Thanks to compulsive buying cheered on by my daughter when she was a tot, my holiday Snow Village collection — miniature, lighted houses and shops recalling a simpler time in American life — is now larger than some actual towns. There's a rural area, a residential neighborhood and a downtown with shops — a drugstore, a cafe, a school, a doctor's office, even a little landscaped park with a statue of, who else, Mark Twain.
I vowed to halt Snow Village expansion, but then, some years ago, Snow Village Hospital was issued, true to its 1950's era. It's white with two big pillars and a big arrow points to the emergency department, which doesn't seem to exist. I nestled it into the snow by the glowing residential neighborhood.
But ever since the hospital joined the village, strange things happen. Just the other night at bedtime, I turned out the village lights and walked away. When I reached the stairs, trailed by Mr. Kitty Cat, I heard a distinct thud and all the village lights clicked back on. As I walked toward the village, I heard voices. Peering around the corner, to my amazement, little people sat talking in the Cozy Corner Cafe.
There was Dr. Weinstock, the village physician; Mr. Santamour, editor of the annual holiday newspaper; Mr. Bush, the assistant editor; and Ms. Jeffries, a village trustee. Mr. Lazar, the cafe owner, was pouring coffee and reviewing the latest buzz.
"Ms. Hoppszallern's toy store is closing and Mayor Weitzel says the village light schedule will be shortened. And I'm not selling many Christmas cookies."
Mr. Santamour, sporting a new holiday beard and his usual green eye shade, said, "It's not just us. I got a pretend email from Carriage House Town saying they were to be sold at a garage sale! Maybe even split up!" A collective very, very deep sigh filled the cafe. "It sounds like bad government to me," said Ms. Jeffries. "But it's not my fault. It's that Big Spender Weitzel."
Young Mr. Bush interrupted, "We need to publish this on the front page!"
"Hold on," cautioned Mr. Santamour, yanking up his eye shade for the umpteenth time. "It's the 'holiday' edition. Must be jolly, ya know. Nothing jolly about ending up on a card table in the driveway."
"Well, I think everyone should know what could happen," asserted Mr. Bush. "Let's occupy Main Street! We're the 0.0000000000099 percent," he chanted.
"I'd like to protest, too," chimed in Dr. Weinstock. "I haven't gotten a pay raise in I don't know how long."
"Doc, no one here grows old or gets sick. You never treat anybody." said Mr. Lazar. He added, "On the big TV in the kitchen all those yelling people blame health care costs. All their slogans make the solutions sound simple."
"Well, even here in Snow Village we know that nothing is simple," added Mr. Santamour. "Look at all we have to put up with. Like that darn Cat!"
"Perhaps it's time to shut off the lights and say goodnight," said Mr. Lazar. And happy holidays.