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CHRISTMAS VILLAGES

In past columns, I have written about Mrs. Richard’s little Christmas village, and how through my eyes as a child, it was the most perfect, most beautiful Christmas decoration I had ever seen. I was not going to write about it again this year, but as I set up my own display again this year, I decided that I could not help but retell the story yet one more time.

Frank and Henriette Richard were family friends and our families spent a great deal of time together. My most vivid memory of Mrs. Richard is of a holiday supper she invited my family to at her home. She had a wonderful sense of style and I loved everything in her home. She had many beautiful holiday ornaments on display., but what caught my eye most that night was her Christmas village. The ceramic houses were beautiful, each one with lights beaming brightly in Mrs. Richard’s dimly-lit living room. The colourful lights shining through the stain-glass windows captivated me and I keep returning to the display time and time again over the evening. I could not get enough of Mrs. Richard’s colourful village. I could see each detail of the little houses in the village. Through the tiny windows, I could see the interior of the church, of restaurants and of homes. I loved how the tiny town glowed and twinkled. I had never in my short life seen anything like it. I loved that tiny village and I decided that night that I would have one too when I grew up. Soon after that Christmas meal, Mr. and Mrs. Richard moved away to British Columbia and I never saw them again.

But I kept that childhood promise to myself. The first Christmas after I left home, I purchased a little plastic village. Each year, I took it out of its box, set it up, plugged it in and admired its beauty. Eventually, the plastic village gave way to a beautiful set of ceramic houses given to me one Christmas by my husband and sons. It sparkled just like Mrs. Richard’s had in my childhood. My village has grown over the years. Most of the pieces have been gifts given to me by my family. I write the name of the person who gave me each building and accessory so that I will never forgot who gave me each piece.

Every Christmas season, one of the first things I do is to set up my beautiful and ever-growing village. I love each house, store, restaurant and the people who inhabit the village. As I plug in each house and place each character, my mind always wanders back to that little girl who gazed so lovingly and longingly at Mrs. Richard’s creation.

She is long gone now, and never knew how her winter scene would stay with me and that someday I would have my own village, just as I had promised myself so many years ago. She would never guess that, after all these years, I think of her each Christmas as I set up my own village, inspired by hers. This year is no different. As I set up my display again, I silently thanked Mrs. Richard for his inspiration and wished her, and everyone who has given me a piece of my village, a very Merry Christmas.

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