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A wonder to behold

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An addition to the Helgeland house gave Lois room to display her growing village.

An entire room is dedicated to Lois Helgeland's incredible Victorian village, but that's just the beginning ... there are delightful discoveries to be found throughout her house at Christmastime.

To say Christmas is Lois' favorite holiday is clearly an understatement. Family members can only shake their heads when she brings home a tiny building she picked up at Heirlooms for Hospice, or an advent calendar from Renovators Warehouse that will be a perfect addition to her collection. But that's OK-- Lois has holiday spirit to spare. And thanks to an addition to her home, she also has room to set up five rectangular tables for her village. When that addition was completed in 2006, the village consisted of just five buildings and a gazebo. It's grown from there. At last count, Lois said she had 182 small figurines of animals and people.

The village square boasts two pubs, a general store, a mill, a liquor store, an apothecary, blacksmith shop, pewter dealer, toy store, Christmas shoppe and the City Gazette. A firehouse, police department and post office are neatly arranged around the clock tower in the center of the square. Lois tries to contain "town" on one of the five tables. "Town is about full ... I might be able to squeeze in one more building," she said.

A church and a school separate "town" from the residential area, where ornate multi-storied Victorians line the street. All the buildings are lighted at night to complete the magical scene.

In front of the houses is a park where children build snowmen, walk their dogs, have snowball fights and skate on the frozen pond. The houses thin out at the edge of the forest, which takes up another table.

While similar in size, the buildings are from a variety of manufacturers and have been purchased over the years at Delta Hardware, Michael's and Lowe's. After Christmas, each building goes back into its original box "and I stay out of the way," says Lois' husband Bob.

"The decor in this room is all ocean the rest of the year," Lois said. Her fascination with the ocean dates to a trip she took to visit an aunt in Oregon when she was a young girl.

She bridges summer and winter decor with a small tree covered with nautical ornaments. It's positioned adjacent to "lighthouse corner," which boasts seven lighthouses and a new boat.

Moving into the main part of the house, Lois points out Charlie Brown world, where with a touch of a button Lucy cries out, "Ugh, I've been kissed by a dog!" Another display plays the "Peanuts" theme.

Throughout the house, display cases and shelves are filled with snowmen, Santas, angels and more, but there's order among the chaos. Lois puts a lot of thought into her groupings, pausing as she moves through the house to shift a figurine just a bit. The artificial tree is a work in progress, but when completed will display 250-300 ornaments, each one unique.

Lois points out the pieces she's picked up during her extensive travels. Lois is entering her 33rd year as a 4-H leader, and many of the trips she's taken have been to state, regional and national 4-H forums. Closer to home, she said she's on a first-name basis with the owners of the Hallmark store in Pueblo, where she's a building superintendent for the Colorado State Fair. There are no longer any Hallmark stores on the Western Slope, she said, so she makes it a point to visit the Pueblo store every summer.

Then in the winter, she brings out the new pieces, carefully arranging them alongside the classics that have been part of her holiday displays for years. Where some see a lot of work, Lois treasures the opportunity to create holiday memories. If you'd like to see her village, give her a call -- but be sure to allow plenty of time to fully appreciate all the intricate details of the magical scene she's set.

Photo by Pat Sunderland An antique buffet provides a beautiful backdrop for Christmas decor.
Photo by Pat Sunderland Lighthouse corner, complete with a new boat.
Photo by Pat Sunderland This reindeer training center is one of several ceramic pieces Lois finished herself.
Photo by Pat Sunderland Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and Charlie Brown are all part of this winter scene at the Brown house.
Photo by Pat Sunderland The pastel-colored house in the center of this photo is one of Lois’ favorites, mainly because of its detail. Clothes have been hung out to dry on one side of the house, and the living room window provides a glimpse of a holiday scene inside.
Photo by Pat Sunderland This tree’s nautical theme reflects Lois’ love of the ocean.
Photo by Pat Sunderland The snow-covered forest invokes a feeling of serenity.
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