Monday, January 4, 2010

The Village of the Damned, Part 6

Click Here to read this story from the beginning...

So at this point in my unchecked fever to have the best village display ever, I had created a multi-ethnic mix of various product lines, with everyone living happily side by side in my little Christmas dominion. We are the World. Well, We are the Village, anyway. Baby steps.

And at the end of the day, I only had slight buyer’s remorse. Yes, I had shamelessly broadened my horizons by straying far and wide, snapping up anything I desired from a number of manufacturers. I had willingly entered into multiple intimate relationships. Sort of Mormon-esque, you might say. (Oh wait, they don’t do that polygamy thing anymore, do they? Just checking.)

In any case, I spent a ton of money that winter of madness, and I do believe I was personally responsible for keeping the American economy out of recession. Of course, no one thanked me for this great deed, but that’s fine, I prefer to make my philanthropic gestures in a quiet and discreet manner.

But it wasn’t ALL fun and games. As the season drew to an end and it became time for the sad but necessary dismantling of the village, I ran into the first seriously negative repercussion of my wanton lust for porcelain.

Where the hell was I going to put all this stuff until next year?

See, I had been using the main attic for Christmas storage. Initially, I had only needed a small portion of said attic for my village, and there was peace and harmony. But lately, things had been getting a bit cramped up there. And now I had an additional 25 or so boxes that needed a summer home.


Thus began a major reconfiguration of storage options in our house. The central plank in this new urban vision was that the main attic would now be known as the Christmas attic. Only yuletide ware could be placed in this attic. Anything that did not fit into this category would have to live in the secondary attic over the garage, in one of the storage sheds out back, or would simply have to find a new home entirely, no matter how emotionally distressing this might prove to be.

Terry: “You need an entire attic for your village? Have you spoken to a counselor about this?”

Me: “It’s not JUST the village. There’s all that other stuff, the two trees, all the Christmas lights, the decorations, the wrapping paper. All of THAT can still go up there. The rest has to go.”

He just looked at me.

I just looked at him.

He finally flinched and wandered off, probably to get on the horn with one of his relatives and complain about the atrocious living conditions he was forced to endure. Or maybe he just went to see what was on TV. I don’t really know. But I do know that I was left to move around all this crap on my own. Which I suppose is just, since I was the one who had created the storage crisis in the first place. So there you have it.

And my supposedly innocent remarks that the main attic would be “for all things Christmas” have since proved to be evil falsehoods. Within the next few years, as the village population grew, the Christmas trees were shoved into the other attic, the Christmas lights were banished to a storage shed, and many treasured Christmas items that I thought I could never part with were downgraded to landfill occupants for gulls to pick at.

By the time the dust settled on LAST year’s holiday season, the only non-village items left in the main attic were a few boxes of wrapping paper and a handful of decorations that had survived the purging of heirlooms. These things were shoved in a tiny corner, surrounded by towering stacks of village boxes. I’m sure these poor guys were bullied all summer by the rowdy village boxes, with teasing and such. I don’t care. I love my village. At least until I find another obsession.

The situation DOWNstairs was just as grim. In the front room, which has basically been known as the Village Room for many years now, I was totally out of real estate. At the end of 2008’s village construction period, I had used up every available inch in the room. Buildings were shoved in every crevice imaginable, and even then, the previously-unimaginable could not be avoided:

After the frenzy of 2008’s purchases of new buildings and the resulting need for more space, I actually had to sit out a handful of older buildings. There was simply no room. This grieved me greatly, but it could not be avoided. Something would have to dramatically change in the next year, or I would be in a dire situation.

Flash forward to 2009.

It was crunch time. I had no available real estate. Yet I knew that I could not control myself as the new editions in my various product lines hit the stores. What to do?

First off, there was the season-opener race to Kohl’s to ensure that I quickly gained ownership of every new building that St. Nicholas Square was offering. There was no discussion on this matter. This is the one fundamental rule of my Christmas villaging that has not changed. I get everything in that line, every year. I don’t care what the obstacles are. This will happen, and it will happen with precision.

Luckily, I happened to enter Kohl’s at one of those rare moments when the store was not packed with 15,000 rude, screaming people fighting over something stupid like a toilet seat with a built-in stereo. In fact, it was eerily calm as I made my way to the Christmas section. There wasn’t a single soul in that department to challenge me in my quest.

Not sure what was up with that. I mean, it would be a nice ego boost if the locals had all finally realized after all these years that I would stop at nothing to secure ownership of everything St. Nicholas Square, and had organized a contingency plan if I happened to show up with my platinum credit card, ready to wreak havoc on the inventory.

(Betty Mae, sitting in her pickup truck in the Kohl’s parking lot, texting her best friend Louella Sue: “OMG! Brians here! We aint got a chance! Plan B! Go to IHOP for the prayer circle! Save the children!”)

Anyway, I managed to wrangle all the necessary village boxes to the front of the store, and amazingly only had a short wait until I reached the check-out counter. But, of course, there was still enough time for one of those annoying Kohl’s shoppers to think she could speak to me as if we were acquainted in any way.

Up hobbles this older woman, with her smelly coat, ugly shoes, and fake but shockingly vibrant auburn wig that looked like something a plumber would snake out of your toilet, gasping in shock. (Did that thing come with batteries? I can see the color from Nebraska.) And then, spying all my village boxes, says something that country folk always say, thinking they are being funny and original: “Did you leave any for me?”

I just glare at Simply Red. “No. I did not. There’s nothing left. Go home. Pray that Jesus didn’t see you wearing that thing.”

Anyway, I make it through the check-out line (Don’t forget to stack your coupons! I got that batch at 40% off sticker price. Never pay full retail at Kohl‘s!) and lug everything to the car. I race home with a frenzy, ignoring all traffic considerations such as stop lights, proper lane-changing etiquette, and the simple courtesy of acknowledging that there are other drivers on the rode besides myself. (In other words, I drove like a Texan.)

Yet as I pulled into the driveway at home, I realized that my over-exuberance had its limits. Namely, there was no point in dragging the new possessions into the house, because there was simply nowhere to put them. I would just have to drag them out of the way when I began the village layout. And once construction started, even more older houses would have to be sent to the bench, a painful realization that I didn’t want to accept.

Drastic measures were needed. I had to strategize.

First step, I stood on the patio and smoked a cigarette. In the overall scheme of things, this had relatively little productive value, but it was important for me. When the wheels of my mind are spinning madly, trying to gain ground on whatever though process I’m engaged in, the nicotine does something for me. It’s a focus agent.

As a thin plume of blue-gray smoke wafted upwards, I analyzed the previous years of real estate layout in the front room. I was already at the point where most of the furniture in the room was being utilized for the village in some way. But then it hit me that there were two holdouts.

The couches. There were two couches in the room that I had previously just covered with sheets (fake snow!) because I hadn’t realized their true potential. There had to be some way to…

I stabbed out my cigarette and thundered into the house, terrifying Scotch the Simple Cat and sending him scurrying to parts unknown. I threw open one of the pocket doors to the front room and marched inside. My mind clicking with inspiration, I snatched all the pillows off one of the couches, tossing them to the side. I located one of the many folding tables I had acquired over the years as annexed real estate, this particular model being a 2X6 foot contraption with special legs that could be extended if needed.

I unfolded the table, ratcheted the legs out to the longest length, hoisted the thing in the air, and then carefully lowered the table, long-wise, over one of the couches. The legs on both sides just barely touched the floor in front and behind the couch, with millimeters to spare.


More real estate.

Problem potentially solved.

I needed more of this exact table. Was this a possibility? Since it had been a while since I purchased this particular model, it took me a while to remember that I had purchased them from Sam’s Club on a whim several years earlier. Once I realized this, I raided Sam’s and was astounded to find they still had the same model. I threw those things into my industrial shopping cart like a man possessed.

A few days later, it was time for the official village construction to commence. Here’s another sad thing (if you choose to perceive it in that way) about my village addiction: I take two full weeks off from work around Thanksgiving in order to work on the village. Okay, this time is not ALL about the village, I also shop for presents and decorate the rest of the house, but really, we all know the focus is on the village.

This process takes time to do it right. But by no means is this a burden in any way. As I’ve mentioned before, Christmas is a very special time for me. And those two weeks around Thanksgiving find me at my happiest, working on a village that brings me warmth. It’s personal, a time for me to cherish a thing that is close to my heart. Every single piece is precisely placed for my own satisfaction. I honestly don’t care if no one else in the world ever sees my efforts. It’s for me. And shouldn’t we all do something just for ourselves?

But now you can get a glimpse as well. Nothing beats seeing the real thing, but pictures can take you close. The following snap is courtesy of my sister Dawn, an ace photographer. (Have you ever tried shooting in total darkness where you can’t use a flash? Tough job.) It’s actually just a small portion of the village, and we’ll see more in the next post, but I absolutely love this shot. The mood and lighting is perfect, and if you look really closely, you can actually see my reflection in one of the mirrors on the far wall, second from the left (click on the pic to see a larger version).

Me and my village….

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series...

1 comment:

  1. O H EM GEEE

    I can see you in the mirror!!!!

    This is reminiscent of the "area" that we've photographed previously that has a "presence".

    I have chills.

    And Dawns photograph? reminiscent of Paris. The girl is a gd photg genius.