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Sprawling Dickens Village holiday tradition for Thornhill family
Dec. 11, 2014
By Brea Bartholet

As the holiday season kicks into full swing, the sight of festive outdoor lights and decorations across the community seems never ending.

Inside Penny Johnson’s Thornhill home, however, you’ll find a spectacular version of Dickens Village - a porcelain display of miniature homes and accessories.

The family’s collection began 25 years ago when Johnson and her husband, Andrew, decided they would buy one house for every year they were married.

Admittedly, Johnson says one usually turned into four or five.

“I went a little overboard sometimes. We now have over 160 homes for the display.”

During the holiday season, the decorative pieces transform the Johnson’s dining room into a magical winter wonderland.

Propped up on 10 folding tables, the Dickens Village creates a warm, welcoming environment for family and friends - so much so, that some have even purchased homes to be included in the display.

“Everyone really enjoys it. When people come over, they look at it and say, ‘Now this is Christmas’,” explained Johnson.

“One year we chose not to put it up, and our kids said they really didn’t like it. It just wasn’t the same, so we’ve made sure to set it up ever since.”

On average, the entire display takes a week to set up. If Johnson’s kids are around to help, however, it can take as little as two days.

Surprisingly, despite the use of extra electricity, the home’s hydro bill only sees a small increase - even with the addition of some Christmas lights outdoors.

“We’ve never had a problem with the hydro,” chuckled Johnson.

“The display has never made much of a difference when it comes to that.”

Though she and the family plan on maintaining the display for years to come, Johnson says she’s told Andrew it’s time to stop purchasing the miniature homes.

Well, maybe.

“I don’t know if that’s the case just yet, but who knows. We’ll see.”