Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Christmas Village Interview!

Interview by Anna Maria Junus  - Assistant to the Executive Director of the Lacombe and District Historical Society

Dennis and Elaine Wilson have been setting up their Christmas Village for years. This year they move the village out of their small apartment and into the Flatiron Museum. While Dennis was working hard at setting up the village (there is a lot of snow to fall, lights to light, and trees to plant), I sat down with Elaine.

Let's first talk about you two. Where were you each born? Tell us about your family.

Dennis was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He's the oldest of five brothers and sisters. He was born deaf and received a cochlear implant in 1989. I was born in Kelvington, Saskatchewan. I have an older brother and a twin sister. We were the first set of twins born in Kelvington. We were mirror twins. Complete opposite. I was blonde and blue-eyed and she was black haired and brown eyed. She was right handed, I was left. She was petite and I was not. We were opposite but close. My grandfather suggested that we be named Ida and Ido. I probably would have gotten Ido. I'm sure happy my mother had the names already picked out. My sister's name was Lorraine. Elaine and Lorraine.

Where did you and Dennis meet?

We met in Red Deer. There was a dance at the Legion. He asked me to dance and that was it. Game over. It was 1999. Then I moved to B.C. where I got my Master's degree, and Dennis, for twenty-six years worked at Juniper Emblems here in Lacombe and now he's been at Red Deer Exhaust. He would come and visit me and he asked me to marry him. So I did. We got married in 2000 and then we moved back here.

Do either of you have children?

I have three girls. Dennis had never been married before and doesn't have children.

When did this Christmas village first start?

Dennis and I were married August 12, 2000 in Langley BC and the village started in December of 2000 and it has increased, increased, increased until it was the village or the furniture.

What was the first piece?

It was the four piece Norman Rockwell village and the nativity. Every year we added to it. This year we spent another four hundred dollars. When we do it at home it's only certain pieces we bring out.

Do you have stories for any of the pieces?

We were friends with another couple. When they found out that he was dying of cancer they gave us their village.

Which ones are your favorites?

Dennis loves them all. I like our new one that has the girl making a snow angel. And I like the gondola. Come see the village. Pick your favorite.

How many pieces do you have in your collection?

With the little people and everything, he's got to have close to three thousand. Dennis doesn't let me unpack, pack or set them up. Even the little people he individually wraps. Do you think I have the patience for it? I would just throw them in a box.

Have you ever broken anything?

Yes. That's why he doesn't let me touch them. I dropped a house on a house and that was the turning point. I went to hand it to him and I thought his hands were out and it dropped. You would think I had smashed the whole village.

Where do you normally set up your village?

It's always been set up in the front room with me moving my furniture into the spare bathroom and the spare bedroom. We live in a small apartment. I've gotten down on my knees and thanked you guys so many times. My house is clean!

Is your house going to seem bare now that your showing your collection at the Flatiron this year?

Not at all! We're still putting up a Christmas tree. I can have company sit on my chesterfield in the living room. I can have a meal at our kitchen table in the kitchen. For three nights before Christmas we used to have the door open for people to come in and view the village and have a snack.

How long does it take to set up and when do you usually start?

He starts in November or early December. Dennis is such a quiet person when he works you don't even know he's there.

Is there anything you would like to get for the collection that you don't have right now?

If we could afford it, I would like to get more movable parts, like another train so we could have two. A coal train or a passenger. Dennis likes to put the train around the tree.

Thank you for the interview Elaine!

The Christmas Village will officially be on display throughout the Christmas season on November 29th. Look for other seasonal displays as well. The Flatiron is getting all gussied up for Christmas! And while your there, cast your vote for your favorite piece!

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