Debbie and Matthew Schweinberg love Christmas — maybe even a bit more than most.
The couple — who moved to Concord in 1988 with then young sons, Matthew Jr. and Randy — has dedicated more than half of their formal living room to a unique Charles Dickens-themed Christmas village, which they set up the week after Thanksgiving.
Debbie said Matthew, “who helps me a lot with the work,” designed and built the oversized project area, which features both a camping table and a drop table element, allowing Debbie to carefully lay out the scene beginning at the far edges.
“I have to build it back to front,” Debbie said. “I can actually get inside it, even after it’s set up, in case I need to change anything.
“I try to lay it out as a logical town — it can be a challenge, with all the lights, and making sure you can’t see any wires,” she added, noting she uses paper clips to secure the wiring.
“It takes about five days to set it all up.”
She is extremely organized.
“I have an Excel spread sheet to keep up with the people and buildings,” Debbie said.
Among the 47 unique buildings and homes, Ebenezer Scrooge’s house is depicted, lit from within, revealing the floating spirits, which visited him in the classic holiday tale “A Christmas Carol.”
Ten horse figurines and more than 100 “people” dot the landscape, along with trees and shrubbery, archways and lighted elements — including luminaries — in between a variety of homes, churches and extemporaneous buildings.
In addition to keeping the Dickens time frame and theme, “we also tried to personalize it, to our family’s interests,” Debbie said. She pointed out a wine maker’s establishment — as they enjoy wine — a knife works business, a nod to son Matthew Jr.’s own knife-making profession, and a guitar-carrying figurine as a miniature stand-in for son, Randy, by the village’s Music Emporium.
Debbie’s mother actually started her on the collection, giving her 20 of the buildings in 2012. She then added to the village over the years through finds on Ebay and even a local business, Consign by Design, which intermittently carried the pieces — specifically the Dept. 56 brand.
They love sharing the village with friends and family before disassembling it in February. “That’s long enough,” Debbie said, storing it in their “Christmas closet,” specially built several years ago.
To schedule a tour, e-mail Debbie at email@example.com.