I feel lighter this Christmas. Not because I’ve honored past new year’s resolutions pledging weight loss. No, this year shedding things, not weight, helps me celebrate the season.

The clutter in my garage is reduced. The last of my beloved Christmas blow molds are finally gone. I quickly sold them through Facebook Marketplace and they’ll be displayed and appreciated once again.

Danielle Gould of Hartland scooped them up. She helped me get closer to realizing a personal goal: parking my car in the garage for the first time. It’s a gift I gave myself. One that gives throughout the year!

I’ve enjoyed the blow mold collection since paying the bargain rate of about $30 for a dozen of them at a garage sale in Ogden, Iowa. There were three Santas, reindeer, a snowman, six tall Noel candlesticks, and carolers inspired by Charles Dickens’ holiday classic “A Christmas Carol.” I’ve displayed, dusted and carefully stored the cumbersome decorations at homes, garages and storage units while living in Colorado, Iowa and Maine.

Danielle Gould of Hartland loads Christmas blow molds into her SUV in Waterville earlier this month. She purchased the items to add to a display that includes more than 70 lighted blow molds. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Gould paid cash and loaded the 4-foot-tall Santa and trio of Dickens’ carolers into her SUV. She had been looking for the carolers.

“I’ve never seen them before so I wanted them really bad,” Gould said.

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The Santa was just a bonus. The figures were added to a Christmas display at her home that features 75 lighted blow molds.

She found a Mrs. Claus to place next to my old Santa while the carolers stand together and face the road with other decorations.

Blow molds have been around since the 1960s. Manufacturers include Empire Plastics, General Foam Plastics and Poloron. They’re made when melted plastic is blown into a mold. The mold is then painted and often lit with a small light bulb. The old ones have faded colors and character that make them desirable to Gould and other die-hard collectors.

Her display includes four Mrs. Claus figures, six Santas, reindeer-drawn sleighs, a trio of nativity scenes, toy soldiers and a penguin. The only modern piece is a Grinch that was recently acquired. The lighted figures stretch across her yard, each one facing the road.

The collection was sparked when Gould received her first decoration, a special Santa blow mold that belonged to her grandmother, Beverly Elliott of Canaan. The mold depicts Santa holding a floor-length list in one hand while the other hand is held to his head.

Maurice Gould replaces a light bulb in a Santa Claus blow mold Wednesday while assisting his wife, Danielle, in maintaining a 75-piece blow mold display at their home in Hartland. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Gould said she saw the Santa in her grandmother’s house as it was being cleaned out following her death in 2002. The item was the only thing Gould wanted before the house was torn down.

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With a black marker Elliott had added the names of Gould, her four siblings and three cousins to the list Santa held. Gould remembers her name being at the top because she’s the oldest. Over the years the names have worn off.

Gould and her husband, Maurice, start on the display in October. “We just work on it when it’s nice out,” she said.

“I always check everything to make sure it works before I put it out,” Gould explained. “It doesn’t go out unless it works.”

She inspects the display while pulling into her driveway after work and notices when the wind has blown anything out of place. The pieces are held with rebar and wooden stakes. The lights are attached to a timer and come on automatically.

“The power bill goes up about $200 but it’s worth it,” she said. “It’s only for a month and I don’t mind. I love Christmas. I hope it brings joy to other people.”

Her husband “is a big help,” she said, and after the collection outgrew a storage shed, he built high shelves in their garage to store the balance of the collection.

“I just want to make people happy,” she explained. “I want them to enjoy going by. I want them to slow down and say, ‘Oh look at that, look at those lights, aren’t those pretty?’ That’s all I care about. I just want people to enjoy them as much as I do.”

Rich Abrahamson is a photojournalist with the Morning Sentinel.


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