by megan hopps
SUN PRESS Newspapers
On a quiet Thursday afternoon at Champlin Shores sat Virginia Kreber at a long table in the center of a dimly lit room.
She picked up a piece of her puzzle, a bit of a snowman’s nose. She attempted to find its place in the big picture, twisting and turning the piece to find its fit. Surrounding her, on tables lined with glittering white cloth were the glowing houses of a Department 56 village.
Stockings were hung on the fireplace and each picture in the room was wrapped in red wrapping paper and ribbon. A lit Christmas tree sat in the corner with red and gold bows tied to its branches. Sparkling snowflakes hung from the ceiling tiles and the only sound that could be heard was the gentle “humm” of a train on its tracks and the soft call of a loon from one of the lit houses in the village.
There she sat, working on a puzzle that sparkled like the snow on the rooftops of that village. Virginia was a resident at Champlin Shores. She looked up from her work and began telling her friends how special the village was to everyone who stayed there. She told them how it brought back memories of her childhood.
“We enjoy just sitting here and drinking it all in,” she said.
It took them three days to set up the village. Kathy Timm, Champlin Shore’s Assistant Business Office Director, donated the houses to the senior home after her mother and sister-in-law past away.
“Every year we’d get a new piece of the village,” she said. “And after they past, the pieces of their village were added to mine.”
Every wire and a light bulb was carefully strung beneath the tables and tightly screwed in to place. Kathy’s husband Tim, their daughter Mandy and their friend Greg spent days making sure the display was just right for the residents to enjoy.
The family had created a backdrop of blue cloth, sprinkled with glitter. Behind the cloth were blinking strings of Christmas lights that had been pinned to the wall in a zig-zag pattern creating the look of twinkling stars.
“Tim returns almost every day replacing bulbs and checking wires,” Kathy said. “He’s really worked very hard to make sure this is something all of the residents can enjoy.”
Tim Timm made risers from foam pieces and carved the edges to look like the houses were sitting on snowy cliffs. There were trees and people and light poles and signs. Even the chefs that worked there got in on the fun. Champlin Shore’s chefs, Tracie and Michael, created a gingerbread corner to add to the display. Gingerbread houses decorated with colored frosting, M&M’s and peppermint candy sat next to cones covered in textured green frosting to resemble Christmas trees. Gingerbread people played in cotton candy snow, holding gum drops and setting gifts made from Starbursts and licorice under the candied trees. From the ceiling hung sugar candy snowflakes from fishing line as if falling from the heavens.
“We’ve already started buying more for next year,” added Kathy. “We are just in awe at how beautiful it turned out.”
Contact Megan Hopps at [email protected]