Every year, I look forward to putting up my village at Christmas. I started collecting the Department 56 Dickens’ Village in 1996. My boss’s wife had a few houses on her mantle and I really liked them. Then one day, I walked into Kathies Christmas in Camp Hill, PA, to get a Christmas present for someone and saw their displays – I was hooked! After that, Kathies Christmas became my favorite store. I used to joke around that when people would win the lottery, you would see them on TV saying they were going to buy a house and a car. If I ever won the lottery, I would call Kathies and tell them I want one of everything I don’t have in the Dickens’ line. And of course I also discovered Department 56 on eBay. My favorite eBay store is 100cats4us – check them out!
Everyone always asks how long it takes me to put my village together. I don’t know exactly how many hours, but normally it takes about a week. This year took a lot longer but that was because the theme of this year’s village seemed to be “redo.” I think Ramsford Palace was one of the few pieces that did not get moved at least once. The river even ended up being moved several times. Even after I put the lights in, I shifted several houses. I definitely need to fire the planning commission before next year! But of course, it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!
I have several of the multi-light sets that I use so you don’t have to deal with a ton of plugs. The longest set is a 20-unit set. I also have several houses with specialty cords so you have to make sure those houses are not in the middle of where you plan to use the multi-light cord. I counted out 20 houses to make sure the cord would work where I wanted it to work. I got down to the end of that cord and had an extra light – the bean counter did not count right! I was at the front row on the right side of the river and not at a place that you could just stick another house in. Fortunately, I had St. Ives Lock house in the corner and it was on its own cord. I moved the lock house and canal down some so the lock house was close to Abington Lockside Inn and was able to use my extra light without having to restring 20 houses.
A woman that works for the doctor that I see for my foot collects the Snow Village. She told me that her daughter yelled at her for putting a bar next to a church. She said that she did not realize that she did it. This year, I ended up with the Horse & Hounds Pub next to Thornbury Chapel. They didn’t start off being next to each other, but the Horse & Hounds Pub was one of the houses that got moved after I put the lights in and I really didn’t have anywhere that I could move Thornbury Chapel to.
My cat is now nicknamed the village Godzilla – she knocked all the Palace guards over! Before I got the people out, the dog was also walking thru the village. Let’s just say that putting the tree and village near the window was a mistake!
When I lived near Harrisburg, I belonged to a Department 56 village club. There were some people that left their village up year round but I think I would get tired of it if I saw it all year. Plus, I put things in different places so it is not like you look at the exact same village either.
Since I moved away from the Harrisburg area, I do miss being able to go into Kathies Christmas to look at their displays and get ideas. Last year, when I was Googling village ideas, I found out that people actually put their village on YouTube. I did that for the first time last year. It also makes for an easy way to share your village pics with people. I have my 2010 YouTube village video below – sometimes, you can click on it and watch it here on WordPress and other times, there is a message that the content is restricted and you have to click to watch it on YouTube. Guess that depends on which way the wind is blowing at the time you click! If you want to check out my 2009 village or my Literary Classics series, they are on the “Dickens Village” page on the sidebar.