Posts Tagged ‘Dept. 56’

Christmas Decorations Part Two


It’s the LAST DAY of Art Every Day Month.  Tomorrow I don’t have to post!  Wahoo.  About now you’re probably saying, well you didn’t have to post every day anyhow. It’s been a bit excessive. In some ways, yes, of course.  But it’s been a self-challenge and a form of self-discipline to decide to do something and stick with it.  I’m sorry I haven’t been in the studio but that’s the way it is.  I’ve focused on photography and photo essays.

But for this last post I’m going to do more Christmas decorations because, as I said yesterday, they qualify as art.  So here we go.

First, Nikolai and the angel.  My mom made these.  Over the years I’ve debated whether to keep them or not.  I never was that fond of the angel, and Nikolai is getting sort of ragged.  But I’m so glad I still have them.  Because I don’t have my mother in the real sense of the word.  She’d never be able to create anything now, and she probably wouldn’t remember she had done these in the past.  She’s well, she’s happy, and she doesn’t know that she doesn’t remember.  When I take Nikolai and the angel out of the box I can see my mom – how she used to be, the interests she had, the love she had for the family, making a Nikolai for all of us four kids.  I’m getting a little choked up writing this so I’ll move on.

This isn’t any better because my mom made the snowman also,  A few years ago – I say a few but it’s probably 10 at least – she did a “tune up” because snowman was coming apart.  He’s still shaky, but I’ll keep him until he dissolves or otherwise disappears.

My sister gave me this silver tea pot.  I think she bought it at By the Water Tower Antiques in Exeter.  We like to go up there periodically and Cris and I both admired this.  She bought it, and  being my generous sister, she gave it to me.

The snowman plate is from a student, Ries Murphy.  I’m telling you his name because I want you to remember it.  He’s graduating from college this year and he’s enlisted in the Marines – but what Ries is, is a writer.  I knew it immediately in the seventh-grade.  I told him he was a writer.  He went through various stages throughout junior high and high school – he was going to be an architect, he was going to be a priest, etc. – but each time I told him no, in fact, he was a writer and he wasn’t going to be able to not write.

I was right, as Ries finally acknowledged.  His university degree is in creative writing.  I’ve read some chapters from the book he’s working on and it is brilliant.  He is brilliant.  I had many brilliant students in their own ways, but Ries as a writer, and William as an artist – well, writing and painting chose them, they didn’t choose writing and painting.  Sometimes you cannot escape your destiny nor should you try to.

I’ve had these little guys around for a while now.  These little figurines are something I would have avoided at all costs for most of my life.  I have an abhorrence for things that are “cute.” Somewhere along the line, that changed.  I love my little mice and the snowmen and actually purchased them – they weren’t given to me.  We have a “thing” in our family with us three sisters.  We like small things – little animals and so on.  Old broken ceramic animals.  Little figures destined for the junk heap.  We rescue them from the thrift stores. We give them homes and don’t want to break up the family.  We have them in curio cases and little shelves all over our houses.  Old printer’s type drawers make particularly good shelves.

And finally, we are at the North Pole.  Besides the Dickens’ Village, I collect Dept. 56 from the North Pole collection.  I started this because it’s the sort of thing that I, as a child, would have been delighted with.  I would have been enraptured and stories would emerge about the little village coming to life.  Since I have grandkids, I started collecting so they could similarly be transported to magic places.  Unfortunately, they did not seem to enjoy them so much.  Until last year. Annabelle was thrilled. She wanted to touch every piece and she looked for a long time.  Thank you, Annabelle. I expect Cooper to be similarly enthralled.

So here, in the back on the right, you have Tillie’s Tiny Cup Cafe.  Elves need a place to hang out and get a cup of coffee after all their hard work.  In front is the Hot Chocolate and  S’mores stand for a quick treat on the go.  Even people that live in snowy climates like ice cream, so the ice cream vendor is beginning his rounds.  And the Kris Kringle Elementary School is in session.  A lineup of elves is carrying some glitter garland through the snow because it’s time to decorate.

The gum drop tree in the back needs some help I’d say.  It makes me want real gum drops – I love gum drops but you don’t see them so much anymore.  Or maybe I’m not in the right places.  Reindeer Flight School is in session, while various elves rest on the candy cane benches.  To the left you can just glimpse the movie theater playing Babes in Snowland.

The Elf Spa is just the place for tired elves with sore muscles.  If they’re too tired to walk, they can take the polar bear taxi, who’s motto is “they will bear you anywhere.”  In the back, Santa surveys the entire scene from the bridge above the perpetually frozen pond.  It is a magical place indeed.

So that’s it although I should add one note.  After last night’s post, I went online and ordered Cratchit’s Corner, Bob Cratchit holding up Tiny Tim in the classic “God bless us, everyone” pose, and some carolers to annoy Scrooge as he tries to suppress all Christmas cheer.  It’s about time I added to the Dickens’ Village.

As we say goodbye to November and Art Every Day Month, I wish you the joy of decorating, if indeed you do decorate.   I usually say I’m not going to put out the villages this year, or not decorate but I always do because each decoration tells a story.

Decorating for Christmas: Dickens’ Village, Gurley candles and more


Second to last day of art every day month.  Y’all won’t have to see posts from me EVERY single day unless Gwen Bell is doing Best of Blog.  I’d better check.

Decorated for Christmas yesterday and today.  I’m calling it art of sorts so I can share as this post.

This is something my SIL (Jen’s husband) made for us years ago.  YEARS ago and I use it every year.  I think it’s called a Swedish Christmas Tree? This year it’s the centerpiece at the dining room table.  We’ll probably never sit there so it won’t be in the way!  I’m using a gold shawl as a runner – something I bought at Olvera Street last year.

These funny things are candlesticks my sister bought years ago as she was rummaging and reselling on eBay.  I wish she was still doing that except I bought too much of her stuff and she gave me too much.  But I use these every year.  They are different, that’s for sure.

Raise your hand if you remember these.  Gurley candles – they were so inexpensive when we were kids and to think we didn’t appreciate them because they were a dime a dozen, almost literally.  My sisters find these and buy them.  These were an Xmas gift from my Alaska sister years ago.  I just love them.  Nostalgia.  I’d like more.

Cost Plus World Market has been selling these little nutcrackers for several years and I’ve bought the ones I can find from places we have traveled.  I have Italy, France, China, Alaska, Mexico and England.  Next year I hope to get Hawaii.  And I hope we’ve gone someplace new also.

A couple of years ago I bought a giant pack of ornaments at Costco.  It just seemed like a good idea.  So I wrote each family member’s name on an ornament with puffy paint.  Cant’ really read them b/c I had to hang them high in the new house.  I used to put them on garlands up the staircase.  It was nice to have a staircase to decorate for nine years, but I am so happy to be on the flat land now.

More collecting: Dept. 56 makes various villages for collectors and I have been building a Dickens’ Village and the North Pole.  We used to have a theater in town called The Great American Melodrama, and my youngest daughter was cast in The Christmas Carol several times.  During those years I believe I had the entire play memorized.  When I became aware there was such a thing as Dept. 56 and they manufactured Dickens’ village pieces, another collector was born.

Starting from the left – because the display now takes up lots of room – we have Williams’ Coal Works and the house of Ebeneezer Scrooge.  I seem to have lost the light for Scrooge’s house but that’s fitting, isn’t it?  He probably wouldn’t replace anything that stopped working.

Moving along to Thomas Mudge Timepieces and the poulterer’s stand.  The little boy is standing there – he goes to buy the turkey for Scrooge at the end of the play and when Scrooge asks does he know which one, he says “The one as big as me?”

There is a coal wagon making a delivery to Mudge Timepieces, and next door is Scrooge and Marley’s Counting House.  On the right is Fezziwigs.  Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig are standing in front celebrating their anniversary.

Fezziwig’s delivery wagon is heading out past the town square.  The Chocolatier’s wagon is making Christmas deliveries also.  You can barely see the newstand in front of the park.

People are gathered in the town square, which needs maintenance because the sculpture on the statue has lost her head. Alas, she will remain that way.  People are sitting on benches visiting, and Father Christmas is making his way with a sled full of toys.

In the foreground, Bob Cratchit is pulling Tiny Tim on a sled.  Behind them is the knife sharpener. The Royal Stock Exchange is in the background.

Next to the stock exchange is a building of flats, and I think Fred lives there.  To the left is the East Indies Trading Company and to the right is the fire station.

This is the Old Globe Theater.  Some folks are riding in a one horse open sleigh.

Writing this has inspired me to check out what pieces might be available this year.  Oh my.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll finish the month with the North Pole.