Loretta Gorlitz's Christmas village 2008.12.24

Written by David Green.


After 15 years, Loretta Gorlitz finally said, “Enough!”

That might have come as a surprise to friends who have given her miniature buildings over the years for her Christmas village display.loretta.gorlitz.jpg

But even Loretta knows when it’s time to stop. After all, she’s really run out of room.

“It’s getting too crowded,” she said, and pointed out the overflow area on the top of her entertainment center.

In 1993, Loretta started off with only three buildings that she placed under her Christmas tree. That was only the beginning.

She’s acquired more and more through the years and the village kept growing.

“People have given me most of them,” she said. “I can pretty much tell you who gave me what.”

She buys some of the small figurines for her display—skaters, sledders, people walking through town, etc.—but the buildings are rather costly. She recalls when they sold for less than $10. Now the price is closer to $20.

Bookstore, churches, beauty salon, hardware store, florist, grocery—a wide array of businesses are in her display—and among the dozens of buildings, only two are alike.

Loretta’s display not only grows every year, it also changes with each Christmas. A few years ago, she created a mountain scene in one corner. Now she has mountains everywhere, in the background.

“The wall was getting marred up,” she said, so the new paint job included scenery for the display.

The creation now takes over a full half of her long living room. That means the organ moves into the kitchen, the dining room table is taken apart, the chairs are placed in the entryway, and a sofa is doubled up next to another one along the same wall.

“It took me three weeks to put it together this year,” Loretta said.

She uses three 8 by 10 sheets of luan placed end to end, with supports underneath plus a milk crate in the center of each for added support when she has to lean over to place buildings.

Most of the buildings are lighted by one of three power cords, but 10 of the fixtures are battery powered.

She created a railroad scene, a farm scene, ice ponds and sledding hills. There are rows of houses and clusters of stores.

The buildings were manufactured by more than a dozen different companies. A few of them were kits and hand-painted by the buyer before passing it on to Loretta.

It’s surprising that neither of her two cats prowl the streets of the village like giants from a science fiction movie. The younger of the two used to enjoy sleeping on the cotton batting snow, but Loretta succeeded in convincing her that it wasn’t allowed. Now they both spend a lot of time sleeping underneath.

It’s a lot of work to assemble a new village every year, but all it takes is a visit from children to remind Loretta that it’s all worth the time.

“After church, some young children came to see it,” she said. “They got down on their hands and knees and looked in all the windows. They were so thrilled.”

She may be done collecting, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a new display a year from now.

She has a simple answer to a question about whether she’ll do it again next year.

“Of course!”

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