A home for the holidays

Christmas village has grown to cover 140 square-feet of Charlene McIntosh's Penticton home

Charlene McIntosh (left) and daughter Amanda look over the Christmas Village at the family home on Dartmouth Road this week. The work is comprised of about 1

Charlene McIntosh (left) and daughter Amanda look over the Christmas Village at the family home on Dartmouth Road this week. The work is comprised of about 1

Growing up, Charlene McIntosh did not have a lot, but these days remembering what she did have rekindles those fond memories of Christmases past

It wasn’t the few gifts under the sparsely decorated tree, but the time her large family spent together that was most important.

Now, what helps her relive those early days is the annual set-up of her 1,500-piece Christmas village which has grown to 140 square-feet in size and now takes up nearly the entire living room of her Dartmouth Road home.

A little gift of her own she likes to share with others at this time of year.

“It’s (village) about giving a little piece of Christmas to people and letting them remember what it is all about,” said McIntosh, 52. “It’s not about getting presents, it’s about giving, and my village I feel truly gives people a bit of the spirit, makes people smile, makes them happy and that’s what Christmas is all about.

“The real joy of it is watching people’s faces when they see it. When they walk into my house they know it’s Christmas, and the adults are just as starry eyed as the kids.”

The holiday tradition — which McIntosh refers to as an obsession — actually began 18 years ago when she was living in Aldergrove and received a few of the items as a gift.

“It started under my tree and then I got more pieces and it went across the floor and then I said to my husband Jock, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ and so he built me a stand and it went from one stand to three and now…” she said as her eyes wandered over the blinking lights and moving figures. “I tell everybody it’s an addiction and that I need to go to Village Anonymous or maybe be on a reality show.”

The three-tiered display has a population of about 300 human figurines, a countless variety of animals, every type of business imaginable and a working ski hill.

Having taken on a life of its own, the McIntosh residence now has six dedicated electrical breaker switches for the village alone.

And the electric bill?

“No, I’ve never actually figured that out because I don’t care, this is about Christmas,” she replied.

“A couple of years ago everybody wanted to give me some money to help pay for it but I said no, but what I do have now is a donation jar for charity.”

In addition to that donation, the McIntoshes also adopt a family every Christmas.

Setting up the village this year took her and 18-year-old daughter Amanda about 26 hours over a two-day period.

Despite the large number of pieces, she is familiar with each and the original ones from all those years ago have their own special place.

And as it has every year, the village continues to grow, and although again the edict from on high is it will not get any larger, Charlene, as usual, plans to ignore it.

While her husband and daughter help out wherever they can, it’s quite clear this is mom’s baby.

When asked how her family feels about the obsession, Charlene nods in Amanda’s direction for the answer.

“I’m going to bury it with her,” said the younger McIntosh with a wry laugh.

Her mother admitted the world has changed since she was a kid, and not necessarily for the better, but she hopes she is able to give at least a few people some good memories of their own.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Keremeos Grist Mill and Gards is preparing for another season of their Pantry Share program, distributing monthly packages with preserves like the one taken in the photo above. (Grist Mill Facebook)
Shares in heritage community garden program go on sale

The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos is bringing back its Pantry Share for 2021

Expect cold weather and snow over the weekend. (Submitted photo)
Prepare for subzero weekend in South Okanagan

Expect some snow to start falling Saturday night and into Sunday

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near Penticton schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

Flooding has become a reality for many communities in the Okanagan Valley as the region faces more extreme weather storms, blamed on the impact of climate change. (File photo)
Okanagan high target for spring flooding

Higher snowpack and mild winter precipitation levels raise concerns for Canada’s insurance industry

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

Lake Country firefighters helped deliver a healthy newborn baby Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Pixabay)
Lake Country firefighters help deliver baby boy

Firefighters from the Winfield hall assisted with the birth of a healthy newborn Thursday morning

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Most Read