AUTHOR: Carolyn Savage | POSTED: December 11, 2010 | COMMENTS: 2 Comments
CATEGORIES: Holidays, Tags: "Norman Rockwell", Christmas, gadgets, less is more, nostalgia
Every year I have the boys give me a Christmas list and this year, after the car door slamming incident, I’m guessing that Drew will have an iTouch on his. It’s hard to imagine that it is already December, and the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations is upon us.One of the first tasks on my holiday “to do” list is decorating and I always tackle the outside first. Sean and I share a “less is more” philosophy with regards to outdoor decor. We hang some garland on our porch, put electric candles in all the windows, and a spot light on our front door. There was one year when we were more ambitious. That Christmas, I bought a plastic Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, built a manger and put them in our yard. Unfortunately, my craftsmanship was shotty, and the manger collapsed from the weight of the first snow. Poor baby Jesus was crushed in an avalanche, and Mary was permanently disfigured as her folded hands were severed from her body and never found. The next summer I sold the Holy Family in a garage sale (at a heavily discounted price seeing as how Mary could no longer reverently pray at the crib side of Jesus). After that incident, “keep it simple” became our outdoor decorating mantra!
Inside, I go a little more “all out.” We have a live tree (that we promptly wire to the wall since we have had a few “crashes”). I decorate the mantle, and hang stockings and wreaths in various places. One of our more labor intensive decorations is the Christmas village. My mom bought us the first piece of our “village” the Christmas after we were married. It was the “Old North Church” of the Dept. 56 New England Series. Since then Sean and the kids have bought me additional pieces. I have a few houses, a school, a few shops, and some churches. (Two churches to be exact. We think one is Catholic and one is Protestant. Not sure which is which.) I also have a few people to place in the village as if they are meandering through the streets, looking for Christmas cheer. Sean likes the village but says the “people” are where the whole scene gets a little creepy. He has a point. One of the figurines is a sailor with a duffle thrown over his back that kind of looks like a body is in it. Then there are these two guys holding overflowing mugs of beer. They look quite jovial but upon closer inspection they clearly have been over served at the town watering hole (which I don’t own). There is also a little girl who is holding a tattered teddy bear and wearing torn stockings. She looks like she’s been abandoned. (I usually place her by one of the churches in hopes that someone takes her in).
After I get the whole village set up, it becomes a source of wonderment and mischief for our kids. MK is totally into it this year which is why we have strategically placed it out of her reach. The boys occasionally move things around to see if I’ll notice. That would explain why I can occasionally be heard yelling statements like, “Why is the town crier underneath Santa’s sleigh?” or “Who decapitated Mrs. Claus and how did that happen?”
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in this mythical New England village. I imagine there would always be a white Christmas, and the town’s people often meet to ice skate after an afternoon of caroling. I’m sure the women of the village are completely organized. Their shopping is done, their cookies have been baked and decorated to perfection, and of course, their husbands think they complete all of their holiday chores flawlessly and never try and suggest a “better way” (I digress).
Sean and I were talking the other day about why the Christmas village is such an appealing decoration. We decided that it reminds people of what Christmas was like long before the responsibilities of adulthood and the twists and turns of life crept into their lrealities. Obviously, none of us grew up in a Christmas village, but we all harbor at least a few happy memories of holidays past. The village is nostalgic, and nostalgia allows us to treasure happy memories.
I hope when my kids are grown up and they come across a Christmas village, that they are able to shove aside the memories of mom and dad cursing a rogue strand of Christmas lights, or trying to squeeze an 8 inch Christmas tree trunk into a 7 inch tree stand (“I swear I measured it at the tree farm”), in favor of the memories of holiday love and happiness.