By DANYEL VANREENEN
HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. — Saying that Regina Franklin is a Christmas enthusiast may be putting it lightly. With the help of friends and neighbors — and a lot of yard sale shopping over the years — Franklin has started her own holiday tradition as a reminder of the joyous spirit Christmas brings.
The outside of Franklin’s home was sparsely decorated; the inside, however, was transformed into a beautiful Christmas town.
This is the first time in a few years Franklin has built her Christmas village. The tiny houses, people and carriages sprawl underneath and around her Christmas tree which stands in the center of her living room. Franklin calls her display the town of “purrfect.”
Franklin has even created a backstory for the town and its residents. Her love for the Christmas season, for cats and for her tiny town is evident.
Franklin said her collection began around 1999 when she and her husband moved to their home at The Woods Resort.
“It started with four buildings,” Franklin said. “I found them on sale at Big Lots. Over the years, I found more buildings on sale. Friends and neighbors started giving me little houses and shoppes they found. A neighbor of mine started constructing platforms for the town to sit on. I have a synagogue, a church, a ferris wheel, a marina, a castle on a hill — I call that part of town Berkeley Springs — and three post offices as well as other little things.”
Although Franklin said all of the buildings and homes are her favorite, she has a special connection to one piece in particular.
In the marina Franklin constructed, she said there is a piece of redwood from the California redwood forest. She and her late husband, Lon Franklin, traveled to California years ago. While there, Franklin purchased a piece of redwood along with carved seagull figurines. Franklin pinned the seagulls to the wood which now sits proudly in her town.
“It’s just a good memory,” Franklin said.
Franklin said the display has grown over the years and her backstory for the town has grown with it. Franklin said she usually begins setting the display up the day after Halloween.
“It takes me about three weeks to build it all,” she said. “I like it to be ready for Thanksgiving. This year, my friend Ruth and my two kids helped when they came to visit at Thanksgiving.”
Franklin also has a nativity scene displayed to celebrate the season as well. She also looks forward to spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family.
“I love Christmas because it’s so joyous and about the good things in life,” Franklin said. “It’s about a new beginning for humanity, and we could all use a little happiness.”
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