The Christmas Village

Homes speak to me, especially older homes. They call out with all kinds of ideas, usually excellent, about decorating or renovating. Problem is, they keep badgering me to make the changes.  At times I think I could end up with something akin to the Winchester Mystery House.

Long time past, I moved into a new-older home one February.  There was an enormous bay window in the dining room, with a built in shelf across its base.  It called out to me. 

I need a Christmas Village.

That was all that was needed. I pretty much did the rest on my own. 

Because I had never even seen a Christmas Village, other than a group of Victorian homes sitting on a blanket of snow, it seemed that a bit of  research was in order. I wanted a village that would fit on that very large window shelf.

Like Christmas trees, there are all kinds of Christmas Villages on the internet and YouTube but, unlike trees, not a lot of practical information — more in the neighborhood of Show and Tell.  

It didn’t really matter; I had my own personal bay window with its own personal plan:  it wanted a downtown area with a Christmas carousel as well as a mountain area for winter sports and an outlying home area.  oh, as there was a bit of an ocean view from that very large bay window, of course the village needed some water, a shore, a lighthouse and a couple of sailboats.

This had all the makings of a Winchester Mystery Christmas Village, which meant that the next step was pricing said village.  Holy Mackerel, after looking at the retail prices, I could purchase a real village with its own mountain and ocean front resorts. 

Then I remembered Ebay.  March and April are not particularly high demand months for Christmas villages and I got some very good deals.  The village just sort of grew and grew.  I was fast becoming the Christmas Village mogul or sucker, depending on your point of view.

As the boxes arrived, one after another, the postman began looking at me like I was nuts.  Perhaps he was correct.  He finally asked if he could see this village once it was finished.  I invited him back for a December show. Now, I was committed. 

I realized I had no idea, and the internet was of no help, as to how to actually build the village.  The pieces were all sitting on the dining room table, ready to go but the questions were Where? How?

I knew the mountain area had to have height, so I pulled out the grandkids’ old wooden block set and built a mountain.  In time, the framework actually stayed upright and held a village piece, then a second piece and a third.  Whoo Hoo! 

Next came the town and outlying areas.  As I had purchased everything piecemeal, not everything matched, but oh well, that’s the way it goes. Few people even noticed.

The electrical was interesting which is another way of saying it’s an electrical nightmare. It still is. I have visions of my dad, an electrical contractor, sitting on a cloud, shaking his head and keeping watch over the maze of wires and extension cords that worm their way through the wooden block formations.  It all works, thank you, Dad.

The last part was putting on the snow, ice and small pieces that make the whole visual move and dance.  People walking, kids building a snowman, well, you get the idea. This was getting more and more complicated.  I wondered if I would soon need a script.

Finally, everything got packed away until December, when I discovered that the trial runs were time well spent.  The village went up reasonably easily for a two day project and ran all through December. 

My four young grandsons delighted in it and wanted to visit often over the years.  I learned about the current superhero by who was left on the ski slopes to prank me.  I’ve entertained Superman, Spiderman and Darth Vader among others. 

What I didn’t expect was that grown up boys — aka, men, including Mr. Postman — also took as much delight in the village as my grandsons and would spend great amounts of time reminiscing over the village as well as wondering how a mere woman could build such a monster.

It’s been a number of homes since the home of the original large bay window, which is no doubt very sad and empty this December, and I realize that this will be the last year of my hosting the Christmas Village; the grandkids are growing up and superheroes, Santa and family Christmases at Grandma’s are fading into warm memories. 

It’s no doubt time the village gets divided among the boys so that they’ll be ready to entertain their children and grandchildren in future Christmases that I suspect will come all too quickly…

 

 

 

 

Deck the Halls and Flip the Tree

IMG_0231I did it.  I bought a flippen’ Christmas tree. It’s a beautiful artificial Nobel Fir that does really flip. I figure I’ll have to decorate it for at least eight more seasons to make this an economically sound purchase. On the other hand, the tree is far less expensive than therapy or vacations in the sun during the dark winter season, which means I’ve now rationalized my purchase.  That was easy!

It is a beautiful tree, artificial or not.  Kimberley, who help me through a rather prolonged selection process, is absolutely correct — get the tree that speaks to you.  This one definitely does.

It’s a bit of a new concept to me, flipping the bottom two-thirds of a 7.5 foot, very full Nobel Fir Christmas tree from an upside down position over four locked wheels to a right side up tree.

Now, instead of arguing with myself over the best tree, cutting it down, getting it tied atop the roof and getting it in and upright in a watertight container, I just wheel in the tree and quite literally flip the tree.  Put on the top third of the tree, easy peasy, plug in the light cord into the socket and I’m practically ready for the holidays.

Well, not quite.  First the needles need to be fluffed. Who would have thought?  From what I can gather, the first fluff should take a couple hours; next year will be easier.  I figure a bit of eggnog or wassail and brandy should make the whole process a lot more painless.

In irony or ironies, the flippen’ tree came with two pairs of gloves which I found hysterical.  I know, there’s only one of me and I come with the requisite two hands, but even if Mr. Santa were around, and there have been a few over the course of my adult life, I can’t recall any of them that got much beyond the getting the tree into the stand stage of setup before disappearing to watch a football game, mow the lawn, clean the gutters or anything that has nothing at all to do with decorating the Christmas tree.

So, fluffing the tree with Mr. Santa?  Wishful thinking, I’m afraid, but a nice thought nonetheless.

My friend Terry, who is also the best cat sitter I know (she made me say that), stayed with BlackJack over the Thanksgiving holidays, fed him turkey and now the darn cat won’t touch cat food.  She also provided the comic relief after I returned home from the kids and began setting up the new Christmas tree. 

I rolled the tree out of the closet, down the hall and into the living room, locked the wheels, flipped the tree, fastened its safety belt to make sure it doesn’t flip back on its own, stuck on the top and plugged it it.  It was enormous — much larger than I expected, but whoo hoo, I did it all on my own!

Two hours later, with Terry and me still laughing at the absurdity of it all, the tree was fluffed and ready for decorating.  Honestly, the tree is so lifelike and beautiful, it could have stood without an ornament and have been a stunning Christmas centerpiece.

nah. Of course I decorated the flippen’ tree and, like all Christmas trees, it is perfect.