In terms of my mini-house hobby, the apple did not fall far from the tree. My mom didn’t build dollhouses (although, she did make beautiful porcelain dolls), but she loved tiny houses–as in, those Christmas villages that are all over craft stores.
Christmas was her season, although, my dad had a creative bent and was an enthusiastic co-decorator. Even after my brother and his family moved across country and our celebrations shrank to just mom, dad, and me, they still went “full Christmas.”
I would visit for the day and we would tackle our respective tasks: dad set up the tree; I strung the lights; mom dressed it. Mom arranged her many creche sets and the villages; I decorated them. Dad chose music, lit the fireplace, and handled outside decor.
After I inherited the villages, they mostly ended up in storage. I never had the energy or enthusiasm to decorate the tree and set up the mini towns; one step too many. But 2020 changed everything.
This COVID Christmas season it was the tree I couldn’t get into. It’s always hard drumming up excitement for Christmas decorations in southern California with 70-something days and clear nights, not a sign of precipitation, and not a snowballs chance of, well, snow. And this year, with the monotony of lockdowns and closures and restrictions, one month just bled into the next. It didn’t feel like December, let alone the holidays. Still, it felt important to maintain some sort of tradition. Life needed some life. Then it hit me: the villages. It seemed even more appropriate because of my recent dollhouse hobby.
For once, it didn’t feel like a chore. It was like Christmas morning, unpacking buildings and trees and tiny people and trains, all components of city life, wrapped individually by mom in her ever-so-meticulous way, and most of which I hadn’t seen in the better part of 10 years. I set up the “big” village (Department 56) and the “tiny” village (sort of 1/144 scale resin houses). I added the skating pond; lights; one simply decorated table-top tree, and, voila! Christmas!
It turned into the most fun I’ve had decorating in years. I remembered the good times of setting up those scenes so many years ago. All in all, it was one of the bright spots of this pretty bad, not great year.
So, Merry Christmas, mom; Merry Christmas, dad. I’m thinking of you.
And Merry Christmas, readers, from my house to yours.