Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Lena Nash sits in the sunroom of her Duluth house, holding "Frosty."
DULUTH -- Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines addiction as the act of "devoting or surrendering oneself to something habitually or obsessively."
According to Cecil Nash, that definition describes his wife's condition quite well.
Lena Nash has a weakness for snowmen. Stuffed, glazed, glittering and glowing, they stand smiling from shelves and tables. Her mania spares no corner of the home.
Every year as Christmas nears, her husband drags dozens of boxes out of storage. Lena unwraps them with care, placing more than 1,200 stuffed and ceramic snowmen strategically throughout every room.
"I used to go out all the time shopping for clothes," she said. "Now I'm addicted to snowmen. I don't know how to explain it."
Cecil said it's a hobby that "I'd like to say is out of control, but it isn't, because she organizes them a certain way and she has methods for it."
Lena finds herself walking through the house and reorganizing them. "I go to sleep sometimes, and I'll wake up thinking I need to change where one of them is," she said.
She can pinpoint the day when it all began.
"About eight years ago, there was a department store that was going out of business, and they had all these snowmen on sale. They caught my eye, and I fell in love with them," she said. "I bought 100 of them right away."
Cecil said since that day the collection has ... snowballed.
He recalls that the couple once returned from Gatlinburg, Tenn., "with a truckload." Most recently, they went on a trip to Colorado and bought more than they could fit in the vehicle.
Lena's strategy? Waiting until after Christmas when they're on sale. "That's when you get the good deals."
Cecil bought his wife's most prized piece, however, before Christmas.
In November, a catalog-ordered Thomas Kinkade statuette snowman arrived at their doorstep. "It's definitely her favorite," he said. "Oh man, she loves that one."
No matter how many snowmen she owns, there's always room for one more. "We said we'd stop doing this about 200 snowmen ago, but we didn't," Cecil said.
Lena said the only downside to her obsession is waiting for the holiday season to come. This year, she didn't make it past October. "I was putting out the snowmen before Halloween," she said.
Cecil is supportive of his wife's addiction.
"I have to live with her snowmen 24/7, but it's turned into somewhat of a thrill for me," Cecil said. "I enjoy buying them, and I'm proud of those snowmen."