Antoinette Stockenberg's 2008 Christmas Displays

Christmas in Newport
The 2008 main mantel.
   For closeups, click on each of the fifteen houses.

Antique Christmas cardboard house putz (village) on fireplace mantel at night (50K)

For a widescreen version of this mantel village, click here.

Animated Girl(8K) We've lived in Newport for a quarter of a century and have wandered, completely beguiled, through every one of its colonial, Victorian, mansion and cottage-lined streets. This year, I'm dedicating both mantels to Newport, Rhode Island, the architectural treasure trove that they call the City by the Sea. The main mantel begins in the mansion district and ends in our own crowded, cottage-filled neighborhood. The small mantel takes up where the big mantel leaves off, and it ends, appropriately, by the sea.

The people from previous mantel putzes return, with new chapters added to their stories. Sonja, the pretty and talented skater, has left her country town for Newport, hoping to become noticed by someone with means. Johnny Hooks, still madly in love with her, has had to stay behind; how can he possibly abandon his dad on the farm? Big Billy has followed Sonja! -- though not by design. He's visiting family in Newport for the holidays, and, if the truth be told, he's more interested in the presents that Santa's handing out at City Hall than in the object of his old schoolboy's crush.

The kids from the Fifth Ward -- and there are very big families in the Fifth Ward -- have come downtown to see Santa, too. They were first in line, and now, their pockets stuffed with candy, they have turned their attention to snowmen and snowballs, roughly in that order. So far, no casualties, but the night isn't over yet.

Miss Bates has got married! She's Mrs. Jack Jones now, and she's hurrying from the train to make supper for her husband. Her little brown dog Rusty is as glad to see her as Jack will surely be. As for Harmony Anderson, she's coming to terms with the fact that her captain husband has been lost at sea. Despite having been forced to give up her comfortable house for a modest flat, she's less sad than before. Time heals many wounds, even if it does so in fits and starts. Still, when Harmony runs into Mrs. Pettifore and her doted-on daughter, she can't help wondering what might have been ....

And then there are the guests at the mansion fete. Financiers and railroad tycoons and makers of little liver pills: if money is somewhere to be had, they are having it. Gowns, jewels, carriages, cars, and servants; mansions that are absurdly cavernous and closed up for most of the year -- all can be found in the district that edges the sea. Crushing, unseemly wealth. In the century to follow, it will slide away and then return, then slide away again, like the ebb and flow of the sea.

The 2008 small mantel.    For closeups, click on each of the eight houses.

Antique Christmas cardboard house putz (village) on fireplace mantel at night (50K)

For a widescreen version of this mantel village, click here.

Animated Lighthouse(6K) At the quiet end of town, the Christmas season goes on much as any other. The play is less merry, the work a bit harder. Lucas will tend his sheep, just as he always has, and Boots will keep them in line. Meanwhile, the deer on the ground will keep an eye on the dog. (The deer in the air, though, have no such concerns.) The skaters are fewer -- who has the time? -- and so, too, the skiers. But boys will be boys, and the ones who aren't at choir practice at St. John of the Field have stolen the time to have a romp in the snow. Those scamps Jimmy and Jeffrey are using their acrobatic skills to get the hat on their snowman just exactly ... right. They have the time.

The sweet, angelic notes of the choirboys drift across the stillness of the graveyard at the side of the church. Will Jenkins stands over one particular grave. A new grave. The woman he loved, the woman he lost, has died. He heard the news too late even to attend her funeral. Influenza -- so quickly! Her new husband was said to be shocked, but not so shocked as Will. His mind is blank, his heart shattered. He sees nothing through the glaze of his tears. He has loved Laura his whole life. It was never enough that she loved him as a brother. And now he doesn't even have that. After a long while, he turns and makes his way past the church. The boys are singing a hymn that he knows, that everybody knows: O, come, all ye faithful ....

He stops to listen a moment, and then on an impulse he threads through the choir and takes a seat inside the church. It's warm there, and his soul has felt so cold.

Marking the entrance to the harbor is a lighthouse, and tending that lighthouse is a new keeper: Old Man MacGowan. He's given up his part-time Christmas tree business and has gone to work for hire. The pay's decent, and a house is provided. "Ye can't ask for better'n that," he tells his infrequent visitors. And anyway, he likes to sit and stare for long periods of time while he smokes his pipe, and that was hard to do, what with kids and their folks standing up every tree in the lot and stomping them to see if the needles fell. Well, of course they was gonna fall; that's what needles do. And the hagglin'. Good grief, a man couldn't make no money when all was said 'n done. All in all, he likes being lightkeeper, even in the cold. He has plenty of wood stacked out front, and food in the larder. And there's just something about starin' at that sea ....

For earlier chapters of this Christmas tale, click on the links to previous mantels:

2016 Christmas Putz

Merry Christmas(6K)

2015 Christmas Putz

2014 Christmas Putz

2013 Christmas Putz

2012 Christmas Putz

2011 Christmas Putz

2010 Christmas Putz

2009 Christmas Putz

2007 Christmas Putz

2006 Christmas Putz

2005 Christmas Putz

2004 Christmas Putz

Antoinette's Main Christmas Page

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