Many years ago I painted ceramics. There was a great shop not far from me and I spent hours there, creating all kinds of stuff.
My most favorite thing is the Christmas Village I made in 1985.
I've put it out every Christmas since and once I had children it became the centerpiece of our Christmas decorations.
The Island Girl would sit for hours and move the little people around, playing “Christmas Village.” It was so sweet watching her take them shopping and caroling.
Right about the time she grew out of playing with it, the Oldest Island Boy came along and was just as fascinated with it as his sister had been.
He brought his green army men out and would spend hours invading the village, defending the village and occupying the village.
He hid the people of the village behind the Church and placed his army men in strategic points around town.
Watching him play with the village was really different than watching his sister but it was just as satisfying.
The Youngest came along and joined the Oldest in Christmas Village war games, only he brought trucks and tanks to move troops around. Luckily his transport vehicles didn't fit on the village itself so they were driven around on the table in front of the village.
The Oldest outgrew it and the Youngest continued on for a few more years and once he outgrew playing with it the village became just a part of our Christmas decorations.
This year I set the village up and there seems to be some problems.
The light in the Christmas tree in the middle blinks.
It's never blinked before but this year it blinks.
And two other lights no longer work at all.
So, the Island King, the Oldest and I were in the living room last night and the Island noticed the light blinking.
“That light has never blinked before, right?”
“That's right. The blinking is new.”
We all walked over to take a closer look and the Island King said “I think the villagers are trying to send out a distress signal.”
The Oldest cracked up and said “Yep, the war was hard on this place.”
The light in the church no longer works.
The light in the Bakery no longer works. (Not the bulbs, the sockets)
On closer inspection, I noticed that the sign on the front of the bakery is completely gone.
That's when the Oldest got a sheepish look on his face and told me that a mortar had taken it out. He then went on to say that the child who's arm was blown off was a sad casualty of war.
I asked what happened to the top of the Christmas tree and he said “Oh, that was epic!”
The Youngest had troops on the ground and the Oldest came in with a surprise air attack. The bomb – a lego – was being held onto the bottom of an airplane and the Oldest swears he meant to blow up the trucks on the table but he let go too soon and took out the top of the Christmas tree.
The broken windows in the Church are from spit balls being sling-shotted at the army men and the chip on the backside of one of the trees is from an attempt to drive an army truck into the village gone wrong.
I was really surprised at how much the village has deteriorated but I was ASTONISHED that the Oldest remembers exactly what happened to everything.
He said that every Christmas he and his brother would expect to get yelled at for breaking something but that I watched them play and never noticed the broken stuff.
No, I did not. When rambunctious children are focused and the hullabaloo of the Holidays is happening, you really don't think about things like that.
Personally, I was just glad they weren't catching the house on fire.
After Christmas I'm going to rehab my village and hopefully one day I'll have grandchildren that enjoy it as much as their parents did.
In the meantime – I'm positive the Island King is right – the blinking light has to be an SOS coming from the villagers.