Cardie in December - The Decorations
The decorating my aunt did for Christmas was more magical than the whole rest of the year's decorations combined, in my humble opinion. And I wanted to be a part of it.
The tree was its own thing completely (hence the separate post) but the surrounding decorations just made the whole feeling of the holidays more special. The details made everything feel warm and meaningful.
As always, she arranged most of the decorations per her vision but the tiny town, that was something we enjoyed doing together.
The Christmas Town.
I'm pretty sure it all started at Joann Fabrics, in Lancaster, PA. I remember their Christmas section just to the left of the cash registers. They had a small, ceramic town displayed and we pointed and squealed and jumped up and down at the sight of it all. After carefully choosing 3 or 4 buildings to get us started, we spent the rest of our time in the miniature town accessory section. We had to make it look as real as possible, right? Tiny ceramic people, street lamps, shrubs, a Santa and his parade and a cobblestone street were chosen to adorn our town. We were ready.
Oh - and did I mention that all of our buildings had the ability to light up on the inside? I know, I know. Not only did the town look spectacular during the daytime but come nighttime, the lights were flipped on (you know, like a real town) and your heart just stopped. You could stare at it for ours - and we did.
We settled on a small buffet table in our dining room for the location of our town. We spread out green felt over the table to set the scene and then rolled out the cobblestone road about an inch from the front of the table. You may or may not be surprised to hear that it took us quite awhile to mull over the placement of each building.
"No, the train station can't be next to the Inn. That would be too loud for the people in the town."
"The garden center and sewing shoppe (yes, shoppe) both have a lot going on - let's split them up."
Height and width were also a factor. It was a very precise science this town designing. It was definitely not for the impatient, at least in our home.
Once all buildings were placed, we organized the cords into an extension outlet and made sure all of the bulbs worked. Back in the day when we were first starting out, I had to climb under the table and spin the dial for each building to become lit. This bothered my aunt. So after some time (a few years to be exact) she discovered a remote control system. No crawling under the table. No confusion over which cord went to which building. Just a flick of the remote button. I'm pretty sure our tree was hooked up to the same system. If there was an easier way to do things, my family usually figured it out.
Once the ground was laid, the street secure and the buildings in place, it was time to make the town come alive with people, landscaping and drum roll......snow!!
Our town was diverse. We had a few different races and walks of life. Many of the people were on the go but a select few we set up around the front of the road to watch Santa and his sleigh and a small children's band ride down the street towards them.
There was a man chopping wood in front of the Inn and a young woman and her daughter leaving the bakery.
Some of the tiny details - like the street lamps - weren't scaled to size (they were about as tall as the adults) but it added a bit of quirkiness that made the whole town a little less stuffy and perfect.
And the piece de resistance of our town was the delicate sprinkling of snow. No, not those weird heavy flakes with bits of shiny plastic in it but instead feather light, white, tiny specks of snow just a little bigger than table salt. It was mesmerizing. It looked like the real thing. I remember standing close to the town, letting small handfuls of snow fall down and rest in the dips on the roofs, on bushes and all over the ground. And when it got dark and the lights warmly illuminated the buildings with people making a purchase in the bakery or looking for a poinsettia at the garden store or the little cat playing with yarn at the sewing shoppe, you could see the light glow through the snow much like it would in real life.
It was fun to imagine what everybody was doing. Where were they going? What was their story? Are they from the town or visiting for the holidays?
Our best addition over the years was a natural ice rink. By this time, we were big enough that our town was divided in two or three spots around the house and one spot was dedicated to the ice rink and its skaters. This area warranted white felt instead of green. And over the white felt went the mirrored oblong circle that resembled the ice rink. We had a few ice skaters, a bench and a small grouping of tall pine trees.
We grabbed one of our buildings before heading on the road, so I'll try to remember and take a picture. It won't be the same but it will be a little piece of what makes this time of year remind me so much of my aunt. She loved our Christmas Town and I loved the memories we all made together around this decorating tradition.