Department 56 and me

Hi, it’s Bonnie…

Village on Vintage Ladder

Village on Vintage Ladder

Department 56 and I have a love/hate relationship. One of my sisters bought my other sister, Robin, and I each a 3 piece starter set in 1987. Of course we fell in love with it so since then we have bought a piece for each other almost every birthday and Christmas. They started making these villages in 1976 and Dicken’s Village in 1984. We both collect Dicken’s but Robin also collects the Halloween series. ( See, I can control myself a little.)

So like any collection, it is a little out of control. Not to say that we have all of them-because we don’t-they come out with several new ones each year. But we both have about 60-100 houses, businesses, and vendors-selling mistletoe and hot drinks and such. Sometimes we buy each other the same one without knowing.
We have ordered online, I got some at the Rose Bowl, some at Canterbury

Vintage House

Vintage House

Gardens in Escondido, some at Stats in Pasadena and Whittier, some in Napa when I lived there, and some at a store we loved called Windsor Cottage in Rancho Cucamonga which is now out of business. Windsor Cottage put on a tour each year at Christmas where you could go to 4-6 different collectors houses and see their villages displayed. It was so much fun. Almost like trick or treating! First you would meet at the store, get refreshments, look at the new pieces, then they would hand out a map showing the houses on the tour. It was wonderful because one-the collectors who did all the work, could see it was appreciated and two-because we got to see the private setups. You would not believe the beautiful incredible ways they arranged these villages. Trains ran through them, snow fell into the scenes, skaters moved around ice rinks. Every house had refreshments, some were decorated from top to bottom, and it was a great night always. We did the tour for several years, and sometimes there was a Halloween one too. I have searched for other tours and never found any-if you know of one please comment. I now have a group of 10 people searching for one. Or maybe next year, we could start our own.

Dept. 56 Village

Dept. 56 Village

So after last Christmas when I barely decorated (had a bad knee), I decided this year I would put out the villages-no, some of the villages. We went to Junk in the Trunk in San Diego and I bought a ladder. Anyone on Pinterest has seen these ladders with Christmas villages, can’t say I was original. Then I conned my son into buying and cutting wood to stretch across the steps for my birthday present. I am beginning to like projects rather than presents. We got it in the house and it was up to me, no one else left to blame!
I have a shed full of holiday decorations so first I had to hire a friend to help me get to the villages. That was 3 hours of packing away stuff I had thrown in the doorway all year and 2 1/2 hours of me cussing and dragging trash away. My organizing fairy took the year off. After we unearthed the villages I started bringing them in the house. It takes awhile to unpack because they are in styrofoam boxes and break easily. But I did it! Then I arranged them by shelf-businesses on one, houses on the next, and I planned to put a church on the top. Best laid plans-it was a little too wobbly, making me have nightmares of it falling on my 92 year old mothers head during Christmas dinner. I ended up buying a gorgeous lightweight angel at Driving Miz Daisy ( $6.00!!) and placed it on top. I put batting on the boards and a border of fake snow and we were ready to go. 6 hours later and the top picture is the result.

Dickens Village

Dickens Village

I love the way it looks and I love the villages. The houses all have names ,like Blueberry Cottage and Hollyberry Cottage, I have 2 post offices, since I worked for them and two English mailboxes, even 2 different churches and several pubs-do you think there’s a reason for them??? Hmmm. It may not be decorator heaven but it works, and I did it!!!

I had a little get together to show them off and they were a hit. Now to get through 16 people at Christmas Eve without any breakage and then I get to repack, re-cuss and back they go-to my nice clean storage. Since I have so many I thought I would mark the boxes with the year and next year use the ones I couldn’t fit this time. That way I can see them all without killing myself to overdo it. Those days are gone.

I hope you enjoyed my story and looking at the villages. I plan to leave them to my granddaughters and hope this tradition goes on… They are beautiiful and charming and I have gotten so much happiness from them, I hope they will too.

Thanks for reading…Bonnie

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing!

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