It’s no secret that I adore the holidays. I’m lucky because my miniatures allow me to extend the season a little longer—we start decking the halls in 1:12 scale in November and do not take down the seasonal splendor until mid-January. That’s almost three full months of holiday cheer for me!
My love for Christmastime goes back to my childhood, and many of the exhibits in the gallery depict my memories of this special season. One scene shows a bare tree with all of the trimmings just waiting to be put on it. It symbolizes the excitement we felt as children on the last day of school before Christmas vacation. Our family didn’t put up our live tree until the day we got out of school and I remember rushing home to decorate it. Another vivid memory is visiting the Kilgus Drug store during the holidays. It was a whirlwind of activity with people coming in for coffee or a sundae after an afternoon of shopping or simply stopping in to pick up a box of Christmas candy. It was a lively place with young people meeting for a Coca-Cola and Nabs or talking in the phone booth under Klondike, the moose. There were so many memories over the years that make this particular Christmas exhibit come alive for not only me, but for many others in Maysville.
The collection’s nativity scene never ceases to amaze me and always takes me back to thoughts of my grandfather who was a Methodist minister. We grew up with a balance of knowing the meaning of Christmas while also enjoying the anticipation that goes along with Santa Claus. The birth of Christ, portrayed by Teresa Layman, Kerri Pajutee, and Jamie Carrington, is truly one of the most emotionally stirring exhibits at the KSBMC.
While most of the permanent displays, like the Cox Building, are decorated seasonally, one in particular—a precious room box by Charles Tebelman—becomes transformed at Christmas. It’s a cabin atmosphere with warm wood walls and flooring and a large brick hearth as its centerpiece. For nearly three months out of the year, however, it becomes Santa’s home at the North Pole. The Old World Santa appears to be just coming in after a long day in his shop. The tree by Gudrun Kolenda (complete with those red and green craft paper garlands we made as children) and the snow outside are only a few of the details I love. A copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol poignantly waits for him on his favorite chair in front of the fire and I imagine him warming his feet while reading it.
Another of my favorite vignettes is Kay Shipp’s charming interpretation of an elf trying to motivate a lazy reindeer. I giggle every time I see it and envision Santa bellowing, “Keep pushing! Keep pushing!” All of the vignettes rouse the imagination. I believe their true beauty lies in their power to provoke viewers to create their own ideas of what may be emerging in a scene.
Of all the stories, real or imagined, inspired by our Christmas displays, there is one that is my most treasured. It involves a Christmas scene in my father’s doctor’s office. I did not know until right before my mother passed away that my dad would leave his office on Christmas Eve and go to buy toys to distribute to his patients who could not afford Christmas gifts for their children. To me, it brings the spirit of giving to the forefront during this time of year. Knowing that my father never let that be known has made that story one of the most tenderhearted reminiscences I have of him and I will forever cherish its knowledge. I just may have to keep the holiday displays and this blog up a little longer . . .