community in Newport News, Va., where she resides.

“Each year I decorate both the inside and outside of my home for the Christmas season and each year I try to do something a little different,” Perkins said. “The outside decorations consist of mixed evergreen and holly garlands accented with red bows, white deer with red bows, an arrangement on the door, and small white lights in the garlands, on the deer, and in the bushes.

“This year I plan to add swags of lights in the windows. There is a Christmas tree showing through the window over the garage. For the past three years, my outside decorations have won the Kiln Creek Holiday Home Decorating Contest. In other words, my home has been selected as one of the 30 best decorated homes in a community of just under 3,000 homes.”

Inside are elaborate collections reflecting the childhood interests of both Perkins and her son Colby, a computer specialist living in Annandale, Va. Among a diverse assembly are 1940s ornaments from “Bambi,” and the original Starship Enterprise which hang out of batting range of her cats, Mia, Sam, and Tracey.

Perkins likes to craft centerpieces, tree skirts, and other items. She describes Colby’s favorite, which tops the living room tree: “I made the angel many years ago when I had time to make my own Christmas decorations. She has embroidered face, hair, wings, and halo. Her dress is a combination of embroidery, ribbons, and lace.”

This whimsy is one facet of a resolute business executive. The chairman of ASTM Committee D19 on Water, Perkins heads 355 scientists who develop voluntary consensus standards for water analysis. She increased sales from $100,000 to $5 million in seven years as president and CEO of Diversified Technology and Services of Virginia, Inc. Currently, she prepares successful bids for multimillion dollar accounts for The Bionetics Corporation, Va., a technical services contractor for the government.

At Christmas-time, themes of peace and friendship fill her home. “Included in the decorations are ornaments that celebrate peace on earth and the nativity. Each year I try to find a new ornament representing the lion and the lamb. The decorations include cross-stitched ornaments made by friends.”

Copyright 2000, ASTM