Merry Couchmas: Jordan’s Furniture Enchanted Village

December 14, 2014 — Christmas villages are the haunted attractions of Christmas, a way for adults to interact with a holiday throughout the month and outside its signature child-centered event (trick-or-treating and Christmas morning, respectively). When done right, these holiday displays transport you deep into a Christmas world full of snow and lights and carolers and gas-lamps. You wander around Christmas-the-Way-You-Want-It-To-Be for a bit and then you exit back into the terrible light of reality and your half-finished gift shopping list and drab weather and complicated family plans.

I like ’em.

Heck, yesterday I went to a furniture store to see one.

But now just any furniture store. A Jordan’s Furniture store. I’ve already regaled you with the wonders of this bigger-than-living-room chain of New England shops. How they want to sell you spectacle with their settees, fireworks with their futons, marvel with their mattresses. And not in a cheesy, salesy way. These cats go all out. I’ll paraphrase the same thing I said in the Natick Jordan’s article: I’ve never bought a stick of furniture from them, but I’ve given them a lot of money.

Jordan’s Avon location, just south of Boston, is known for throwing a killer Christmas party.

We arrived about ten minutes after opening time, racing against strollers and people in their red and green Christmas best toward the back warehouse where they keep their clearance furniture. There we found an extremely long line wrapping around itself like a string of Christmas lights about to get all tangly. So crowds are an issue. Especially on weekends. There’s no way around that, so if you’re the type to Scroogify over mass-merriment, prepare to be haunted when you go to bed. While in line, we were entertained by TVs playing Frozen while an employee in an inflatable snowman costume gave awkward high-fives to passersby.

And, then, about 30 minutes later, we were in Jordan’s Enchanted Village.

All the elements of perfect Christmas ambience were there: the lights, the garland, the cottony snow, the scarfs and mittens, the plates of cookies, the shimmering trees, and the shiny presents. Every once in a while snow machines would start up and blow soft, sudsy flakes down on us, reminding us that they’re the greatest Christmas inventions since blow molds.

Interestingly, the scenes in this village were all populated almost solely by children, animatronic, life-sized children, running shops and trimming trees and delivering Christmas parcels with the slow repetitiveness of their internal servos. But what was immediately apparent was that there was no pandering to modern sensibility in this village. No Rankin/Bass characters, no Santas with Coca-Colas. Not a registered trademark as far as the eye could see. As much as I love that stuff, it was kind of a relief, honestly.

And that’s because this Enchanted Village has a pedigree.

It was created in the 1960s for the holiday trimming of a now-defunct Boston department store called Jordan Marsh (no relation). After about a decade of trying to out-Macy Macy’s, they shuttered the village in 1972, keeping it closed until 1990, when they started up the tradition again. Another decade later, and the chain was bought and dissolved by Macy’s itself. Since Macy’s had enough Christmas PR, the Enchanted Village was sold to the city of Boston for civic displays in 1998. By 2003, Boston had to cut back on the holiday budget, and stopped using the display. It was eventually put up for auction, where it was bought by Jordan’s Furniture. Since 2009, it’s been an Avon Christmas tradition, making Santa cheerfully circle the name of that town on that list he checks twice.

Speaking of Santa, he was next on our itinerary, the time-tested tradition of letting our kids sit on a stranger’s lap and then afterwards being forced into the discussion about whether he was the real Santa or not. This time, we didn’t even need to have that discussion. He was great. Great costume, great attitude, real beard, and great children’s skills. I mean, look at this photo he pulled off. Keep in mind, my infant had been fussing in line for the past ten minutes and my older had been using that time to plot all manner of ways of embarrassing us. But that dude’s lap was magic. Don’t quote me on that.

Other activities included a 4D showing of The Polar Express in their Motion Odyssey Movie (MOM) theater, a holiday light show, and a small ice skating rink with artificial ice. My ankles still ache.

Oh, and the ceiling of the theater foyer was covered with ghosts. And while Christmas and ghosts go together like moose mugs and egg nog, these guys looked permanent and not at all part of the holiday decor. I posted more photos of them here because otherwise they’ll derail this Christmas post.

Getting back to that, what should be a bland furniture store is transformed by magic into a reason to do something with your Saturday. I mean, that’s what the season’s all about right? Transforming boring stuff with magic.

Yeah. That’s Christmas.