Every year on the day after Thanksgiving we begin getting ready for Christmas, just like many of you. For us that doesn’t mean shopping, which I prefer to do online as much as possible. Instead I spend the day at home with my own little crowd, and get the help of the next in line to bring a little Christmas cheer to our place.
From the Christmas just before I was married to the last one she spent here before going to be with the Lord, my grandmother bought me a new Dickens Village building each year, along with lots of little accessories. When our kids were younger I would carve out a few hours on the day after Thanksgiving, get them occupied elsewhere in the house, and spend that time carefully arranging the miniature village in hard-to-reach low-traffic locations in the house. I’d set up ye olde houses and stores in little clusters with bustling crowds of old-fashioned people and lots of fake snow. I loved changing it from year to year, adding the newest from the previous Christmas and plotting out new places in our home to display my lit-up charming collection where they wouldn’t get broken. After a few hours of work (and play) at this task, I’d light it up, show the kids, tell them not to touch anything, tell them again, remind them once more, and quickly shoo them away.
A few years ago that all changed. Our son Scott was eleven at the time, and offered to give me a hand. In the previous few years I had used him to entertain our younger kids while I worked on it, but our twin boys were now five and our daughter three, and they were capable of entertaining themselves far from the action. After seeing the different perspective Scott brought to the process I realized we had a new tradition in the making. I watched as he carefully placed things in unique ways I’d never thought of, and marveled at how fresh and new it all looked when he was finished. The other kids loved what he had done with the village and wondered when they would get to try it too. It was decided then and there that the kids would take turns each year being my special helper, from oldest to youngest.