Holiday family traditions in our home are a mixture of things my husband and I grew up with, and some new traditions we created with our own family. We go to church on Christmas Eve and put out milk and cookies for Santa (might have been beer and homemade bits ‘n bites last year!). The girls hang stockings for Santa to fill, but the adults don’t. Santa’s gifts are never wrapped and always arranged under the respective stockings.
Except for a couple of years, (one year the whole extended family went to Disney World) we have always hosted Christmas Day dinner with both of our families. It was important for us to have both sets of grandparents share in the joy of Christmas with the girls. There is nothing quite like the magic of Christmas with children.
When I was a new mom, my mother and I were browsing the displays in a local gift store. Upstairs in this old house they had several displays of Dept 56 villages, each with it’s own unique ambiance. Of course I was drawn to the North Pole series, the intricate details in the buildings and props made me feel like I was getting a glimpse of life in the North Pole. That day I purchased the Glacier Park Pavilion, a large piece complete with a Santa figurine and trees. This building not only lit up, but it had a magnet that moved two skaters in a continual figure 8 around the ice rink.
Each year after that, my mother and mother-in-law, would each select a piece to gift to me. Some of my oldest and dearest pieces are the Hall of Records and Elves Trade School. I also have another moving piece, which is the Reindeer Rides………an elf sits on the roof holding a rope that is attached to a child circling the building on the flying reindeer!
The collection grew quite rapidly, and at one point I had to ask them to stop gifting me the houses. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate them, but it was becoming difficult to find the space to display the village. I felt like I had completed my collection. And now each year as I unpack the carefully stored boxes, I am reminded of the thought that went into selecting each building.
Over the years I have tried new display ideas and locations to set it up. The buffet in my dining room will hold the entire village if I position everything quite carefully. But the last few years I have split up the village into a couple of smaller displays. One year I hung a tree branch from the ceiling and strung cotton balls to create a snow effect!
Some years I find I’m less motivated to unpack all the boxes and set it up. But if I’m a little late in getting it set up, my girls will remind me how much they enjoy it. Even though they are grown adults, it’s still a tradition that they look forward to. While they are studying for finals and writing papers, I have been preparing for their arrival home……