A Christmas Village like none other
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Especially for Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, who depicts her epic love for the holiday season by mounting her Christmas Village, which occupies an entire wall and more of her living room.
It reminds her of happy times growing up in the rural district of Reading, St James, and how it and traditions have evolved over the years. Created with meticulous detail and made with miniature figures and trinkets, Eldemire-Shearer’s Christmas Village is a sight to behold.
She shared that her most memorable Christmas took place when she was about five years old, with a huge Christmas tree that she and her family decorated.
“We actually had a manger as a child, and for the manger, I used to go outside and I would dig up grass so we would have real grass around the manger. And then [over the years], I got all these extra animals and things to put in it,” Eldemire-Shearer said.
As for the Christmas Village, the eldery-rights advocate told The Gleaner that she has been mounting the display for the past 27 years and that it started with only five houses but has grown exponentially over decades.
“When the village first came out, you got a box containing five houses and you can see the older houses by the size. They are smaller and not as detailed as the newer houses,” she said, pointing to one of the smaller structures in the display.
“Each Christmas, I got a little carried away, and I would go up and I would buy. But then a thing called online shopping interfered with my life, and I would order them, and then the growth began.”
The Christmas Village display now boasts all of 64 structures, not including smaller houses, and figures that pull the look together. The display, starting from the left, shows a waterfront, with Eldemire-Shearer’s man-made stream in the background adding to the effect. The waterfront area includes a lighthouse, a fireboat, and even a quaint bed and breakfast by the sea. There are other smaller boats and seaside apparel included.
This segues into what Eldemire-Shearer calls the residential area, with a variety of houses, some of which are populated by families around a tree. There is also a Christmas tree lot, a garden where flowers can be bought, and an outdoor mobile theatre playing The Nutcracker. One part that is close to Eldemire-Shearer’s heart is the animal shelter, with a veterinarian and animals inside.
As you pan right, the busy city centre is next, with all the emergency stations and a hospital.
“It can’t be a city centre without a hospital,” the collector quipped.
There is also a doctor’s office and a pharmacy, with only a patty shop missing to depict the Jamaican tradition of buying the meaty pastry on the way home.
To the far right is farmland with animals, barns, and a winery. Then there is a train to transport the residents of the Christmas Village across the different areas.
“It reflects a lot of me, and it is just so much fun to do,” said Eldemire-Shearer, gushing with childlike glee. “It takes me two weeks to put up the whole thing and only two days to take it down.”
For the professor, Christmas is about family and charity.
“For me, Christmas is not commercial, it’s not about gifts. It’s about being together and celebrating, and it may have stemmed from coming up in the country because there weren’t a lot of us to exchange gifts ther than being in the house and being together,” she said, smiling.
To top off the village display, Christmas lights present a starry sky against the backdrop of dusk’s darkness.
At the end of the holiday, each piece is carefully wrapped separately to be packed away into storage bins until the next Christmas beckons.