The Miniature Christmas Scene
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(Fanatic Project of a Lifetime)

Have you ever had one of those really "great" ideas that just didn't quite turn out the way you'd expected? Well, I have, and although this one turned out okay in many respects, it is a story worth telling...

Once upon a time, long before personal computers were around and there was no such thing as spending time at the Mall or sitting in front of the television for hours on end, I decided I wanted to handcraft something special for my family for Christmas. This was a time when doll houses and miniature replicas were quite the fad, so I figured I would make miniature Christmas scenes under glass for my parents, my grandmother, my sister, my brother, and one for me. I have such fond memories of family Christmases that I wanted to try to capture the feelings and simplicity of all those years.

Well, to make a really LONG story short, that didn't quite happen. Sometimes I have a tendency to be a little too perfectionistic and that precision certainly reared its ugly head during this escapade! I started the project in late-July that year and found myself obsessing over doing everything exactly just so. I got the bright idea to duplicate an actual real-life scene in 1/12-scale miniature replica. Not just any holiday scene, but a Leiber Family snapshot from the past. And that, of course, meant that I'd have to construct most of the tiny pieces myself (rather than try to find them to purchase them), in order to match "reality". (Like I still had a grasp on reality at this point!)

I spent entire weekends, late weekday nights, and even lunch-hours at work building parts of the creation. (And since I worked for the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. at the time, I might have even spent some workdays in this craze!) In total, I ended up spending over 1100 hours on this beast!

Oh yes, singular. That time was all spent on ONE scene, so needless to say, only Mom and Dad got one/it! Not only did I not have the time to make one for each of us, after all of this, the last thing I ever wanted to handle again in my entire life would be another miniature! And since I created a living room scene, I decided to change the presentation and instead of putting it under a glass dome, I'd put it in its own container to look like a wrapped Christmas package.

So this is how the outside looked:
The structure was made out of foam-core board and covered in greeting-paper-like fabric. I made the lid removable and put a big red bow of cloth ribbon on top.

There was an engraved brass plate attached to the center of the bottom section which read "A Leiber Family Christmas (circa 1960)". On the underside of the package was a covered trap-door that opened up to a battery housing for two 'C' batteries to power the lights on the miniature tree.

The front panel was a frame of clear glass so that the insides could be seen without opening the package. However, it was hinged at the bottom so that once the lid is removed, two velcro side tabs can be unfastened and the glass panel folds down to expose the interior scene.

Please click here to see more photos and read more about the project.