There is a world in miniature in the basement of Pauline Moores’ Red Bay home, a world where it’s always Christmas. Tiny figures go about their business between ceramic buildings, while ships sail on tissue-paper waters.
It started with a single piece in 1994.
“My son gave me a church, a ceramic church," says Moores.
“I’d say I got over a hundred pieces now. I don’t buy it. That’s a requirement for Christmas.”
Each of the pieces is a gift, given to Moores by a family member or friend. A post office was gifted by her mother, a postmistress for 35 years. A house was given by her son, before he moved to Banff in 2002. On the actual piece or the box in which it is stored, she writes the name of the giver and the year it was received.
The entire Christmas village is built of memories.
“It’s not just a house, taking it out of the box and putting it on the stand. Each piece, I know the year when I put it out,” says Moores. “They’re memories. Each piece just touched the heart, and almost every piece I can tell a story about it.”
When Moores first built the village it was as a tribute to her childhood Christmases in L’Anse Amour.
She called it, “Little LA”, a moniker for which she’s trying to come up with a replacement since the village now covers the 16-by-10 foot, two-tiered stand she built.
“We grew up with six kids and Mom and Dad. Christmas was big for us. We weren’t into big gifts,” says Moores. “There was no Christmas like Christmas in L’Anse Amour. Was only four families there, but, boy, didn’t we have fun.”
The current version of the village takes Moores about a week to set up, starting on Dec. 1. When Christmas is over, Moores repacks each piece into its own box where it rests safely until the return of the holiday season. It’s a routine she’s varied only when forced, as in 2010 when she underwent a major surgery.
“I knew I was having (surgery), so I put it up early. I wasn’t allowed to go down the steps. And my husband decided he was going to take it down,” remembers Moores. “I was upstairs and every now and then, I was hearing clink, bang. Not a good feeling. So that was his first and last time touching it.”
This year Moores has a helper she trusts to carry on the tradition.
“This year for the first time my granddaughter started to help me, which made it that much more special,” says Moores. “It means the world to me.”