Lisa Q. Mathews

It Takes a Village

Yep, it’s Cyber Monday. Lisa here, and I have no special deals or discounts or super-jolly ads to offer you. Yes, we authors always love it when readers buy our books, ho ho ho. But this short post is dedicated to those of us who love the holidays, but hate the pressure.

Here’s what it felt like on Thanksgiving, even before the turkey had (literally) hit the table:

That’s right, by 4 pm. the stores were already open. And sorry, Monica, but a lot of people were already well ahead of you: trees up and fully decorated. Bless you, every one.

After a few hours of non-stop football, I made the mistake of glancing at my phone. The Black Friday emails were flooding in, and I probably deleted some actual emails in my rush to keep up with (i.e. delete) them.

By the time I woke up the next morning, I had more emails to let me know those fabulous discounts had been indefinitely extended (no doubt through Valentine’s Day). But to tide me over for that dreary rest of Thanksgiving weekend, there were preview emails of Cyber Monday deals to get rid of (I mean, review carefully). Escape to Facebook scrolling? Not so fast, holiday elves. The ads just kept coming, and they seemingly included every one I’d opened by mistake in email.

I am notoriously slow in getting my holiday act together, but there’s one tradition I anticipate way ahead of time: Assembly of the Christmas Village. I used to have just a few pieces, but over the years my “village” has grown into more of a city. (Especially after a kind Facebook friend recently sent me 75 new pieces—including a cool ski jump–via UPS when she moved to FL.)

I think it’s a rather interesting city, because it has a lighthouse and a woodsy cabin and charming New England village green, surrounded by a bunch of city Victorian brownstones and teensy little people (and a lot of Golden Retriever dogs) from the 50s, the Victorian Age, Colonial Boston (oyster house!), and the present. The Irish beer guy has a cart outside the Irish pub, with the Germans pounding pints in the Rathskeller next door. (This village has lots of pubs and churches and a bookstore.) There is also a large pond for ice skating, surrounded by a multi-pebbled stone wall that has to be painstakingly reassembled each year due to deficient glue and destructively-clingy cotton.

I’d love to tell you that I carefully and lovingly dust and place each piece, and wire the whole shebang for electricity. But no. That is Number One (and Only) Son’s favorite job.

Well…maybe not his favorite. Every Thanksgiving he asks, “So, Mom…Are *we* putting up the village this year?” And what kind of mom would I be to disappoint him?  He rolls his eyes, but I know he loves it. Especially setting up all the little Victorian lampposts that refuse to stand up, even with tape or glue—and when one goes down, they all do. Quick, summon the 1950s fire brigade!

Here is a photo of No. 1 Son surrounded by boxes on Christmas Eve morning, hours before the little nieces were due to arrive. (I was chopping stuff in the kitchen, I swear.) Nothing like a little procrastination to help really build that creativity. It runs in the family, I think.

But here he is, all done, receiving heaps of praise and gratitude seconds before the kids arrive:

He, um…hasn’t seen the ski jump yet. It’s still packed down in the basement. A few months ago, though, he mentioned that we might need to build additional levels above the city. No worries, I own the air rights, so we’ll just set a wrecking ball on that pesky hanging picture.

A few years ago, I found a battered newspaper article about some woman in Upstate New York who had four separate rooms of Christmas villages in her house. (Who the heck left that in one of my many village storage containers?) Anyway, she opened it to the public for viewing, because, well…why not?

I’m not that crazy lady, of course (*cough*). But the real-life holidays are coming, time for carols and beer and church and dogs and Santa and trains that don’t chug anymore—plus the grand opening of a (sort of) brand new ski jump. Forget those shiny deals and suck-you-in ads from Cyber World – teensy citizens of Christmasville, we’re on our way!

25 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. My mom and I hit Snow Village hard in the 1990s. These are some of my most treasured Christmas memories. Great to hear your tradition.

    Hope everyone (and their inbox) is surviving cyber Monday!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Your village is adorable! I have one maybe 1/4 that size that we haven’t taken out in years. Since it’s just me and hubs, if we don’t have anyone coming home for the holidays (which I try to discourage), we don’t have to do any decorating, shopping, or baking. It’s quite liberating. But I love seeing and appreciating everyone else’s decorations!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Lisa, I love your village SO much! You have to post the ski jump when it’s up. And boy, do I envy you that basement. Here in SoCal, it’s slab foundations all the way. I’d write more but I have to delete all the Cyber Monday emails in my mail box. So that will fill the rest of the day, ha!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The emails seem to be getting worse. First it’s the “preview” emails that start before Black Friday. Then the real emails start, reminding you every 30 seconds to an hour that the deals will be gone soon. When are we supposed to actually find time to shop when we’re so busy deleting emails?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I so LOOOOVE your village, Lisa! But I think it must be an East Coast thing, because us West Coasters don’t tend to have much more than the usual crèche, with perhaps an added Santa or snowman (or in my case, tiki, since I’m in Hawai’i at Christmastime).

    Or maybe it’s because–as Ellen noted–you easterners have actual BASEMENTS in which to store all the items for the Christmas villages. Wow. What a thought. In fact, that’s what I want for Christmas–a real live basement!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ours is pretty big. Several rooms. One is just for Christmas (I kid you not.) I inherited all my parents’ Xmas decorations and also have some
      of my grandmothers’ and even my great grandmother’s. (They are some kind of clay, and too fragile for a tree.)

      Like

  6. I love your Christmas village!! So cute and cozy!!

    Even though I’m in the ad business (and am guilty of writing my share of Black Friday ads), I absolutely hate the onslaught. My daughter, on the other hand, lives for them– and deals on things like four packs of scrunchies because, really, who doesn’t need four more?

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s so funny about the scrunchies, Kathy! I didn’t mean to put down Black Friday so much—not sure where that extra venom came from! But I bet the ads you write are sooo much better!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s only the second, and I’m feeling like decorating just isn’t going to happen this year. Or ever again. Having fiscal year end on December 1st is a killer for doing anything outside of work. But we will see.

    Liked by 1 person

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