It began innocently. A few miniature houses would adorn my fireplace mantel at Christmas time, and then get packed up and put away until the next year. But then along came Michael’s, with their line of Lemax “Christmas Village” pieces.

I remember it vividly. I stood there like a six-year-old, eyes wide and mouth agape as I watched the magical display. There must’ve been a dozen different little houses and businesses, all lit up, with some playing music. A miniature train blew its whistle and chugged its way around the entire display. I was enchanted — and broke by the time I left, despite my coupons.

I couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving to come and go so I could start setting up my town. That’s when I realized my fireplace mantel wasn’t close to large enough. I had to think bigger! I looked up, above my kitchen cabinets, where I discovered a vast, barren landscape awaiting my Christmas Village. Until then, the only thing up there was a dusty, fake plant. I could part with that.

I dragged a ladder into the kitchen and began assembling the town. It wasn’t easy. Maury had to drill holes in the cabinet shelves so I could feed an electrical cord up to the top. I needed extension cords and duct tape to keep all the wiring out of view. Hours later, I climbed down the ladder and inspected my work. I was thrilled, but ... something ... something was missing ... Ah yes, more houses! I had room for so many more!

I returned to Michael’s and purchased a firehouse, a candy shop, an alpine ski lodge and, of course, a pub. I also bought trees, tiny people, a bridge and some little lamp posts. It was like playing with an adult-sized dollhouse. I also added white lights behind my town which illuminated the whole thing. I can’t tell you how proud of it I was. My friends loved it, and we all joke about how we wish we could shrink down and live up there in my Christmas village (usually after a glass or two of wine).

Every Friday, my friends and I grab coffee at our local Starbucks, and that time together means a lot to me. I desperately wanted to find a miniature Starbucks for my town, but couldn’t find one anywhere. For my birthday this year, my friends surprised me with a miniature Starbucks! They found it on eBay!

I have the best friends in the world.

When Christmas was over, I couldn’t bring myself to pull everything down. It gave me so much joy. So, I decided to leave the town up there. Now, in the spring, I switch out the Christmas trees for cherry blossom trees, and then fall trees in the fall. Yes, Lemax thinks of everything, and more.

This summer, they came out with a whole Fourth of July-themed town, which, of course, I bought. Maury had to drill some more holes in the cabinet shelves. More cords and lights went up, illuminating the gazebo (with a band seated inside that plays music), a summer cottage and an ice cream truck. I told myself that would be the end of my Lemax love affair. After all, I was running out of space and money.

But then came “Spooky Town.”

Do I even need to tell you what those people over at Lemax came out with for Halloween? The “Haunted Clock Tower,” the “Tilt-a-Hurl” ride with spinning pumpkins, a drinking establishment for witches called the “Brew House” — and so much more! My oldest daughter called and asked if I’d been to Michael’s lately. Ironically, I was at Michael’s when she called. She, too, had been bitten by the Spooky Town bug, and was already setting up her town.

I was clearing a space on my dining room buffet for my new “Spooky Town” when my 20-year-old son came into the room and started opening the boxes. That’s right, my “Call of Duty” video-game-playing, obscene-rap-song-blasting son actually volunteered to set the whole thing up. He was hooked! And, he did a great job! He googled “Spooky Town” limited edition pieces, and suggested I run to Michael’s to get them before they sold out. And I did!

If by now you’re concluding that my entire family has gone crazy, you may be right. But a funny thing is happening among my group of friends. Call me a miniature-town pusher, but I gave my friend Nancy a “Pumpkins for Sale” Spooky Town trailer. I had an extra one and asked if she wanted it. It was her first Spooky Town piece. The next thing I knew, she was at Michael’s picking up the “Haunted Clock Tower.” It’s contagious, I tell you!

I can only imagine what my home will look like in a few years. Maybe I can charge admission and give tours.

I’m pretty sure Maury has had just about enough of this miniature town stuff, but I need his help and his drill just one more time. You see, I have one small cabinet left in the kitchen with nothing on top of it, and it’s the perfect spot for the newest addition to my Christmas village: “Ludwig’s Nutcracker Factory.”

And the madness continues...

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