In 1988, Jim Morrison (no, not that Jim Morrison), a life-long Christmas enthusiast, purchased a multi-piece display called "Tudor Towne" from the Christiana Mall in Delaware. Filled with lifelike, anthropomorphic animals, all decked out in Victorian era winter garb, the animated tableau takes viewers into a whimsical storybook world where chapters of the story unfold along a winding, faux cobblestone pathway. Christiana Mall was updating its holiday decor and Morrison was pleased to acquire the exhibit. He added it to his already massive Christmas collection.
|Well, of course, this is the owner.|
While scanning the news feed on her Facebook page, Mrs. Pincus came across a post highlighting the National Christmas Center. The brief description was intriguing and, seeing how, once again, I found myself with a surplus of unused vacation days at the end of the calendar year, my wife and I planned a road trip to Amish country on the Tuesday afternoon before Christmas. Paradise is just a bit over an hour from Philadelphia. With Mrs. P in her natural surroundings — behind the wheel of her car — we headed out, not quite knowing what to expect.
We passed a number of large farms as we snaked up Route 30. There were small pockets of commerce — strip centers with a large supermarket anchoring smaller businesses like auto parts dealers and feed stores. But mostly there was farmland. Some were made up of bare fields while others were dotted with small herds of cows, grazing in bare fields. Our GPS announced that our destination was ahead on the right and, sure enough, the friendly facade of the National Christmas center loomed large just over the crest of a hilly section of blacktop highway. We parked and noticed that for a weekday, the lot was fairly crowded. We joined several folks in a queue to purchase admission ($12.50 for adults and five dollars for kids) and soon we entered for our self-guided tour.
We were surprised by the sheer amount of stuff assembled inside this nondescript building. We were also surprised by the meticulous attention to detail each and every display boasted. This was not some thrown-together roadside tourist trap. This was a lovingly conceived and presented collection, professionally executed and very well maintained. We were among the youngest visitors that day, with the average tourist having nearly twenty years on us. We were also unique for most likely being the only ones taking the tour who never celebrated Christmas and have no fond childhood memories of anything among the Center's contents.
I'm glad I got to tour the National Christmas Center. I would recommended it to all nostalgia lovers for a fun, interesting and educational day — even if you don't celebrate Christmas. But, hurry, because time is running out.
Unless, of course, you'd like to buy it.
* * * * UPDATE * * * *
The National Christmas Center has closed its doors forever on January 7, 2018.