My grandfather began collecting Department 56 Christmas village buildings when they first appeared in the mid seventies. He and my grandmother had quite an impressive collection by the time I first started paying attention. He died in 1999 and his widow began giving my wife and I buildings to start our own village when we were married that same year. We have a closet full of them and they’re so detailed and cute but my desire to drag them out and set them up began to wane about eleven years ago with the arrival of our first child. The unrelated cynicism regarding life in general that began five or six years ago certainly didn’t help me get into the Christmas spirit enough to deal with these bulky bits of electric ceramic annually. They sat cold and boxed in the closet for a long time.
Last year I dug a couple of buildings out a few days before Christmas and put them either side of the record player next to my desk. Tonight I rotated a couple of other ones and placed them in the same locations. Molly O’Brien’s Irish Pub, the Hi-De-Ho Jazz Nightclub, and the little ice fishing shanty. Think I might keep that fishing shanty out all year.
I’m trying hard to avoid thinking whether this indicates a renaissance or a mere seasonal melting of heart. I’m trying hard to just be. Just exist. Just experience the way life cuts a path like a river cuts a landscape.
When I was in middle school I used to go over to my Aunt Maureen’s house after Thanksgiving and help her put up all her Department 56 villages, which I love more than everything, because, TINY CHRISTMAS-Y THINGS. When she passed away, and I was about 13, she left them all to me. This photo is probably about a tenth of what I have. My parents grudgingly keep them all in their crawlspace for me.
I put this table up about two hours ago, unknowingly preventing myself from being able to do literally anything besides look fondly over at it every twenty seconds or so. Yep, it’s still there. Oh wait…ok yes still there, aw! Oh my god, look at how pretty it looks now that the sun is setting. Wait…is it…ahhhh yes it is still adorable.