It Takes a Village

Written by Jeannette Nieder

Linda and Paul Davis of Nashua travel to Crotched Mountain twice a year during the snowiest months. In late November or early December they arrive with boxes of magic and transform an empty display case by the ramp into a winter village of lights, elves, reindeer and a couple of Santas! The display stays up through February when they return again to take down the village and store the houses and figurines until it is time to bring it back to life again.

This began over 20 years ago when Linda’s brother was a client in the Adult Acquired Brain Injury Unit in Upper Mellons. The Davises belonged to a club of about 35 – 40 collectors called the NH Village People. The owner of the Christmas House in Kennebunkport, Maine encouraged the club to reach out to stores and individuals to donate pieces of the Studio 56 North Pole Series for the Crotched Mountain Village.

Originally, 20 members put up the village while Linda’s brother and his friends sang carols. Over time, they streamlined the installation. They carved mountains for the background and designed the modular layout specifically for our display. In 2013, the addition of a backdrop of two layers of glitter cloth created a two dimensional night sky full of stars.

Over the years, volunteers passed away, retired or moved away – leaving their collection to Linda and Paul who are now the keepers of the tradition.

One day, a visiting resident of Greenfield who used to eat lunch at our cafeteria would stop by the Volunteer manager’s office to ask when the village would be installed. He would sit at the table in the hallway and enjoy the scene. Dick was there on a day Linda and Paul were installing the village and had the opportunity to thank them. He left only to return to donate Santa’s biplane to add to the display.

They recall the year the Mellons clients wanted to direct where everything was placed – asking if they could have the reindeer flying. That year a reindeer perched in a tree.

Though Linda’s brother was discharged from Crotched Moutain many years ago, Linda and Paul keep the tradition going each year and happily receive the thanks of students and staff.

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