Couple transforms home into Christmas wonderland

NW dd52 mini christmas FEATURE PHOTO couple posing with village

A HOME TRANSFORMED — Scott and Linda Brown pose behind a scene from the Christmas villages and decorations that adorn their Naples home this time of year. (De Busk Photos)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — It seems like the North Pole when you finally get there.

But, it isn’t quite that far a journey.

It’s a Christmas tradition brought to life, passed down from generation to generation, and shared by a couple from Naples, Maine.

Come, sit in their living room, which has been transformed into a series of miniature Christmas scenes – villages, cities, a school with a children’s playground in the yard, and Santa in his sleigh with musical reindeer ascending into the sky.

Every room in the home illuminates with the joy of the season.

For Scott and Linda Brown, decorating for Christmas time is a delightful activity that they share as a couple.

“We started collecting when we first got married,” Linda said.

While they might feel as busy as Santa’s elves, taking on this seasonal task is something they have not tired of.

“It hasn’t gotten old,” Scott said.

“It’s fun. It is nice sitting here at night with the lights going,” he said.

The lights are pleasant to watch. But, clashing Christmas carols could become a bit irritating, he said.

“The carousels both have music. We keep them down as low as they go because one is playing one song and the other is playing another song,” Scott said.

NW dd52 mini christmas FEATURE ART home in the hands

PASSED FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION — Naples resident Linda Brown holds in her hand a miniature Christmas home that was in her home when she was a little girl.

While it may seem like child’s play, setting up these extensive Christmas scenes involves a lot of work and time.

“It takes three weeks,” to get all the decorations set up and only two days to take them down and box them up in mid-January, Linda said.

After 38 years of doing this, the Browns have a down-pat routine.

“We start setting up before Halloween,” Linda said.

In their garage, there are 15 plastic tubs filled with Christmas knick knacks. There are 60 houses that light up, and each one has its own box.

Every day, Scott retrieves another plastic tub. Every evening, after she completes her shift as a cashier at Tony’s Foodland, she pulls out the contents of another tub, and starts arranging the pieces.

Scott, too, contributes to setting up the miniature towns after putting in his work-day. He is employed at Sabre Yachts in Raymond.

The complete transformation is finished by Thanksgiving. That is when Linda switches out the Thanksgiving Day decorations for the Christmas season place settings.

Each year, the Browns set up the tiny scenes differently than the Christmas before.

“The village set-up changes from year to year,” she said.

Scott adds to her statement.

“One year, it was in another corner. We try to alternate spaces to set it up differently,” he said.

Linda pointed out the various scenes.

“The school yard is at the bottom. There is the country on one side; the city is on the other wall. And over here are the winter fun scenes like the ski gondola and the snowy things,” she said.

NW dd52 Mini christmas FEATURE PHOTO merry go round

A TRADITION THAT CONTINUES TO GO AROUND — Scott and Linda Brown won this carousel at a Chinese auction. It is among the memorable pieces that make up the miniature Christmas scenes decorating their home.

Scott sat on the floor and started the train that travels around the fairground in the middle. There is a mirrored moving merry-go-round that they won at a Chinese auction.

“The set of flying reindeer is about 60 years old. It belonged to my aunt and uncle,” Linda said.

“My aunt and uncle had a big Christmas village. We used to go there when our boys were little. So, maybe, that is where the idea came from,” she said.

“We started out with a few items when the boys were little. We just put them around the tree on the floor. We started out with about a dozen,” Linda said.

“Then, the kids would buy us new ones,” she said.

“So would our friends,” she said.

“We really expanded after the boys left home,” she said.

“We just started added pieces,” Linda said.

She said many purchases were made in the 1970s and ‘80s at department stores like Ames and Bradley’s.

“We quit putting up a big tree. We chose to keep three fiber optic trees – the ones we like the best,” she said.

The couple rearranges the furniture to make room. An end table from their bedroom has become incorporated into the land for a village.

Meanwhile, a table in the backroom is reserved for the tiny houses that Linda saw and admired as a young girl growing up.

“My parents did a small miniature village,” she said.

Most people could tell stories about their most nostalgic items. The Browns can recall where they purchased each Christmas decoration, and which ones were gifts.

Over the years, they have purchased backdrops — like miniature versions of the backgrounds that are used during theater productions — in North Woodstock, N.H., North Conway and in Tennessee, where they vacationed last year. Four clear plastic trees slowly change colors; those were purchases from Rite Aid in Naples.

Linda’s girlfriend handcrafted two wooden Christmas trees, which are painted ‘evergreen’ with white snow.

Also, Linda has collected about a half-dozen animated toys like a singing angel, a dancing Santa, and a skiing snowman.

Scott said the plan for 2013 was to refrain from buying anything new. However, three illuminated houses managed to make it into their home.

“Our sons have villages in their homes, and they collect the houses. But, nothing like this,” Linda said.

Now, the Browns’ sons are raising families of their own in Indiana.

Possibly, not having two boys in the house has allowed them to expand the space and number of Christmas decorations.

The couple does have a cat. Surprisingly, that feline does not un-do all their work, nor does she play with any of the mouse-sized, moving decorations.

There is an exception: The magnetic people that stand around the merry-go-round seem to attract the cat. So, Linda placed them back in a box on the shelf.

With that attraction gone, the cat just watches the lights and takes a leisurely stroll around the outside of the train tracks, without knocking down anything.

What a good cat.

One would think that they are paying a massive bill to the local electric company, Central Maine Power (CMP).

In fact, they only plug in the cords and sit back to enjoy their labor of love a few hours in the evening.

“It is nice to just sit here with it lit up,” Scott said.

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