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October 15, 2021




OK Gang - Gather 'round the campfire. It's "StoryTime" on TVC.


Well, ya need language to tell stories. Let's see how that started.

There is a lot of information about the deep study of

“Cognitive Linguistics” but for our purposes, this will do:


“Speakers were, and are, forever discovering new ways to convey

meanings and ideas by producing sounds."



All this means is, that since the beginning of language, around 500,000

years ago, speech has evolved, in an effort to increase the ability to

communicate. And this “speech” was developed to tell stories. You know,

"It's teeth were THIS big" but most likely the exact quote was "ugh ugh ow."

Communication improved, as it evolved through song, poems, chants and

fireside stories. Early poets were known as “Weavers of Words” for their

mastery over the spoken word to tell their stories. This act of story telling

has been an important part of civilization and society. We all know someone

we feel is a great storyteller . . . a friend, author, or personality, and they

stand out in a crowd because of their ability to convey a “story”.



Stories can bring people together, and strengthen the “tribal” bonds. All

sorrows can be borne, if you put them into a story, or tell a story about them.

Stories make better, and longer lasting, memories. I’ve always believed life is

just a collection of memories, and the better the memories, the better the life.

Yes, stories are important for remembering things, and enhancing the

entertainment value of those memories.


You just KNOW this is a story about his village.


Most of us display at least a couple of lit buildings each year. When

others view your display, a “back story” about a piece adds to the viewer’s

involvement in the viewing experience. Picture this: “Here’s my village.”

“Oh, that’s nice, it’s pretty and Christmasy.” OR “These buildings come from

a trip where we saw the real version of these. They were . . .”  That draws

the viewer into your world a little more, enhances their enjoyment a bit,

starts more discussions, and improves the likelihood of remembering what

they saw. A story can be conveyed through an arranged scene as simple

as a snowball fight, or a fantasy about who is throwing the snowballs, or

facts about how snowballs are made, and even inject a dose of humor.



For example, here’s a classic snowball fight.

There are plenty of pieces available to create this.



However, choice of placement can create more of a story,

without saying anything.



You can fill your village with little stories such as these, or also have

an overall story to go with everything. That’s one of the reasons I really

enjoy Larry Treadwell’s creativity in his annual “Hauntsville” and

“Dickens Christmas” villages. He brings his villages to life, and we

enter his world to be entertained with a story. 


Click on Hauntsville to experience examples of Larry's imagination.


HOW you share the visual story can also enhance the experience as well.

Visuals, fantasies, or factual background information, can all play a part

to enhance your villaging experience, even if you’re the only one to

see/hear/enjoy it. Don’t overlook the power of including stories to enhance

memories just for yourself as well. Great pointers covering this aspect can

be found in Jim Peters’ columns, that will be sure to add to your

“village storytelling” ability.


Click on the above photo to see examples of Jim Peters' teachings.


While either real or fantasy is a plus, the best (for both the displayer and

observer) is when it becomes a personal story. Either ABOUT a building,

or GETTING a building.



Back in the “Golden Age” of villaging, when there was a pronounced

difference between collecting and acquiring, we sometimes had a story

about how we found a certain piece. A deal at a flea market or garage

sale, a souvenir from a vacation, a seemingly unending hunt for that

special retired piece, etc, all provided great stories. 


Some of us can remember being at one of the hundreds of gatherings,

and sitting around swapping stories. I truly enjoyed that. Now, it seems like,

“I liked this piece, so I ordered it on line, and it was delivered the next day.

It was exciting tracking that package.” That’s one of the differences between

collecting and acquiring, and not much of a story. (But it’s still a story)



That’s GETTING a building, but the top of the "powerful story" list

is ABOUT a building. What a building means personally. I have many

tales from over the years, but it all seemed to be summed up with

this example from “e_xander” on our forum.  then click on Forums,

Christmas Today Section, Christmas Collecting,

Villages, and, What's Your Favorite Piece.  Link


In 1992 he bought a NOMA village starter set for his Mom, Betsy, and it

began her villaging experience. When she passed away, he was able to

save that set. Obviously, that personal story adds a ton to that piece, but

it continued . . . last year, before he could retrieve any more pieces, his

Mom’s house totally blew up, destroying everything. This set is all that he

has of his Mom’s village, and that is VERY special. I will always remember

this special story, and that’s my point. Thanks so much, e_xander, for

sharing this. This column is dedicated to Betsy.




Certain pieces have a tendency to lend themselves to creating stories,

thereby enhancing your display. One such piece is a train. Those that

wish to add a “model railroad” can find out more on “The Train Station”

page, where Brian will cover that for you.


Click on the "Train" above to go directly to "The Train Station"

and see the beginnings of Brian Vaill's columns.


But in this column, I’ll talk about trains that don’t/can’t move.

The porcelain locomotive! 



Almost every brand has at least one train station available. Even

more have porcelain trains, some even lit, ranging in prices from

under a dollar to well over $300.




Trains expand your display stories from just the town square, to the next

town, or even the rest of the world. Just having a train “parked” at a station

adds the opportunity for many, many stories. Is the kindly, old cobbler leaving

his shoe repair to set up in another town? Or ??? You decide. It’s your story.



Even without a finished display, it seems to be a basis for another

story. Everything can become a story when you add a train.



Even without a train, just the tracks can add to the story of your

village, and lend an overall sense of movement. Passengers sitting

at an empty station can conjure up many thoughts of what is,

what might be, or what will be.




HOW you display your “train” can dramatically change the story as well.

At a station, coming out of a tunnel, partially hidden behind a building, etc. 




How important are stories? Imagine selling something without a

story. Check packaging on anything. You’ll usually find a story.

This was on a NOMA village box.



Anything that adds a story or two, can lend itself to needing more

standing/sitting accessories, each with another story or sight gag.

Hobo camp? Snowball fight? Alien attack? Want more ideas?

Anything that adds a story or two is a neat addition. It’s always

better when you can bring your village alive. Your efforts could be

the seed that starts a new story for your visitors, to use with their

displays when they get home. Check out the on-going discoveries

in David Spears’ columns for plenty of ideas and inspirations.


Click on the "canoe paddle" to see some

examples of things discovered by David Spears.



WHAT??? You want MORE?

Don’t believe there are many options for porcelain trains? Here’s

the results of a VERY brief search. Can you find something to fit

YOUR village. Of course you can. It’s story time.


























So, your story could be “about” your village, or “in” your village.

It’s all a part of villaging, and YOU get to create it.



And what about the viewers of your displays?


Well  . . .  that’s another story.


. . . and please don’t forget to tell your friends.





Oops, take your umbrella down too soon?

Now THAT'S a train story !!

C'ya next time




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