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  • Betty Girardeau

Christmas in the Mists of Time #3


The subtitle for this Christmas memory should be "Here's to Tiny Christmas Villages." I don't know whether my love of these is inherited genetically or by example. Either way the love of all things in miniature is something that I share with my Mother. The image with this post is a composite of my own Department 56 "Christmas in the City" and one of a little Christmas village my Mother created and displayed in the fireplace of our living room when I was a child. It was a good way to use that fireplace which, other than adding to the overall decor of the room, was otherwise useless. A previous owner had put in gas logs but there was no working gas connection. But at Christmas Mother would cover the logs and hearth with rolls of cotton "snow' and create a scene. I think our first Christmas in that house was 1947 and her creation was pretty simple with several of fake pine trees, snowmen, and a tiny sleigh. Behind the fake gas logs she had arranged some of the branches that had been cut off the bottom of the Christmas tree. By the next Christmas, though, she had bought quite a few more little evergreen trees and a cardboard village of about six houses and a church. The "snow" on the roofs of the buildings glittered, and the very best part was that the buildings had a single little light bulb in them and when the cord connecting the little buildings and hidden by the cotton snow was plugged in, the village lit up and, to my childish mind, came to life. I don't know how many years that village was used, but I was really unhappy when Mother decided it was time to retire the little village because the cardboard buildings were just looking too shabby. I had spent many happy hours every Christmas sitting or lying in front of the fire place and imagining all kinds of things about pretend people living in that little village covered in snow. I never forgot the joy it had brought me as a child, so when I was older and had started making some money of my own, I began collecting Department 56 porcelain buildings. That company makes several different Christmas "scapes," and I don't know why I decided to select the "Christmas in the City" one unless it was the little metal fire escape on the side of the first building that I bought. I could imagine tiny little people having to use it perhaps. My collection now includes six buildings and a park scene with a large Christmas tree. I have not put this scene together since 2016, the last year we were to host Christmas at our house. These porcelain buildings are real works of art, and I really should bring at least one of two of them out and use them again because I still love miniature things. Maybe I will.

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