The Christmas season is filled with many emotions,
and chief among them is the sense of magic. We want and need sweetness and charm and excitement and mystery.
We want -- we need -- to feel like kids again. Collecting antique cardboard houses made in pre-War Japan and
arranging them in a world of their own brings it all back for me. I know that I'm not alone in my yearning.
There really was a time, wasn't there, that we asked for nothing more than to while away a few hours lying flat
on our stomachs and setting up a tiny, quite magical village beneath the tree. Well, I'm older now. My eyes are
not as sharp, my bones not as limber as when I was ten, and a mantel-height village suits me just fine; the joy
and pleasure are as intense as ever.
May your own holidays be filled with joy and good will!
Most of my collection are vintage "coconuts," a quaintly descriptive word for the pastry-look, shredded-cellophane walls and roofs of these tiny, mica-dusted structures. The houses and churches are almost exclusively from the early 1930's, the Golden Age of the Christmas "putz". The tiny lead figures, also from the '30's, are German lead "flats." There's a lovely write-up with charming photographs in the December 2005 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine, but if you want to learn all there is to know of the wonderful world of Japanese cardboard Christmas houses, grab your laptop and find a comfortable chair (or lie on your belly again) and spend a truly magical time at papatedsplace.com
|As wrens do with their nests, you can tuck a putz just about anywhere. Take a handful of Christmas cardboard houses, throw in a set of German lead flats (Zinnfiguren is the fancy term), and you have -- well, I call this the "kids' table" of Christmas villages. Colorful, little, and lively! Just click on each house for a closeup.|