When I was little (here we go again) there were two appropriate gifts for teachers: stationery, and handkerchieves. Of course I am talking about a ladies handkerchief: floral, feminine, that folded into a square. The kind of implement one's mother reached for, licked absentmindedly, and used to wipe some smudge off of your face.
By the time I was a teacher, there were more possibilities: bubble bath, lotion, candles, chocolate, teacher-themed items, even gift cards. But at Christmas it was likely that I would receive something holiday-themed that my student had picked out. This is how The Christmas Village began.
Preschool children have their own unique methods of gift-choosing. I received ornaments and decorations in varied styles, sizes, and weights. In those days we often had a small, table-top tree. A lot of these items were too large or heavy to use. So Alice and I used our imaginations and turned them into a Christmas village.
Through the years, as new idiosyncratic pieces arrived, we would add them to the collection. A few things have broken, or disappeared in packing and moving, but other amazing things have taken their place. Alice is grown, and now Margo helps me unwrap each piece and she chooses the arrangement of each year's Village. What you see above is this year's incarnation. Here is last year's:
A close-up reveals that residents are gathered for a Village Board Meeting.
I kid you not. As I recall, residents were concerned about the height of the Christmas tree blocking their view of something. I think we we seeing Santa getting an earful from disgruntled neighbors.
From student to teacher, from child to parent, from ornament to village, the years have unfolded with many gifts. The gift of play continues to be the greatest of them all.