The year was 2009. We were just beginning to feel the impact of the 2008 housing crash. We’d recently added over 500 square feet to our little cottage, but were unable to put the construction costs into our mortgage because housing values had dropped so low. We were left with 35,000 dollars worth of borrowed money at high interest rates. Swarming in debt, (and ill-prepared to afford new village houses), I decided to shop second hand for my own snow village.
I had a best friend that taught school with me, before I came home to be with my kids in 1997. In fact, we’re still friends. She doesn’t live close by anymore, but she did drop in at my daughter’s state championship game last spring. When we taught school together, she had the original Dept. 56 Snow Village. In fact, she still has her village, and displays it each year. Her “Snow Village“ was my dream.
I didn’t have the money for a new snow village, especially not one from Dept. 56. So, I headed for the thrift stores. I procured all but one of my eclectic snow village buildings from local charity stores. My husband and my second-oldest daughter bought the Bait Shop at Walmart. It’s my favorite, because the coastal vibe is perfect for the South Carolina coast. However, each building pictured below is special to me.
The schoolhouse is my second favorite. Although I’m a homeschooling mama now, I still love the little red schoolhouse. As you can see, my collection is not cohesive. None of the buildings match as far as time frame, or style. That’s ok though, because I still remember the thrill of finding each affordable treasure unbroken, and intact. So many times, thrift store snow village houses have broken chimneys. Missing cords or light bulbs are not a problem, and can be easily replaced. I like to put colored light bulbs in my snow village homes.
I’ve always allowed my children to set up the snow village, and play with it. If it had been more expensive, my children would not have had this luxury. My second-oldest daughter, the one that just went off to college this year, was always the one who set the village up for me in the past. I had a crying jag this year as my youngest daughter and I had to plug it in by ourselves.
For the finishing touch, I added a Christmas puzzle we worked about 5 years ago. I have two Christmas puzzles, glued and framed, that I put out each year.
I bought a large grouping of Dickens Village houses (Dept. 56!) from a neighborhood garage sale on Hilton Head Island last year. For a split second, I thought about displaying it instead of the snow village pictured above. The more I thought about using the Dickens Village houses, the more I realized just how much my eclectic snow village means to me. Although it’s mismatched, second hand, and compiled of buildings from different eras, it brings back memories of the best era of all- the days when all my children were here at home with me. While I’m excited for my kids, and the adventures ahead of them, I will always cherish memories of Christmases when they were small.
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