When I was a little girl, I grew up with my grandparents. At Christmas, my grandmother had an entire town, farmland, and suburban area to set up under the tree. One side would be a huge farm with cows, horses, pigs, sheep, chickens, roosters, and all kinds of farm equipment. To the front would be a town. She had street lights, houses, businesses, and cars. There were skaters on a pond and carolers. To the other side were homes set up like a suburban grid like we lived in.
I loved that thing and helping to put it together under the tree. Later, I was awarded the role solely. It was so exciting to not only put up the Christmas tree but to put out the village beneath it.
When my grandmother died, who knows who ended up with all of those treasured items. I know it wasn’t me. I missed the town at the holidays and as an adult, I wanted to have a village like that for under my own Christmas tree.
As it were, I was not a rich person, and as many of you may know, Christmas houses and buildings were and are quite spendy. Therefore, I never had a village under my tree. Oh, I had a few houses here and there, but nothing to come near the splendor of my grandmother’s village.
A few years ago, I was caught up in the buying on Ebay. Since I am a thimble collector, I decided to one day type in “thimbles” in the search. Lo and behold, I found thimbles of every sort, size, color, and design. I was in thimble heaven. I bought many beautiful thimbles through Ebay, but the most exciting and important find was to come. Thimble houses.
I discovered house-shaped thimbles from Birchcroft
China in . I had found a way to have my Christmas village! As a thimble collector, this was the ultimate for me. Although very reasonably priced, my funds were not big enough to buy everything, so I selected certain ones. Back then, Birchcroft sold sets of them and I could buy 3 sets of house-shaped thimbles for the price of one regular Christmas house. England
As it was, I set up everything on a stand that we have. It worked out perfectly, although a bit low. We like to put our gifts under our tree, so a village under there would not work out so well. I put a light-up plastic tree in the center of it all so I could have the feel. It looked great, and I was happy with my
. I had found a Christmas train to go along with a small train. Neither of these are electric, but they are cute and fit in nicely. I made railroad track out of popsicle sticks to go around the center lake and tree and throughout the scenery. There is even a “bad side of town” with run-down buildings that I would later put on “the other side of the tracks.” Thimble City
It came to my attention by a fireman that although I had a Post Office, a police station, school, city hall, museum, a hospital and all the normal things for a city, I did not have a fire department. I then had to look at what I had and choose a building that resembled a fire station and ordered it from Birchcroft. When it came, I found a picture on the internet of a fire station, shrunk it down to the right size with Photoshop, and put it on the thimble. Wha-la!
All was right in Thimble City. At least for the time being...
The next year, at little at a time, I bought the remaining thimbles from Birchcroft. By that time, many of the original thimbles that had been there were gone. In one final desperate buying spree, I bought all the ones I didn’t have yet--all at once. Although it seemed like a lot, and the amount of “buildings” I received was enormous, it was still not extremely expensive. By the next Christmas,
experienced a population boom. I not only had a city, but a countryside complete with farms and waterwheels. I had an amusement park and a Santa/Christmas area. With all the new additions, it occurred to me that this was no longer just a city, but it had grown into an entire county. Thimble City
And then there was
. Thimble County
Then there was more discoveries. I found tiny pewter animals, trucks, boats. I added a helicopter to the hospital and pewter cars for the streets. The biggest discovery was the thimbles that actually looked like little houses. Some were very expensive, some not so much. I bought what I thought was reasonable so I could give
a more dimensional look. They seemed to give it a more “realistic” appearance. Thimble County
At this time, I found that Birchcroft also had blanks--house-shaped blanks. Then I had an idea. If I could make a fire station with a picture, I could make my own thimbles for
! Oh boy, could I. I found printable pictures on the internet and made all kinds of my own thimbles. Cabins, and houses galore. Thimble County
I made one that I prize dearly since it has a front that is 3-dimensional. For me, it was difficult to make, but worth it.
Since I’m from the Midwest (
Then, while reminiscing of my youth, I remembered the Mail Pouch barns that were everywhere. I had to make a red one, but then I continued with a black one as well. Not many people remember the Mail Pouch barns. The company actually went around painting farmers’ barns to advertise the chewing tobacco. And, like I said, they were scattered throughout the countryside. To me, I added a piece of my own history by including the Mail Pouch barns to my collection.
But, I didn’t stop there. I took photos of our house and garage and not only made them into thimbles, but I made our yard and driveway (with accessories) for the thimbles to sit in. I even made our fence around it all.
grew exponentially. I bought Z-scale people to make it come to life. Thimble County
I then had to graduate it to the entire kitchen table. Luckily, we eat Christmas dinner at his mother’s...
Thimble County sure did grow!
Well, this past year, I had considered putting
on our bar since we bought a new table that was smaller, but I ended up using the original console table and put a folding table on one end for added length. I also had a few new items to add. I bought a rock wall centerpiece at a yard sale and bought an additional mountain for the far side. Other little things cropped up for me to buy to add in. A few new houses. Additional items for the amusement park. More trees. Another light (billboard for amusement park) Thimble County
I bought a new tree with blue lights for the center, but it was simply too big. Nothing compares to the original tree, so although I first put in the new tree, it was later removed.
Then the craziest thing of all happened. Every year, my daughter and I exchange tree ornaments for Christmas. These are usually hand-made or unusual in some way. So, I mentioned to her that I wanted to make ornaments of each of the planets in the solar system. She jumped on it. She said she would make them and that it would be EPIC!
She wasn’t kidding. She made the entire solar system out of Styrofoam balls. It was awesome! However, when I got the gift(s), my tree was already up, and I wanted to display her gift. I looked around. Above
on the original console stand is a light-up picture that has air vents around the frame. I hung a set of blue lights (for stars) from the bottom of the light, and hung the planets from that--over top of Thimble County . Thimble County
Everyone loved it! Therefore, my daughter’s solar system became a permanent part of
. Thimble County
At this point, my husband said that it was no longer small enough to be a county. I thought he would say it was a state or a country. But no. He insisted that it is Thimble World.
So, Thimble World came to be.
Now I realized that the good citizens of Thimble World could not view the planets without a telescope. I went to work and made an observatory for them.
But, I couldn’t stop there. Among my many interests, I’m into the paranormal. My husband has some Bigfoot items and where we live (
) has a law forbidding the killing of a Sasquatch. This gave me another idea. I needed a Bigfoot in Thimble World. Skamania County, Washington
After searching for a month, I could not find a Bigfoot thimble anywhere. So, I resorted to making my own, which I must say, turned out just fine. The thimble is coated in sand and dirt and rock so it looks like a mountain.
But, Bigfoot only gave me more ideas. Universal ideas. Unidentified ideas. After another fruitless search, I resorted to making my own UFO thimbles.
I don’t know how much more I will add, but I haven’t stopped. I’ve bought some thimbles with animals.
I plan to add another of my own “haunted house” as well. I have one that I bought, which is very nice.
I made one already, but it is disappointing since the printout shrunk so poorly.
But, hand making the thimbles is rewarding. Frustrating at times, but wonderful in the end.
Grandma’s village never looked like this!