Cities

It Takes a Village

Our holiday expert critiques readers’ Christmas creations

It Takes A Village-4
The Cold Heart of Summer

This is a quaint yet provocative setup. First off, the church that you have at centre stage is beautiful enough to start a holy war. I have an atheist disposition (in both my nihilism and penchant for buying philosophy books which I never read) but even I would give the Pope a full-frontal hug to get my mitts on that thing.

I also love how you set this village up beneath a framed painting of houses that would undoubtably be at home within your Christmas village. The painting, however, is set in summer. Is this a photo of the village in the summer from which it has fallen? Do the villagers carry this memory within their ceramic hearts now that they have been damned to live within an eternal, Narnian winter? Or is the summer painting nothing more than state propaganda, goading the unthinking peasants towards dreams they’ll never be able to realize?

It Takes A Village-1
A Stone Cold Hand in a Red Velvet Glove

This cluttered and slightly gauche set-up turns out to offer more than originally expected. Originally, my eye was drawn to the King Kong Santa Claus that you have towering over what I think is your courthouse.

But it was only when I realized how you set up your streetscape that I began to understand your larger artistic statement. As the expert viewer will see, you have an outer ring of buildings which fully encircle your downtown core; this enclosure ensures that all of your downtown shoppers, unknowingly purchasing their worthless gifts, will be trapped forever in this closed loop of capitalism. In this sense, your village offers a cutting commentary on the cyclic nature of capitalism and our own personal failings as cow-like consumers as we are trotted to the abattoirs of our own making. All this happens, beneath the malevolent eye of your God-like Santa.

I can’t think of a better time to make your artistic statement: God is dead. Santa lives forever.

It Takes A Village-3
Untitled

If it is a truth that the holiday season should make us think of those which are less fortunate than ourselves, then this village has done just that. When I first saw your village I thought, This is what Pyongyang must look like. Aside from there being (and I can’t stress this enough) absolutely no comprehensive city planning, your village also has a post-apocalyptic lack of people.

Furthermore, I notice that you have set up the village so that its back is to the living room. At first, I thought this odd since villages are usually set up so that people can actually see them; but then, upon careful consideration, I have realized that by turning your village’s back to the audience, you reaffirm your creation’s status as without equal. And within your homage to the dictators of East Asia, I have found something of my own desires: to eradicate my frail need to be appreciated. You are not burdened by the petty wants of your audience; you create for no other reason than that—like the Old Testament God—you can.

This all dramatically plays out in front of a piano which, judging by the amount of stuff that is stored on top of it, is never used.

It Takes A Village-5
A God Amongst Insects

Village-makers of the world take note: this is the respectable amount of space for a Christmas village to take up. A village should not be cluttered atop some bedside table or exiled to the mantel. A true village should be allowed to sprawl itself across a spacious dining room table.

While there is room for slight improvement (your fire station towers over your village like the Hagia Sophia), there are many strong points (you have a river that I would drown my first born in just so I could rent it for a year).

But most importantly, I would like to draw the audience’s eye to the two people reflected in the mirror. Madam, these are—I presume—your children. Look at how they have gathered just to catch a glimpse of your breathtaking creation. While I am not (thank the baby Jesus) a parent, I would bet that there must be at least some small, microscopic, teeny-weeny loathing directed towards one’s children. I weep at the thought of how much of your life you’ve had to give up just so you can support them: the flute practices, the birthday parties, the school plays. There might have even been—God, forbid—poetry recitals.

But now, behold those selfsame children—look at the power of the Christmas village. Like moths to a flame, they have been drawn towards your creation only for the privilege of seeing you in your almighty glory. Balance has finally been restored: they are the audience, you are the art.

It Takes A Village-2
The Reasons Why Someone Should Make A Spanish Inquisition Village

Sir, it is not surprising that you have not attached your name to this Harley Davidson village. Just like when I post my spiteful and malicious comments on Youtube videos, the Internet mercifully affords us a veil of anonymity.

Then how, you may ask, do I know you are a sir and not a madam? Easy: Much like my own Christmas village, I have the gender sensibilities of an austere Victorian.

I get it, you like Harley Davidson. Well, I like European history but you don’t see me getting a Christmas village of the Spanish Inquisition.

We—as artists—need to have some degree of separation between what we want to create and what the world needs for us to create.

Furthermore, do you realize that you are making Santa drive a motorcycle on roads that have been smothered by snow. You, good sir, are literally killing Christmas.

Happy holidays.

Richard Kelly Kemick (richardkemick.com) is a writer and a graduate student at the University of Calgary.

THEWALRUS.CA IS FREE. If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation to the charitable, non-profit Walrus Foundation. Learn More »

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER. Get the weekly roundup from The Walrus, a collection of our best stories, delivered to your inbox. Learn More »

Elsewhere on TheWalrus.ca