Jan 12, 2015

Christmas Discussions

John Wayne Christmas Tree - Dennis Carlson MPHS 67

  • Polar Fantasy 2009 - YouTube

    Dec 1, 2009 - Uploaded by jcfelice88keys

    Video clips of Dennis' North Pole themed Village set to the music of Mannheim Steamroller and Charlie Brown ...
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  • Christmas Discussions EMPEH Alums 65-67+-

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    What is, or are your favorite moment or times of the Christmas season?

    Mine are, on Christmas eve when everyone is gone and the hustle and bustle is over, with the Christmas tree lit and the quiet with no tv or noise. The other is, early in the morning when it is not quite light outside, the tree lights are on and so quiet and calm. What are your favorite times at Christmas?

    Charlie Van Liere

    Just watched your Polar Fantasy video.. how did you get it to snow? Love the music and sound effects of the airplane flying.. How about an Empehi Polar party at Dennis' house?

    Marie Stazzone

    This setup is just fantastic, Dennis! How many years did it take to do all that work? I liked the Christmas Bread Baker, too, among all those details!

    MC Hunt

    I been collecting since 1990; so about 25 years. When I first started, it all fit on top of a six foot long book case, with room to spare.

    Now, it's 102 square feet on 6 levels and I will have to start moving out furniture if I decide to expand and add another section; which, is a bone of contention with my wife........but, that's another story. It's been this large for the last 5 or 6 years or so; I've added two whole sections since about 2009, when that video was made. It's a lot of fun and a great hobby and I'm always looking for new pieces and innovations in which to display it. I've even taken courses in Styrofoam 101, on how to cut, shape and mold the substance without making a mess. (Yes, there are such classes, taught by Department 56 personnel) Plus, one of the big secrets is hiding all the wires, which can be a real difficulty. You want the thing to look as real and whimsical, as is possible.

    Thanks for asking,

    Dennis Carlson

    Dennis, I found this video fascinating. My own Christmas Village is in two small locations, residential and commercial. The commercial part has only five buildings, but two of them are bookstore. Gotta keep your priorities straight.

    Where do you store all this stuff? And is there any chance of seeing a picture of the John Wayne Tree? Pretty please?



    Taffy, I have many, many, many rubber-maid containers which store the buildings, figures and accessories, as well as the three Christmas trees and all the ornaments and other stuff. I used to store everything in my concrete-floored crawlspace on sheets of plywood with casters. But, in recent years, age and lack of agility have forced me to switch to the easier accessibility of my garage; it's much more user-friendly and less wear and tear on my legs and back.

    I will try to get a photo of the John Wayne tree, which has grown in the last two years from a 3 footer to a 4 & 1/2 footer. 

    It's pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

    As Duke used to say, Yeh-Teh-Hey.

    Dennis Carlson

    Let me preface this by saying that I worked gift retail from 1995-2010 (and just went back this past Nov), so I have a little different spin on things. Our fall & Christmas would start arriving in early April ( we had ordered it in Jan at the Atlanta Gift Show) So we would all "ooh" and "aah" over all the new stuff just a few short months after Christmas. Our fall merchandise went on the floor in early July to coincide with our town's Art in the Park. We were in full Christmas swing by our Holiday Open House in late October. You would think that I would be tired of Christmas by Thanksgiving....not so! I love to decorate & therefore, I generally put the "first" tree up in our foyer mid-Nov. It's a slim twig tree decorated with white lights, crystal & glitter ornaments & deemed my " winter tree", so it will be up until the end of Jan. Our family room tree has all Waterford ornaments & is just too pretty to take down right after Christmas, so it's good for probably another 7-10 days. 

    The outside is more the traditional New England look ( we lived in NH from '85-'92) Wreaths with a red bow outside the windows with a single candle on the inside. We have some electric luminaries & a single lit deer in our front island, so not a huge amount of "unwrapping" to do there. Our ground had not frozen yet ( yeah, just wait 'til THIS week is over!) so the wreaths & electric stuff came down this past week. Everyone in Chicago, stay warm this week. Looks like winter is finally coming to MI this week, as well. Just in time for our Plymouth Ice Festival next weekend!

    Sun Jan 4, 2015 7:25 am (PST) . Posted by:
    "Judi Ballard"

    Tree is still up another week and some tabletop stuff so we are still kind of Christmas still. I am a bog fan of the holiday.

    On Jan 4, 2015, at 12:36 AM, Tom Thom

    I, too, worked for a few years in retail. Whole different spin sometimes but the Holidays are still my favorite time of the year.

    Tom Schildhouse

    Well, this year's FAVORITE time came when my 2 1/2 yr. old granddaughter, whose name is Giuliana but she cannot quite pronounce that one and calls herself Gigi, took the little Beanie Baby dog I had found for her (dog's name is Gigi, too) and cradled it in her neck while her Mommy was tucking her in under her new Hello Kitty blanket. And guess who got her that blanket, too???? It simply made my Christmas complete - the frosting on the cake, shall we say. If I could get away with attaching a picture to the site, I'd do it. She's just too cute!

    Joan Pettavino" hokeydork  66

    Mine is also Christmas Eve. After dinner I like to sit and have a mulled port, the dishes cleared and the few remaining guests sitting and watching "A Child's Christmas in Wales" with Denholm Elliot. My favorite Christmas movie. The fireplace ablaze, the tree lights aglow and everything in a quiet lull, almost suspended in time. I love those quiet moments after the hustle and bustle of a great season and a sumptuous dinner

    Tom Schildhouse

    Great story, still want to travel with you sometime. On a boat, on a cruise or when you finally realize your mission in life is to be a tour director. But I will probably not do the rodeo with you.

    Ron Veenstra


    Dennis, let me reinforce the "never grow up" theme. Many years ago we were visiting relatives on Easter eve. My niece commented that they needed to leave soon so as not to miss the Easter bunny. Karen, for some reason, commented that Uncle Tom wasn't getting a visit from the big bunny. When asked why she replied that I had been bad. This did not sit well with favorite niece. She REALLY was not happy. With all of the indignity a 6 or 7 y/o can muster (considerable, btw), she informed Aunt Karen that she was going to tell the Easter bunny the truth. So then Aunt Karen tried to mitigate damage by telling the niece that the Easter bunny did not visit adults. That was met by another indignant response: "Uncle Tom is NOT an adult, he's just a big kid".

    I finally convinced Aunt Karen that she was not going to win this one, just walk away and take the loss.

    I am known by most people as the one who has never grown up. And I NEVER, ever will.

    Tom Schildhouse


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