Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shoestring Christmas: Winter village

Collectible village scenes stir up those old feelings of want. They remind me of a childhood looking in from the outside, of other family's houses decorated down to tiny lamp posts.

We were struggling to hold a family together while everyone else we knew was busy dusting little villages with snow.

But now that I can afford my own Dickensian world, I find that I don't want one. At least not one that has to be packed and stored.

There are two ways to create family Christmas memories.

The first centers around "product": favorite decorations, new items for a collection, consuming of certain foods, the buying and opening of gifts.

The second memory maker uses process.

I want our family to remember the fun we had making wreaths, sticking cloves in oranges, driving around to look at lights. The "products" don't always exclude "the process," but they can steal the show if we're not careful.

Mothers, we are the family memory makers. It is up to us to build traditions, not just buy them.

We've created our own winter village scenes--of humble materials, but fun to design. At the end of each season, they are photographed and thrown away.

Next Christmas, we'll delight in another year's worth of ideas and be glad we didn't have to store them in the meantime!

Tips for making your own winter village:

  • Everything you need is in the kitchen. Save food boxes. Those with cellophane "windows" make great shops, aluminum foil "lakes", oatmeal box towers, etc.
  • Martha Stewart mica glitter is glorious, but table sugar makes a beautiful substitute. We "sugar" every building over wet paint or glue.
  • Shred old tissue for snow, or let the little ones have at a roll of toilet paper. At 25 cents a roll, it will be the cheapest blizzard ever.
  • Don't get overwhelmed by making an entire village. We usually make a building a day over a week's time.


Anonymous said...

I love your ideas for making your own village new every year. This is a wonderful idea, and will definitely build memories with your children.

However, please don't think that everyone who has a Christmas village of some sort neglects doing these things with their children, or that the villages are, somehow, also not a valuable memory. My village is quite extensive, but I purchased none of it. Most of it was inherited from my parents whom I lost in 1993. The rest were bought for me by my mother before her death. Putting out my mother's village every year is a lovely tradition in our home that my young boys enjoy every bit as much as I do, and they never knew either of my parents.

As you say, it's not the "product" or stuff of Christmas that matters, but rather the lasting memories and family bonding that are important.

Anonymous said...

No, no, I didn't mean to imply that Christmas villages or the people who love them are wrong. I feared that might upset people, but this is my blog and the Christmas village is a very personal symbol of my growing up. We were childen looking in other people's lit up, happy homes (both figuratively and literally) from the outside.

The decision to go Christmas-village-less as an adult is more about living clutter-free and keeping the focus on experiencing life without as much stuff.

Susan Godfrey said...

what a wonderful crafty idea! Thank you so much for sharing it! This will be a fun activity for the kids.

Someone Beautiful said...

I REALLY like this. :) Thank you also for a glimpse into your childhood. There is still time to make something like this, though I am not going to plan on doing too much more this year. If we have a rainy day and feel inspired, this would be fun and fun to look at.

Anonymous said...

Meredith -Please, please forgive me if my comment was at all offensive to you. It was certainly not meant to be, I assure you!!! I enjoy your blog a lot and visit several times every week. I understand completely what it feels like to be on the outside looking in. I think I was a bit "touchy" on this one for some personal reasons and should have realized that before commenting. As I said originally, I love your idea of crafting a new village with your children every year. What fun it will be to look back over the photographs with your kids in the years to come and remember all the fun you had constructing the village each year.

DonnaB said...

What a great idea! Thanks for sharing and I totally understand what you are saying about not having to store things year after year.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for acknowledging the importance of a Mother's role in memory making!! I just today was emailed one of those 'getting to know you' emails for Holiday time, and one of the questions was "what is most important about the holidays for you?" And my reply was that I am creating great memories for my son. It is so refreshing to know that there are other women out there who feel the same. Thank you and Christmas Blessings to you and your family!

Monica Wilkinson said...

I loved your emphasis on the "process" - thank you for the reminder! Love the candy shop!