By Rachelle Burkett-Rodarte
Christmas is almost everybody’s favorite time of the year. Giving presents, holiday church services, seasonal foods, decking the halls and trimming the tree, all make wonderful memories and timeless traditions. But the most common response is sharing time with family and friends. Making all those “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” memories with loved ones tops virtually everyone’s list.
One special memory that tops my list is decorating the Christmas village and train set under the tree. My mother would painstakingly arrange each and every piece of the village. She wouldn’t let anyone help. “Each house needs to be in just the right spot,” she would say while showing off all her favorites. All of us kids would be seated in anticipation. My dad would check the train cars, track and make sure all were in working order. “Can’t take a chance of catching the village on fire from faulty wiring.”
Now that my mom, dad and grandparents are spending Christmas with the angels, I’d do anything to have a big family to relive and make more family traditions. Fortunately, with the carefully persevered ornaments my grandmother brought from Germany, delicate depression glass cranberry relish bowl and, especially, the treasured Dickens Village, those precious Christmas memories come back to life. Just setting up the village makes me feel closer to all of my family again. It’s like stepping back in time. I sometimes shed a tear while looking at the beautiful decorations.
If you are like me, treasuring those precious memories and longing to experience the family traditions we had growing up, it was thrilling to meet an expert. On November 7 at the Christmas Place, I spent time with Melinda Seegers. She is the company historian for Department 56 and leading expert on Christmas villages. Seegers, known to collectors as “Ms. Lit Town,” was on hand Saturday afternoon to answer questions, even about obscure village and sign pieces. Department 56 is the premier manufacturer of treasured Christmas villages like The Dickens Village, The Original Snow Village, Christmas in the City, the Snow Babies and many more.
Additionally, the Christmas Place courtyard hosted a secondary market tent sale where one found great bargains on special edition villages and many hard to find pieces.