Christmas, children, is not a date.
It is a state of mind.
(Mary Ellen Chase 1887 – 1973)
Dianne Gilham confesses that she’s stuck in a bygone era. As she tells, she is trying to be modern and ‘bend’ to take in a few new things, but she’s not ‘bending’ too much! Dianne and husband Dennis live in Nerrina (Vic) and it is here that their country world becomes all the more olde worlde come the festive season. In fact, the set up annually starts way before December. As Dianne states, October is the month when the spring cleaning is done and Dennis is enlisted to get out all those boxes … all 45 of them!
“It takes some weeks to get it all together. Like many others I know, I do start out wondering if it is all worth the trouble and ponder if anyone else really understands why I go to all this trouble to make sure everything is just right … I like to add at least one major new piece to my collection each year, but more often than not there are a few more, the whole accumulation of decorations and accessories having been amassed over 19 years. The main tree in the lounge room can take me two days alone to decorate as I take great pains to place all the trimmings in such a way that they create an overall balance. Last year a friend commented on how she had subsequently been inspired to think afresh about how she put up her own Christmas decorations after being here. This, I would say, is one of the main reasons for me doing what I do … in the hope that others will take the time themselves to think about Christmas and what it really means as they’re setting up their own displays” states Dianne.
Dianne’s pride and joy is her Caddington Village display by Lemax. It is here that her passion for a time long ago is best observed as a traditional Victorian Christmas is brought back to life in miniature. There are carriages pulled by horses, a steam train, street sellers and vintage stores decked to the nines. There are shoppers rushing home with their treasures and a carousel, carollers and twinkling lights … all part of the merry hustle and bustle of the snow-laden streetscape.
All parts of the Gilham’s home are decked out, including the laundry where there’s a ‘frosty’ display complete with lighted icicles; the bathroom which continues the Victorian theme with twinkling garland and golden bows; the dining area where a timber dresser becomes the showcase for Dianne’s collection of Santas (she tells that she has stopped collecting for the moment … until she gets a bigger dresser!); and just about everywhere else you care to look.
The house gleams and glistens, made all the more ‘glittering’ by way of over 1000 fairy lights. So proud is Dennis of the overall effect that last year he decided to extend the couple’s annual gathering of friends to include some 40 guests. Despite the fact that she was a little overwhelmed by it all, Dianne tells that she was delighted to think that he was so enthusiastic about the festive displays that he wanted to share them with others.
“The most wonderful thing happened on the night. All who were present truly felt the spirit of Christmas. We sang carols, the children ran about the place wide-eyed and so many of the guests passed the comment that they couldn’t remember when they had last experienced such a profound Christmas feeling. This year we’re planning to do it all again, but even better. I’m not sure how many are going to attend though because, as people were leaving last year, they were inviting themselves back and stating that they intended bringing their friends. We might just have to move a wall or two to fit them all in” Dianne jokes.
As she adds, it is such a fantastic thing to be caught up in the spirit of Christmas – that happy, holy season where goodwill comes home to take root and grow in each man’s heart. I concur with her comment completely … “what a wonderful epidemic it would be if the whole world were to return to the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.” May it be so, and may we each do our little bit to make it happen!