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Home a holiday hub
Woman’s vision enlivens village
Forsyth County resident Deborah Marling’s Christmas village has more than 400 structures and 1,000 figures. - photo by Autumn McBride

Think your Christmas decorations are festive? Deborah Marling’s collection is downright impressive.

With more than 400 structures and 1,000 figures, her holiday village has grown to what some would say is a small country.

“My Christmas village stays up all year and I’ve been collecting since I was 14,” Marling said.

She had a special area built in her north Forsyth home for the village, which includes a mountain, harbor and, of course, the North Pole.

Moving pieces — including cable cars, skiers and children throwing snowballs — are among her grandchildren’s favorites.

The village also features a casino, bakeries, drug stores, post office, fire department, police station and a moving train.

“At this point, if I want to buy something new, I’d have to condemn a house,” she said. “But I still can buy people and little things to put in it.”

Marling, who is a financial adviser, said her children like to pull pranks on her and move pieces around when they come to visit.

“My children hate it, my grandkids love it,” she joked, adding that her husband has learned to live with it over the years.

Marling’s daughter, Christy Dwyer, agreed.

“There used to be a tree, I think there still is, that has presents underneath it and we’ll pick them up and throw them in the village,” Dwyer said.

“We’ll stand people upside down, put people on the roof that shouldn’t be on the roof, just little stupid things like that.”

Despite her and her siblings’ aversion to the village, Dwyer recalled how their friends growing up “thought it was cool.”

Today, she jokes that she often feels like she’s enabling an addict.

“We still buy her things for it, even though everybody complains about it,” Dwyer said. “I don’t know why, but we do.”

The rest of Marling’s house is also decorated to the hilt, including two Christmas trees, lights, garland, reindeer, stockings and the like.

She said her family has a tradition of putting puzzles together every year and once complete, she hangs them on her walls.

“We’ve always had a rule that from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve there are always puzzles in this house,” she said. “Whoever comes over has to find five pieces or they can’t leave.”

Marling said she decorates for other holidays throughout the year, though Christmas is her favorite.

“I think it’s the one time of a year you can be a kid and nobody complains about it,” she said.