After four days of running around, eating, visiting, shopping and errand-ing, I am finally settling in for the puttering I was hoping to get to much earlier in the weekend. The weather this afternoon was more reminiscent of spring than winter, so my husband put up our Christmas lights, (and, I suspect, created a shopping list of newer, shinier and better decorations to enhance the ones he spent all afternoon arranging), and he and my daughter are now putting up the Christmas village they put together every year.
The inspiration for the village came from my friend Sandy. When we were visiting her one Christmas more than a decade ago, Steve admired the Dickens village that graced the built-in cupboards in her living room. Sandy also introduced us to the Open House at a local gift shop (now shuttered) where we purchased our first - and many succeeding - pieces. The various buildings and figures now form a village that takes over most of the flat surfaces (with the exception of our table) in the dining room, and has expanded into the mudroom as well.
Our nativity graces the top of our entertainment center, where it has been since this time last year. We always leave it up until mid-January, sometimes later, but this is a record. Like the Department 56 village taking shape in our dining room now, the nativity was also purchased one section at a time.
A packrat by nature, I've always known that we accumulate new things every Christmas, but I never quite realized how many of our traditional decorations grew a little bit, one item at a time, each year. In addition to the village pieces and the now-complete Nativity, we also purchase an ornament each year that signifies something special about our year. We have ornaments from the beach, from Disney and one shaped like a house, purchased the year we bought our home. Last summer, we went on a cruise, so an ornament in the shape of the cruise ship will take its place among the Baby's First Christmas ornaments, Barbie and My Little Pony ornaments and my personal favorites - the projects made in school and Sunday school, many of which bear a photo of a much younger Leah.
The radio is playing Christmas songs, and Christmas is taking shape at our house. Christmas is a big deal for us, and we have many traditions, some of which I consciously perpetuate, others of which I am only vaguely aware. But together, one activity at a time, they add up to our family's holiday season.