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Garfield Ridge Family Makes Holiday Village

Even the Grinch would get into the holiday spirit after seeing how Garfield Ridge residents Bob and Pat Soltis decorate practically every room of their house for Christmas.

While the outside of their home in the 5600 block of Massasoit Avenue is nicely decorated too, it is the inside where most of the action is.

Pat Soltis said she has been collecting the miniature villages produced by Department 56 and similar companies since 1987, and every Christmas her collection has grown. {{more}}

ÒThey were coming out with new things all the time and I liked collecting them. I was working, and I just enjoyed it.”

ÒI don’t add too much to it now because we just don’t have the space,” she said.

Sadly, the couple felt the need to scale back on their displays this year due to illness in the family. Their son, Bobby, 48, is battling brain cancer, and is being cared for at home.

ÒWith all the doctors and nurses coming in and out of the house, we thought the living room would be too cluttered if everything was up and there would be no room to maneuver,” said Pat.

ÒI thought about not even decorating,” she added, but noted that Bobby wanted the tradition to continue and would have felt bad if the villages didn’t go up.

So now, rather than two large displays in the living room, there is only one. But what a one it is.

Rising up more than six feet, on three tiers of shelving built by Bob, the North Pole collection includes seemingly all sorts of little attractions.

Many are brightly lit and have moving parts. There are elves on moving trains, as well as festive dancers in among the miniature toy shops, gumdrop trees and intricately decorated buildings surrounded by realistic snowscapes.

The retired couple has lived in Garfield Ridge since 1966, raising five children, including Bobby, Jackie, Anne and Jimmy, and the late John. They have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and everyone looks forward to seeing the Christmas-themed villages that also include a New England village complete with skiiers and a Dickens village on the kitchen window ledges.

Like the villages themselves, everywhere you look in the house is something different, and if you don’t look closely, you are liable to miss something.

Bob retired after more than 30 years with the Department of Streets and Sanitation, and Pat keeps busy as a Eucharist minister and visiting the sick in St. Symphorosa Parish.

Bob Kargol, a neighbor and friend who stopped by on Monday, had high praise for the couple.

ÒThey are the rock of this block. It is fantastic what they do for everyone,” he said.

Asked to get in a photo with Pat near one of the displays, Bob declined politely. ÒIt’s your thing,” he told his wife, although he willingly pitches in to set everything up.

Putting up the displays is a family affair, with everyone coming over and pitching in, carrying all the delicate figures out of the attic.

ÒIt can take two or two and half weeks to put everything up,” said Pat, noting that she changes the layout every year, so visitors are always noticing something new.

With the grandchildren and now great-grandchildren coming along, the couple is adding to the traditions too.

ÒThe little kids look forward to the real gumdrops that appear under the gumdrop tree every Christmas Eve, and real candy canes too,” she said,

While the couple is not looking too far ahead this year, the displays usually stay up for their annual Super Bowl party, and through February.

Smaller displays go up for Easter and other holidays too.

ÒI don’t mind putting them up but I don’t like taking them down, because that means another year is over,” said Pat.

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