For years, a local husband and wife have been creating an amazing winter wonderland display inside their home. It's not your typical decoration. It's more like something made for a movie.
Until Christmas Day, the family had only shown it to friends, family and neighbors.
Hyla and Loyd Lott go all out when decorating their home for Christmas. Over the years, during the course of their travels around the globe, they have collected almost every Christmas decoration one could think of, and some that you may have never seen; meet Dobson the Butler, for instance.
From the merriment of the pies and cookies and warm apple cider, to the décor of the reindeer and slay, the Lotts say it is all about capturing the joy and beauty of Christmas.
"It gets changed around a lot because it won't look good in some places, but when it is in the right place, I know," Hyla Lott said.
"That's where her creativity comes in," Loyd Lott said. "She's very creative in arranging things."
There is something the Lotts do that goes beyond putting out traditional Christmas decorations; Dickens Village.
It is the kind of thing you have to see to believe, but even then, it's still hard to understand how it was all created, and trying to take it all in at once will overwhelm you. At best, you can try to appreciate it a little bit at a time, scene by scene, house by house, character by character; and just when you think you've got your mind wrapped around it, you'll notice something new and unexpected. It's another example of the meticulous preciseness and attention to detail that was exercised in making the world and bringing it to life.
"It started with my mother buying one store, or one house for us, which was a grocery store," Lott said. "And my dad owned a grocery store, so that's the reason why she bought that particular one. Then we liked it, we added to it."
Added to it they did. The one house grew to 150 houses. Loyd and Hyla Lott also bought hundreds of accessories for the village, including carriages, people and trees. In fact, the Lotts have spent tens of thousands of dollars since 1985 to construct this magical place.
Dickens Village is designed to look like 19th-century Victorian England, to recreate, as it were, the world of Charles Dickens' 1843 classic, A Christmas Carol; but when they began, the Lotts never imagined the village would get as big as it has.
"I just thought, maybe I could outdo the last time, and so that's how it finally grew to this size," Lott said. "I just wanted to do a little bit more, a little bit bigger, and I think we've reached our limit now."
Hyla Lott said it took three months of her working eight hours a day to create the Dickens Village, a land of make believe that is so detailed it looks real.
There is a story to be told behind every piece of the Dickens Village, like the real-life forest wood from New Mexico that is used to support the railroad tracks, or the wood chips and moss that line the sides of the cliffs that cover the wires that light the houses; but one question remains. Why? Why spend so much time, effort, energy and money on something like the Dickens Village?
"I guess the little girl in me is still coming out," Hyla Lott said. "That would be it. A fantasy land."
Perhaps that is quite appropriate, as Dickens himself wrote, "for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas."
Sadly, this will be the last Christmas that the Lott's will create Dickens Village, as this particular story has reached its final chapter.
"Well, each time, I'd always have a vision of the next time, and this one, I have no vision," Lott said.
The Lotts say they will take down Dickens Village for the last time in February.
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