Christmas display makes final appearance
Sunday’s reception marking the final public display of Mary Jeffrey’s Christmas village at Valley United Methodist Church in Marion was a bittersweet affair.
Jeffrey has set up her display of houses, churches, stores, schools, and people bustling about on the streets of the village for each of the last 12 to 15 years. The display covers seven large tables. A lighthouse shines a beacon, Santa talks to children after stepping off a plane, a one-horse carriage takes people down the street, Salvation Army bell-ringers seek to make Christmas better for the poor, people buy Christmas trees at a tree lot, and children play in the snow.
Jeffrey visited with people who came to take pleasure in seeing the village one last time before it fades into Christmas history.
She remembered the first piece she purchased nearly 30 years ago. It was a church.
“The second one was the school because I taught for 30 years,” Jeffrey said. She still volunteers at Marion Elementary School.
Her family helped her collect the pieces. Grandson Clinton Jeffrey first went shopping for village pieces with her when he was 4.
When Jeffrey begins packing the pieces back in their boxes Dec. 26, she knows it will be a poignant task.
“Family and friends will get pieces of the collection they love.
“Already there are pieces that have been spoken for,” Jeffrey said. “I said, ‘You look because if there’s a piece you especially want, you write it down.’”
Jeffrey’s eyes filled briefly with tears.
“I probably need a special day to look at each piece and say goodbye,” she said.
Not only is the village beloved by her and her family, it is also beloved by the members of the church where she has displayed it so many years.
Susan Robson came to see the village’s final display carrying a fragrant loaf of freshly-baked bread for Jeffrey.
“Thank you for doing this all these years,” Robson told her.
The village can be viewed through Christmas. Appointments can be made by calling the church office at (620) 382-3142.