Saturday, I decided to set up my Christmas village. I hadn't set it out since the Man-Cub started college, and, since it's one of his favorite holiday decorations, I decided that this was his year. The effort required to set up the display demands that we have it up for long enough to fully enjoy it, and, since we are planning to be in Mayberry for Christmas, I didn't want to wait until after Thanksgiving to assemble it.
I've been collecting pieces of the Dept. 56 Dickens Village for decades now; my earliest pieces go back to 1988, and many have since been retired. I currently own twenty-five buildings and twenty accessory pieces in the series, a fully functioning carousel, a working fountain, and an animated skating rink, as well as a forest-worth of trees and bushes and numerous generic filler pieces, such as lampposts, fences, etc. It takes quite a few boxes to store the village and more than a bit of time to construct it.
If you've ever considered starting your own collection, or, already own one and are interested in some tips for assembling your display, read on!
Step One: Transfer boxes from the attic, garage, storage unit, warehouse....wherever you store your village. Stack them in an area of your home that creates the most opportunity for creating tension in your marriage; this will ensure that you construct the village in a timely manner.
Step Two: Set aside a realistic amount of time in which to construct your miniature city. I've found that one hour for each two or three items is sufficient. I wish I was kidding.
Step Three: Dial up the Hallmark Channel; you'll need the cheesy schmaltz to fortify you for what is to come. As an aside, coffee liberally spiked with Baileys, a bottle of wine, or a few shots of whiskey are also recommended.
Step Four: Get started. Realize two minutes into the first box that damage must be repaired and prepare to do battle with the glue gun. Burn fingers, immediately. Switch to Gorilla Glue. Glue fingers together. Thank yourself for thinking ahead on the Baileys/wine/whiskey.
Step Five: Bemoan the janky condition of the original packing boxes that the village pieces came in, assuming you kept the boxes, which, you should have, although, if you didn't, no judgment. But, you really should have. Anyhoodle, nothing an entire roll of packing tape won't fix.
Step Six: Stare at the space where you will construct the village. Spread pieces out across every flat surface available.Feel overwhelmed by the chaos surrounding you and wonder where to start. Decide to Google examples from other village builders. Go down the rabbit hole that is You Tube. Resist the urge to purchase a warehouse full of foam sheets and a hot tool with which to make awesome landscaping pieces; remind yourself that it took a Herculean effort just to get the boxes out of the attic. Log off the computer.
Step Seven: Spend the next ten hours arranging and rearranging pieces. Curse your inability to accomplish any degree of efficient cord management; fear burning down the house. Dismiss this as an irrational fear. I mean, right? Make a mental note to move the fire extinguisher into a more accessible location. Just in case.
Step Eight: Place the final tree into the display. Step back and observe the fruits of your labor. Realize that your back is killing you, your feet hurt, and you are starving and semi-dehydrated. Dose yourself liberally with ibuprofen and another glass of wine. Maybe eat some cheese; you've earned it!
Step Nine: Clean up your work space. Return the original packing boxes to the storage boxes; accept the fact that you have no chance of winning an international Jenga contest. Throw hands up in frustration, apply the vacation-packing method to the boxes by sitting on them, suitcase-style until the lids close.
Step Ten: Enjoy your village. Try not to cry when you think about disassembling it six weeks from now. Drink more wine.