The Christmas decorations are up.  The process always brings back memories from lots of past Christmases.  The picture below is of houses and toys from the Christmas Garden or train platform I grew up with beginning in earliest memory.  They were on the platform for my brother before me so, presuming he got them by age five, they’re around 87 years old now.  The items are a little chipped here and there, one of the cars has lost a wheel, and one of the houses is leaning a little.  I’m kind of in the same shape.

Image 01

I have more of the items including the Lionel freight train set from the 20’s but they’re stored away in the basement.


Here is a city comprised of models based on buildings found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, particularly with the emphasis on half-timbered construction.  I’ve built these models over the past thirteen years from kits made by Faller, a German company.   The prototype for the six buildings together on the right is in Frankfurt and I’ve visited there.  Known as the Römer, the square was heavily damaged by Allied bombing but since rebuilt.  The model city being arranged on my coffee table, I think of it as Stadt Kaffeetisch.

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Here is a closeup of the building fronts showing the great detail in these kits.

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Below is a more contemporary, classic small town winter/Christmas scene.  Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell are in there somewhere.  It includes two of the ceramic houses from the Snow Village line of Department 56.  These are a pretty good scale size next to O-gauge trains so I began to buy these in ’87. 

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I soon had some 44 buildings plus accessories on my old 200+ square feet, O-gauge, three rail, three mainlines layout seen here.  My daughter, Sigrid, used to say that she’d like to live in the village.  It seems like a world where there is peace, no stress, no poverty, no disease, and everyone’s nice all the time.   As a part of my move, however, the residents were evicted by right of eminent domain: the layout was disassembled and the houses packed away but I pulled out eight of them for the living room this year.

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In the years before I plunged back into photography I did a lot of stained glass work.  Here’s an original design that has just been hung again for the holidays.  The creche set next below was from a 70’s pattern book and I still see them from time to time.  I made a number of them over the years but lavished special care on the last three sets, one each for my daughters and one for me.   I visited Sigrid this week and was pleased to see her set out amongst the greens.  (For more of my stained glass work you can click on that title at the top of the screen.)

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Finally, I still struggle with a real tree.  (N.B.  It’s not a holiday tree; it’s a Christmas tree.)  It’s a chore getting it home and into the house and into its holder and stringing the old fashioned lights with the foil reflectors I found on ebay.  Then my friend, Barbara, helped me hang the ornaments.   A few carry tags as from my grandparents’ or my parents’ trees;  others were accumulated by us over the years, typically from the Wanamaker Christmas Shop after seeing Santa.  Of course there’s the late Vince Guaraldi’s “Charley Brown Christmas” or Julie Andrews’ “Christmas Treasure” albums playing while we do the trimming.  The tree is then dressed with glass icicles and tinsel from my dwindling supply that I hide from the EPA.  (I think I still have a lifetime supply.)

What a joy it is to see it done, glowing softly and filling the house with its fragrance.

I understand the ecumenism and inclusivity that has led to “Happy Holidays” and I certainly wish them to all.

But, I also have to say (borrowing from Clement Moore) … Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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17 Responses to “CHRISTMAS SCENES AT BergiesPlace”

  1. denisebushphoto Says:

    Thanks for sharing your Christmas decorations … you have some great ones! They have lifted my Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. Bonnie Rovere Says:

    Simply beautiful Ralph. You certainly have a lot of patience being able to put those house together from a kit! It’s been years since I did stained glass and I might have to start up again seeing such wonderful inspirations! Have a very Merry Christmas.

  3. Susan Angulo Says:

    Miss you Ralph as our neighbor! Merry Christmas and A joyous New Year. See you soon.
    Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures with us.

  4. Del Cannon Says:

    Very nice memories Ralph. Have a wonderful Christmas with the family and give them my best wishes.

  5. Pat Worley Says:

    Thank you for sharing your Christmas with me( I realize you are sharing this with many people, but I felt as though you were telling me the story personally). Merry, Merry Christmas!

  6. Tracey Says:

    Just lovely…thank you. This made my morning!

  7. Skip Vandegrift Says:

    Your shared thoughts and images provide us all a little ‘something extra’ in life. Thank you and a Merry Chrismas to YOU!
    Skip V.

    • Bill Bergman Says:

      Donna is trying to find your new address. my grandson has my Lionel which I think must be about the same age as yours. We have been wondering how the shore place made out in the big storm. Have a healthy and Merry Xmas. Bill Bergman

  8. gordon Brummer Says:

    It was a real pleasure seeing most of these “up close and personal” the other night, and the town we didn’t see is absolutely incredible. Your live tree is the second most impressive one at Medford Leas!! Sally and Gordon

  9. Jan Narducci Says:

    Beautiful Ralph, I would get back into stained glass— your pieces are wonderful.

  10. Ken Curtis Says:

    You must have had a wonderful time years ago with the train set and buildings. What a treasure. Too bad you don’t have room for them now. However, your tree and Stadt Kaffeetisch are very nice. Have a merry Christmas, Ralph. Look forward to seeing you sometime in 2013

  11. Doug Springer Says:

    I always enjoy your pictures, but these are really special!

  12. John Costello Says:

    Ralph, It is all just great and evocative of Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Sally Vennel Says:

    Ralph – What a treat to see this post, and what incredible work you have done over the years. That is the best I have seen anywhere. We just got back to Colorado and I will dig a few boxes out of storage and put some decorations up now that I am inspired, but nothing like yours. Have a Merry Christmas!! Sally

  14. MikeP Says:

    What joyous pics for the season…. hers to more for 2013… all my best to you and your family.

  15. Terry Wilson Says:

    A little late to the party, but I’m reminded of your open house a few years back when a lot of us got to see your trains in all their glory. It was a treasured experience, and it’s nice to know a little history. I bet your tree is great in person, with all the old fashioned decorations. By tinsel, are you talking about the crinkled kind that you could wad up into balls and throw at your brother? I remember that kind. I guess it had lead in it, huh?

  16. Sartenada Says:

    Wow. These are great – I love them. My hat! I am glad that You gave the link and I had possibility to admire them. Thank You.

    I am retired since 2004. I have told about my life with pictures in my About me.

    All the best!

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