I remember Dad purchasing Mom a new North Pole lit piece for her village every year. It became a regular occurrence, and it was so exciting to figure out what Mom liked, and which piece was going to join the growing collection each year. The early years were completing the basics, like I discussed in this post: Department 56 North Pole Collection, and then after that it became about which house or scene caught mom and the family’s interest, or seemed to go with the existing pieces she had.
At this time, Department 56 was immensely popular, and was featured in lots of stores. You could find Department 56 in Hallmark, many department stores, and in lots of stand-alone collector shops. So we would browse all the time, even when Christmas was far away we were on the lookout for what we should add to the set next.
In 2004 I participated in the Walt Disney World College Program. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. In September, 2004 my program ended and I returned to my parent’s home with a more intense interest in Disney than ever. That Fall, during a North Pole scouting trip, we discovered one of my favorite lit houses of all time. “Mickey’s North Pole Holiday House”. It had been released in 2003, and there were still some on the shelves of stores, along with it’s accessory piece “Mickey Builds a Snowman.”
Fresh out of the Disney College Program, hopped up on 9 months of Disney indoctrination, I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this gorgeous piece. We were just checking out the new pieces as usual and there it was. I couldn’t believe it – Department 56 had actually licensed Mickey for the North Pole Village! I was speechless. Of course, my parents knew this was the one I wanted. It wasn’t always my choice, of course, but we all gave input, and they knew how much I loved the mouse.
I remember the scene like yesterday. The lit house itself was really expensive. (Of course, they had to pay for that licensing fee.) Mom and Dad didn’t think they could get the house at that time, and we all knew that it was not a “new” piece any longer, so unfortunately, if it sold out it might be gone for good. But they did get the adorable accessory, “Mickey Builds a Snowman” that coordinates with it, for placement in the Christmas village. I was so happy to be able to bring Mickey home to the North Pole set, even if it wasn’t with his lit house.
The Mickey Mouse accessory pictured above became part of the village every year.
Fast forward to 2006. I met Jim and moved in with him to our own home. That year for Christmas, my parents gave me the Mickey accessory from their own village. I didn’t even have any lit houses of my own yet, but I was so excited to open that beloved accessory. Then, the next box I opened was the real deal, the Mack Daddy of them all, the crème de la crème… Mickey’s North Pole Holiday House. It had been retired by then, but they found it, and gave it to me for Christmas. I was so happy.
The village pieces aren’t just ceramic, plastic, and paint to me. They mean so much more. I knew this was going to be the start of something awesome. (Poor Jim.)
My first piece was the beginning of a beautiful collection. Since then, the North Pole Village has had many Mickey official pieces, including “Mickey’s Watch Factory” along with “Mickey Approved”, and even a spin-off village of his own “Mickey’s Christmas Village” also by Department 56. I mix my favorite pieces from both sets together every year. Mickey’s North Pole Holiday house is one of my very favorites, along with the three pieces I mentioned in my first North Pole blog.
“Mickey’s Ski & Skate” is one of my favorite lit houses from “Mickey’s Christmas Village” and features “Goofy Takes a Tumble” (think Goofy’s “Yaaaaaaa-hoo-hoo-hoo-hooey!” from the old school cartoons) and “Mickey & Minnie Go Skating.”
Which piece is your favorite? Do you collect any Christmas villages? I’d love to hear from you.