Best Christmas: Doll mansion is father's magical labor of love

1963 was an eventful year. The Beatles released their first album; Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his powerful "I have a Dream" speech; the Vietnam War continued; and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. But for an 8-year-old girl in Provo, the greatest event of 1963 would be Christmas.

It all began in the middle of October when my father started spending a great deal of time outside in his shed. It was an old, dimly lit, cold wooden shed filled with currently unused but "sure to be needed in the future" items.

As a young girl, I was convinced that every variety of spider known to man lived in the vast cobwebs covering each corner and small, four-legged creatures must certainly call the rafters home. But to dad, the shed was his little piece of heaven on earth. He loved tinkering on various projects year-round.

So, at first the time he spent in the shed mid-October went virtually unnoticed. However, as December approached, he had established a nightly ritual. Immediately following dinner, Dad would put on his warmest but well-worn coat, wrap a scarf around his neck and depart for the shed.

Hours later, covered with sawdust, he would return. I just couldn't fathom what could possibly be so important that Dad would be willing to spend hour after hour in that ridiculously cold, dingy shed.

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