MONTROSE, Ala. (WKRG) — Walk into Ruben Cadena’s house at Christmas, and you might be surprised at what’s looking back at you.

From almost every nook and cranny of the house, close to 1,200 nutcrackers. All shapes, all sizes, from all over the world.

Cadena says it began in 1985 when he gave the festive statue to his daughter when she danced in “The Nutcracker” ballet, and it grew from there.

“It’s been a habit for the last 20 years,” says Cadena, who starts unpacking and displaying the nutcrackers around Thanksgiving. He says it will take three or four days to get all the decorations up and they will stay up till the first part of January.

While the nutcrackers may be a tribute to his daughter, Cadena says it’s also a gift to his friends who he calls extended family.

“They all make me feel like they are a part of my family,” Cadena said. “They are all so loving, so I want everyone to feel the joy I see in their faces when they are walking around — ‘Wow, wow, wow!”

“In German folklore, nutcrackers symbolize a couple of things — good luck “and the nutcrackers are supposed to protect you, and keep your house safe,” says Cadena. If so, Cadena’s house is the safest in the neighborhood and filled with so much more than just luck.