christmas in the heart

The W.T. Ellis quote in my photo above is one of my favorite Christmas quotes. I love Christmas. Everyone who knows me knows I love Christmas.

Decorating the house for the holidays and having friends and family in throughout the season is just one of the nicer things you can do I think. It doesn’t have to be fancy, everyone doesn’t have to be dressed up all the time, it’s the act of being together.

This past Friday evening I hosted a ladies’ open house and a friend brought her trunk show to town from New England. A lot of friends old and new, and a couple of friend surprises including a friend I had not seen in a few years. We live enough distance apart and the past few years have been busy enough that time just went by. It was so amazing to see her and made it really feel like the Christmas season was beginning.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country radio stations are removing beloved Christmas songs from radio playlists. Yes seriously. Star 102 in Cleveland has removed “Baby it’s Cold Outside” because of the #metoo movement.

Yes, for real. This song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser for his wife for the two of them to sing together. As a duet. It is NOT the Sugar Plum Fairy date rape anthem. The song was also in the 1949 film “Neptune’s Daughter, which made it even more popular.

It’s ridiculous that this song is being targeted. It’s like everything old is new again and we are back to book burnings, except now they are Christmas song burnings. In 2015 there was an article in The National Review about potentially offensive Christmas song lyrics.

Come on people! It’s bad enough sometimes you don’t feel like you can say Merry Christmas that you must say Happy Holidays even if Christmas is the holiday you celebrate. And no, I am not getting into the whole “putting the Christ back in Christmas” argument because to me that’s like making someone accept your religious beliefs at the expense of their own.

What I’m saying is can’t we just enjoy the Christmas season without some sort of controversy every single year?

Christmas is a magical time of year, but I accept it’s hard for a lot of people. But maybe the season would be less hard if we just took a step back and enjoyed it?

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas and holiday season.

chester county christmas memories: first stop gunkle mill in east whiteland

Circa 1976. Reader submitted photo.

Overnight I received an email from a friend:

I saw your post about Christmas. Sending you a converted slide (hence the poor quality) circa 1976. National Liberty Corp owned the Gunkle Mill in East Whiteland before it was donated to the township.

Arthur DeMoss opened up the small building adjacent to the Mill and created a manger scene. There were figures and real animals.  In this photo, you can see a critter (goat, ram??) in the foreground, but there were  bigger animals too. I remember a donkey who would come to the fence hoping you had food.

I think it lasted 5 or so years in the 1970s. Once we went over at midnight on Christmas Eve and it was snowing–it was magical.

Maybe others remember it too. And maybe they will have a better photo!

I think this is so cool and this is the first person to respond to the post I posted recently about my Christmas blogging idea.

It’s not complicated. In a time where so much of the day today world can be so ugly, I thought maybe we would throw back to holidays past in Chester County.

I have not lived here in Chester County long enough to know about all the celebrations continue today or are purely from the past. Parades, festivals, things that speak of the season and community.

So if you have memories of Christmas past and photos you would like to share. Please contact this blog via the blog’s Facebook page. Please tell me about the photos you’re sending and how you would like them attributed. I can attribute them simply “reader submitted” or put an entire name and so on. If you are sending things in for celebrations that still continue today and it something that requires public participation and donations, tell me who it is they are supposed to contact and when the event will occur.

And for those who love the historic mill, I do have a whole bunch of photos still to go through from Chester County Day which I promise I will post.

christmas blogging idea – need reader participation

I can only do this if you my readers participate. I have this idea of once December rolls around to feature our ghosts of Christmas past in Chester County and the upper Main Line. Not in a creepy way, but in a nice celebratory way. My idea is to create not just one post about this, but to be able to create several posts throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas.

I have not lived here in Chester County long enough to know about all the celebrations continue today or are purely from the past. Parades, festivals, things that speak of the season and community.

So if you have memories of Christmas past and photos you would like to share. Please contact this blog via the blog’s Facebook page. Please tell me about the photos you’re sending and how you would like them attributed. I can attribute them simply “reader submitted” or put an entire name and so on. If you are sending things in for celebrations that still continue today and it something that requires public participation and donations, tell me who it is they are supposed to contact and when the event will occur.

Thanks!

kicking off the holiday season life’s patina style

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I love Christmas and was so excited when my friend Amy suggested we attend the Holiday Tea at Life’s Patina on Willowbrook Farm in Malvern.  The tea was today and it was an amazing event! (In all fairness, EVERY Life’s Patina event is amazing!)

Mind you, my day did not have an auspicious start as I locked myself out of the house accidentally this morning dealing with pets.  Not only did I lock myself out, but I was in my nightgown with wet hair.  I had to march myself across the road to my neighbor’s to call my husband to get back into the house.  (Have I mentioned I have awesome neighbors? I do! I am sure the sight of me in my nightgown has scarred them for life, but anyway.)

So after the trauma of locking myself out of our house in my nightgown, I managed to be ready in time to go to the tea.

I love the Life’s Patina events!  The proprietress, Meg Veno, is an amazing woman.  She has the biggest heart, is just so darn nice, and has an eye that gets me into trouble every time I attend a barn sale.  Seriously, the woman has an amazing design aesthetic and is super creative and finds the perfect things.  Her holiday events are among my favorites because, well, it’s no secret I love Christmas!

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This morning when we walked into the holiday preview tea, it was sensory overload.  The holidays were beautifully spilling out of every nook and cranny of the barn.  This was a lovely and exclusive event complete with a delicious luncheon for all of us who subscribed.  I especially liked the Quiche and the little smoked salmon sandwiches and the peach tea.

It was like a little bit of holiday magic in that barn today. People were happy. Holidays are festive times for friends and family, and this was a very nice reminder of times to come.

Another component to today was the charity Meg chose to receive a portion of the sales.  She pays it forward in that way with her events.

Today’s charity recipient was the Women’s Resource Center of Wayne, PA. This non-profit has the mission to help women and girls  successfully navigate life’s transitions and to inspire others to do the same.  By providing resources, tools and support for today, we create hope for tomorrow. The Women’s Resource Center serves Southeastern, PA including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Bucks, and Delaware counties.

Founded in 1975, the Women’s Resource Center began when five women placed an ad in The Suburban and Wayne Times calling for a meeting on women’s issues. Forty-five women attended the initial meeting, indicating a strong demand for an organization that was dedicated to the special needs of women. The original group established three goals that remain in place to this day:

1) To provide information and referral services to women & families;
2) To offer supportive programming and workshops; and
3) To maintain a physical location from which to serve the greater Philadelphia community.

This is a very worthy non-profit and I was happy to do my part and purchase some really fun things for the holidays.  I will admit I bought some Christmas ornaments and the world’s funniest holiday cocktail napkins.

Also today was the unexpected surprise of running into old, familiar faces at the tea and shopping preview.  I saw someone I basically had not seen in over five years.  We were friends in another lifetime.  It was nice to catch-up and meet her new friends.

I was truthfully amused by all of the Main Liners and city dwellers who made it out “to the country” to attend this preview.  I hope they all saw and appreciated the fall splendor of Chester County today.

Willowbrook Farm is an absolutely magical property with majestic trees donned at present in fiery reds, oranges, and spectacular yellow.  They have a huge Ginko tree which is captivating this time of year.  You just do not see many Ginkos anymore and the only other ones of similar height and majesty are on the path leading to the Haverford College Nature Trail that runs behind the one side of Haverford Friends School.

You too can see the magic in store this season at Life’s Patina.  There are holiday events coming up! Christmas magic doesn’t even begin to describe what is coming up.

Holiday Barn Sale – New Dates (postponed because of flooded fields)

November 16 – November 18 FREE ADMISSION! 10 AM – 4 PM

German Christmas Market at Life’s Patina

December 8 – December 9 FREE ADMISSION but asking for donations to  MainLineFreunde and T&E Care  3 PM – 6 PM  (Follow German Christmas Market on The Main Line HERE on Facebook.)

Willowbrook Farm and Life’s Patina are located at 1750 N. Valley Rd
Malvern, 19355 BUT this is a private residence, NOT a store so you can’t just show up.  The fabulous dairy barn full of magic is only opened to the public for special events.  Feel free to follow them on Facebook .

Here is a sampling of the Christmas magic I found today at Life’s Patina which also included discovering Stony Hill Farm out of Pottstown:

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deconstructing christmas

“Oh goody! Let’s put away all of the Christmas decorations immediately!” SAID NO ONE EVER.

Sad but true. I love Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas. But taking it all down is a real chore. And usually it falls on one person and in my house that’s me.

So….since I pretty much got the flu a couple of days after Christmas, and have been sick since, getting Christmas squared away and back into all of the containers is not happening quickly.

I remember when I was a kid, my parents used to spend weeks pointing fingers as to who was putting what away when. As a result, one year the Christmas tree was still up at Valentine’s Day. And it was a fresh cut tree so by Valentine’s Day it was dry and brittle and a fire hazard waiting for Miss Havisham’s living room (that’s a literary reference to a Charles Dickens’ character in Great Expectations for those unfamiliar.)

I try to be systematic about putting things away and usually all my ornaments and decorations stay up through Epiphany.

Epiphany falls 12 days after Christmas, or January 6th this year. Also known as 12th night it is the end of the Christmas season. Now I could stretch it out to Eastern Orthodox or Russian Christmas but when New Year’s Day rolls around I am generally ready to deconstruct Christmas as all eyes from the Nutcrackers, elves, and Santas seem to stare off their various bookshelves and tables.

As far as storage goes, I have graduated to plastic tubs of various sizes at this point. My parents used to keep all the decorations in giant cardboard boxes, and I did that for years until I realized how much easier it was to be able to see things. Also, because a lot of my ornaments are vintage, I prefer sturdier containers for storage.

Every year I start with good intentions of making everything super organized so I will never forget where anything is. And every Christmas that follows I still can’t remember where everything is!

I have collected a lot of ornaments over the years, so this is the time of year where I also periodically evaluate things that I am not using to free up storage space. This year, the things that are going to go away are the vintage metal ornament trees. They are wonderful for displaying ornaments, but I have ultimately decided I prefer little tabletop feather trees if I am going to display ornaments on smaller trees.

I have found over the years that the easiest way to deconstruct and clean up from Christmas is to do it a little bit at a time. So day by day something else gets put away until it’s all put away.

Before I go I am going to share one last photo. It’s a little VW bug and a Christmas tree Christmas ornament. It is my new favorite ornament and it came from the Christmas open house for Life’s Patina at Willowbrook Farm. Meg buys the best ornaments!

Thanks for stopping by.