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Home : News : News
NEWS | Dec. 14, 2018

Collette Christmas: spreading cheer every year

By Airman 1st Class Shelby Pruitt 502d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

From the outside, building 901 is nothing special from the other structures on Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Little do outsiders know, a holiday wonderland exists inside the building this time of year. 

Just like most offices around the wintry season, some Air Force shops take part in decorating for the holidays, even if it’s just dusting off and staging the 3-foot tree stored in the basement. For Marc Collette, Headquarters Air Education Training Command A4R Logistics and Readiness Division command equipment manager, the holiday season is a time to transform his office into the epitome of a workshop, fit for Santa’s elves. 

Collette started the annual tradition of decorating his office after going through a divorce in 1997. As the holiday season is usually considered the “greatest time of year,” the divorce took a toll on him and his two children, Victoria and Justin. To cheer up the kids he asked the question that started it all: “Do you guys want to go help daddy decorate the office?”

Every Christmas following that year, no matter where the Air Force took Collette, Victoria and Justin reminded him about decorating his office.

With lights, stockings, hats and wrapping paper accumulating throughout the years, Collette has a full arsenal to use for his office masterpieces.

Every decoration is purchased with his own money and he utilizes his family days after the holidays to set up. Typically, the day after Thanksgiving is the day when Collette starts dragging the holiday totes from the basement to continue the tradition.

“Those that know, it’s expected,” Collette said. “For those that don’t know, it’s definitely talked about.”

As he tries not to impose on anyone’s workspace, Collette focuses his creative design on the common areas but also likes to throw a little cheer in every single desk space.

“There’s a Santa hat on each chair, everybody has their individual stocking with their name on it and I refill bowls with holiday candy on each desk,” Collette added.

Collette said his wife, Casey, embodies great creative talents and typically leads the decorating for the main entrance.

“As always, she never disappoints.” Collette said.

“I think it’s beyond amazing what he does not only with the decorating of the workspace but how he makes sure that he personalizes the decoration in such a way that every single person feels a part of it,” said Master Sgt. Joselyn Leon Berdecia, HQ AETC A4R Logistics and Readiness Division command equipment manager, and co-worker of Collette for two years.

In addition, Collette wraps the dull gray cubicle walls with holiday wrapping paper, precisely hangs ornaments from the ceiling tile and decorates a blinding white holiday tree placed in the front entrance of the office.

“It gets everyone into the holiday spirit and a really good mood,” Berdecia said. “It’s impossible to feel down or sad when you have so much color and cheerfulness around you.”

“That’s my humbling feeling, my satisfaction,” Collette confessed. “If I was able to light up somebody and make their day, so be it.”  

Although he doesn’t do it for the glory, Collette is somewhat of a celebrity around the office during the holiday season.

“The decorations are something to admire,” Berdecia said. “He takes the time to personalize it, making you feel special. That’s what the season is all about.”

Not only was this a way to pick up his family after a hardship, but this was Collette’s way of giving back to the Air Force.

“This is coming from my heart,” he said. “I’ve given my life to the Air Force and this is my service and thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to work in an environment like this and with people like this.”

Even as his children are now grown and may not be able to make it to decorate, every year Collette continues the tradition.

“I don’t know when I’ll stop,” Collette admitted. “I don’t know if I can walk in here on a Monday morning after Thanksgiving and it not be decorated.”

Collette has made a positive impact on his family during times of hardship and office through the holiday season. Even with just the seemingly minuscule act of decorating his office, Collette has sparked the holiday spirit and sense of giving back.