Judy Morrissette wanted grand-kids really badly.
So she went out and bought the next best thing.
The 73-year-old Edgewater resident started collecting Snowbabies, those tiny porcelain figurines of infants frolicking in fuzzy snowsuits.
And she didn't stop for 20 years, even though she wound up with 10 grandchildren.
Morrissette's collection fills an entire family room at her home.
"They're just so adorable, if you take time to look at them," said Morrissette, a retired auto insurance claims representative.
There are ornaments of Snowbabies on a Christmas tree that stays up year-round. There are Snowbabies on custom-built green shelves. There are Snowbabies over the door.
Some are technically "Snowbunnies," the same figurines clad in fuzzy rabbit suits rather than snow suits.
But all are white -- and together, it's a virtual blizzard in Morrissette's room -- albeit incredibly tidy and impeccably arranged.
Snowbabies sled, sing, ice skate, drive sleighs and cavort cutely with all types of cold-weather creatures. Penguins, seals, walruses and even a moose are part of the dioramas.
Limited edition figurines featuring Snow White, Matilda, and Mickey Mouse -- which add a splash of color -- are also part of the collection. A few even play music.
Morrissette enjoys the playfulness of the Snowbabies, as well as their simplicity. She's paid as much as $300 for a figurine. But it could be more.
"I'm not sure. I did it with such abandon, I didn't care what they cost."
There are at least 500 -- and, like a true collector, Morrissette kept the boxes. Some are part of the display, other are tucked away in the attic or in cabinets.
Morrissette doesn't even like winter -- she's more of a spring person -- but the collection is about self-gratification, not weather.
"I've never been a collector, but I have to appreciate Judy's ability to see art and put it together in a way that's interesting for everyone," said Morrissette's daughter-in-law, Mary Wallace of Annapolis.
There was an added bonus.
Wallace, who has four children, said they were taught from an early age to look but not touch.
"It gave them an appreciation for delicate items. From a mom's perspective, it was great."
Flurry of figures
Morrissette has plenty of other hobbies, including painting and photography, but Snowbabies were what really kicked her collecting gene into high gear.
She was on a mission to get every figurine produced and hunted for ones she was missing. "I'm competitive, I guess."
She compared the high of finding a rare one to "rolling the dice at Las Vegas."
Her husband, Don, vice president of Interstate Van Lines, helped.
"She's the collector," he said. "I pay for it... (But) I like them. We go down there and look at them."
For the past three years, looking is all they've done, since Judy's stopping getting Snowbabies.
She tired of receiving duplicates as gifts. Plus, companies were making it harder to get the limited editions. Special tickets were required, not to mention a trip to another state to enter a lottery just to determine who could buy one.
If she couldn't have them all, what was the point?
But the twinkle in her eyes and the smile on her face make it seem like the hunt could resume at any moment.
"You never say never." ___