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    For a few weeks every year, familiar rooms become utterly transformed as holiday decorations glitter from the tabletops to the walls. However, some folks prefer to keep cherished family treasures and a spiritual aura in their homes every day. Visitors to these homes delight in a serene, holiday spirit that is never limited by a date on the calendar.

Special to the Orlando Sentinel

Sissy Meyer’s collection of crosses actually started with jewelry.

“I was drawn to beautiful, artistic pieces that I could wear,“ she recalls with a smile.

But when she and Chuck – her husband of 52 years – moved into their Mediterranean-style home, the collection grew to include decorative furnishings.

“When we moved in 14 years ago, we hung the first wooden cross outside our front door,” Meyer says. “Our neighbors loved it so much, Chuck made a copy. He can do anything.”

Today, there are hundreds scattered throughout the eclectic residence. Some are almost invisible: Crystal and silver crosses cluster on a tabletop in the living room. Yet others command attention: A group of hand painted wooden crosses highlight the wall above windows in the sunroom.

“My five children call this my chapel,” Meyer says laughing.

It’s easy to see why. With their golden faux finish, the walls hold metal, silver, ceramic and wooden crosses from all over the world. A bright red ceramic cross from Capri hangs near colorful Mexican versions.

“The mixture is what makes it fun,” Meyer says.

Above the arched doorway, an iron cross that once adorned a signpost in France still bears fragments of concrete at its base.

The spiritual ambience of the home does not escape many visitors.

“Everybody pauses when they come in this house,” Meyer says. “They feel something, here.”

In January, Meyer hosted a luncheon for the African American women of the small, river-bend community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, during the exhibition “Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt” at the Orlando Museum of Art.

“They prayed, they sang and they didn’t want to leave,” she says.

Raised Episcopalian, Meyer has been a student of the Bible for 40 years.

“I don’t usually talk about it because it’s a very personal thing for me,“ she says. “I guess you might say the crosses are a reflection of what’s inside me.”

Meyer admits she is still collecting and points to her newest acquisition – a cross from New Orleans – which she must find a spot for. “It’s just a passion of mine.”

Author Barbara Milo Ohrbqach would agree. In her book, Antiques At Home, Ohrbach writes, “Emotions, like antiques, are not an exact science. If you love something, you should buy it.”

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