Friday, December 17, 2010

The Christmas Village

AC went around the house last week taking pictures of all the Christmas decorations I put up every year, and he asked me to write about the history of the Christmas Village, so here goes...

In the early 1990's my mom thought it would be a good idea to start a Christmas Village collection of houses for me. The first year she gave me the brown/red house in the picture below, which is part of the Dickens Village collection and it is called The Shingle Creek House. Three years later Thesha painted the smaller red/white/green Christmas Shop also in the picture to add to my collection.
The next year, mom died suddenly and unexpectedly on Christmas Day. She hadn't been sick at all, and had no history of heart disease, but started to feel ill after dinner, and had a massive, fatal heart-attack that evening. I talked to her in the early evening and she sounded fine. She was excited about seeing us the next day and told us to drive carefully. That's the last time I spoke to her and have fond memories of hearing her happy voice telling me all about the wonderful Christmas day she had enjoyed with my sister and her family. We got the phone call in the middle of that night telling us she had passed away. What a shock.

The car was all packed with clothes, gifts and food; ready for an early start in the morning for the trip home to enjoy Christmas celebrations with family. We set off the next morning as planned for the four hour trip home. Only this time heavy hearts and sorrow blanketed all the presents and tinsel. Goodness that was a long trip. How difficult to make funeral arrangements amidst the holly and the ivy.

Christmas is a bittersweet time of year for me now, as those painful Christmas memories mix with joyful ones of all the Christmas's past. Yes, joy and sorrow, two sides of the same coin. Seems like you can't have one without the other.

Each year when I set up my Christmas village now I think of mom and that fateful Christmas day. All the happy memories associated with other Christmases mix with the memories of that up-side-down one and feelings are bittersweet indeed. As I arrange the cotton snow and dust off each house in the village, I let the emotions flow where they will and go where my feelings take me. Moving from the joy of the season into the shadows of grief, then back into the sunlight of all that is good in my life.

Mom had purchased another house for my collection that year, and had it wrapped and under the tree for me. I can't remember when I unwrapped it, some time in January I think. It is the blue house, called The Berkshire House, on the far right in the pic below. The next year Althegal painted the red and cream house which is the village library, in the centre of the picture and gave it to me for Christmas. The following year I got the house on the far left, The Stoney Brook Town Hall, from AC and the girls.
The next year the family added the Paul Revere Church to the collection, and Althegal painted the little green house beside it in the picture below.
Seven buildings seemed like the perfect number for my little village, so I stopped the collection at that. Below you can see the whole village as it is arranged amidst snowy hills on a shelf in the living room. Over the years I have added evergreen trees, ice skaters, carolers, snowmen and other winter characters to populate the village scene.
Each house lights up, so the village takes on a cozy glow in the evenings. I often turn off all the other lights in the room, so only the village and a few candles add light to the room. Then I sit with a glass of wine in hand and listen to Christmas music while my mind wanders down memory lane and in and out of the houses in the village. It's fun to imagine what's going on at the Stoney Brook Town Hall, or wonder who is speaking at the church, or try to smell the delicious things cooking in the Berkshire House, or wander through the aisles in the Christmas Shoppe to see what is on sale there. My mom would love the village in its completed state and would enjoy touring it with me.

Why don't you come on over for a glass of wine and a trip to the village with me. Be sure to dress warmly though because we will dash through the snow from one house to the other. Bring along your own memories to add to the adventure and enjoy a walk through the snowy landscape of your Christmases past. You'll love it! I sure do.


Bernie said...

What a beautiful post cuppa, and your village is lovely. I had one as well and have passed it on to my daughter, my mom had added to it as well as my daughter so it is filled with my case good memories but I still miss my mom so much whenever I look at our village.....:-)Hugs

Lorna said...

I could kick myself for not looking more closely at the village a few weeks ago. Not only is it lovely in itself, but it obviously created just the effect your mother would have hoped for. I love that the girls painted houses for you.

I'll be thinking about your mixed feelings on Christmas day. XX

Cuppa said...

Bernie - Me too. It's the memories contained in each house that make it so special. I didn't buy any of the houses for myself or pick any of them out, so each one came along its own path and I enjoy walking back along that path each each year.

Lorna - You'll see it next time. After Christmas I call it my Winter village and leave it up until the end of February. Maybe you'll make it out here for a visit and a glass of wine before then. We won't drag you all over the county this time. Just a nice quiet evening at home.

I treasure the hand-painted houses from the girls too. They also painted trees and snowmen that hold places of honour in the village each year. Priceless treasures indeed.

Thanks for the extra hugs you'll be sending along on Christmas day. Thank goodness the grands have plenty of those to spread around too. They sure add the extra "Sweet" to what is a bittersweet day.