Saturday, December 3, 2011

parades down main street

Last night was Christmas in Cambridge, a community event that included a parade, tree-lighting ceremony, livestock, and a public reading of The Night Before Christmas, and it was lovely. I spent most of it down at Battenkill Books, enjoying their coffee and the packed bookstore with community guests looking to start their gift-collecting and get out from the cold. Donkeys, children in oxen and alligator costumes, fire trucks, and floats drove down Main Street. I was outside the bookstore with Connie, Jon, Maria, Lenore, and a smattering of locals just getting a kick out of the small celebration.

The sheep at my farm got to celebrate with the installation of a new submersible stock tank deicer. As it turns out, sheep are much more excited about fresh, unfrozen, water than they are about parades. It was an easy thing to assemble and hook up. Jasper has a blue plug-in bucket of sorts. The rabbits and pigs get a hammer to decrack the ice or water bottles brought near the woodstove. We all get through the cold, by and by.

No snow here yet, well, save for that fluke in October. I can't wait for snow. The new chimney is now 100% ready for winter with a brand-new cricket installed Thursday to deal with heavy snow falling off the old slate roof. The woodpiles are covered (or covered with a brown tarp). The shovel is ready. The sheep have been wearing sweaters since August and Jasper has grown quite a wooly exterior. This farm wants some snow to cover up the ice, mud, and grime and turn this place into a gut-wrenchingly adorable Thomas Kincade Christmas Cottage. Hell yeah.

Earlier that day, I picked up a small tree and set it in my front window. I started decorating it with silver bulbs and an antler on top (my kind of star). I turned on a Celtic Christmas channel on Pandora and enjoyed the bodhrans, pipes, and fiddles to carols as I decorated, singing with Gibson (who stared at the tree, confused as to why a bathroom was brought indoors and crowned with a perfectly good chew toy?). This is only my second tree as an adult, as this is only my second Christmas spent away from my hometown. (The first was when I moved to Idaho in December and travel was too expensive.) It's bittersweet, spending the holidays here at the farm but I am really enjoying starting some traditions and decorating. This weekend feels like the Yuletide is upon us, and I am celebrating tonight with a dinner party I was invited to over in the next town. I guess it's the time of year for parties, bayberry candles, pines, wreaths, and the end of these short nights!

How do you celebrate the pre-season?


Blogger daisy said...

Sounds like a lovely evening. It's wonderful starting new traditions, isn't it?

One of the ways we start our holiday season is by making a countdown calendar. Just a little treat for my boy to help him pass the days until Santa arrives.

Enjoy your weekend!

December 3, 2011 at 6:43 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

I get one new ornament, or decoration a year. I also realize that another year has passed and reflect. I do a lot of reflecting ;) I have yet to get my tree, and I have to do a lot of cleaning. Then, ready set go!

December 3, 2011 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Waiting is good. I already have a nest of dropped pine needles!

December 3, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

We celebrate Advent - no tree until Christmas Eve. We do, however enjoy German goodies and sing Christmas songs every Sunday in Advent and light our wreath. My kids, now all teenagers, are still silly excited about all this - :)

December 3, 2011 at 7:09 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

do any of you german families hide a pickle in there? Or up here in Saratoga area there are the famous Peppermint Pigs! I will get one soon, I hope!

December 3, 2011 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Hi Jenna,
Your tree looks great. We hide a glass pickle ornament on our Christmas tree and the one who finds it gets a special treat. We started a fun (albeit slightly weird) tradition when our two sons were small where we get Chinese takeout on Christmas eve when we decorate the tree. Sounds strange but it's fun for us and my boys look forward to it.

December 3, 2011 at 7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My birthday's right at the beginning of December, so I have some sort of celebration then, which also usually coincides with the end of the university term in Canada. My Advent preparations usually involve finding excuses to bake things. Mince pies. But I started in October with Christmas puddings for my extended family, keeping up a tradition my late grandmother did for fifty years -- I didn't want to lose the tradition or the puddings, so I decided to make them! It involves all my aunts (and friends) sending their basins to me, me making the puddings, and sending them back to mature for Christmas.

December 3, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I don't put up a tree - I have six cats and they would climb it and knock it over (guess how I know that), and use the ornaments as toys. I put water tank heaters in for the goats, sheep and llamas, and set up heated dog dishes for water for the chickens. The snowblower is set up next to the door. This year, I put up a plastic-covered hoop house over the kale, in hopes of having fresh greens into the winter. I bought myself a new high-efficiency woodstove as an early Christmas present, and plan to spend Christmas Day parked on the couch next to it, reading Barnheart!

December 3, 2011 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

We used to have family traditions, even though all us kids are grown. This year, they've sort of broken apart. My sister had her first child two months ago, I'm expecting my first, my father and stepmother are separating, my youngest sister is away at college and my mom just moved to Santa Barbara two weeks ago. This Christmas will likely go down as the strangest on record for us. It's okay, though. It's a clear signal to me that it's long past time for us "kids" to take up the mantle and start our own family traditions. Not sure yet how all that will shake out, but it's sort of exciting.

December 3, 2011 at 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pre-season for my family doesn't begin until the 24th. My procrastinations issues are genetic, apparently.

We always see a movie on Christmas eve, then go look at lights. Christmas eve dinner is always enchiladas (weird, given that we're German/Irish, but whatever), and we always open one present on Christmas eve.

I spent one Christmas away from home, and it was pretty miserable. I'm not ready to be that adult yet.

December 3, 2011 at 9:10 AM  
Blogger J.D. said...

My parents have been married for 64 years. This year their health has declined significantly where this might be their last Christmas. Gratitude is our theme this year for the gift of two lives lived and the presents of their presence have given.

The rosemary and sage garlands are drying in the pantry, the Norfolk pine dressed in splendor, and love filling the air.

The birds and squirrels always enjoy the seed mix in the feeders as well as the fresh water in the bath.

Simple. Very, very simple.

December 3, 2011 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger e.m.b. said...

I've celebrated by chopping and stacking wood off my own mountainside, enough for the woodstove through the winter. I've moved my writing desk out to the great room to be by said stove. ;) And I chopped down a small pine off my land and it now stands trimmed...and will be firewood for next year too. Firewood that warms me thrice! And, now I have over 2 ft. of snow on the ground. I love it!

December 3, 2011 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

I love the line about the bathroom being brought inside and topped with a chew toy. Way to write, Jenna!

December 3, 2011 at 11:47 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

I love your tree! We're heading out today to get a tiny one to set on my sewing table in the living room. Something to decorate simply, with sentimental ornaments and maybe some white lights to substitute for candles. Growing up Roman Catholic we always had large ornate Christmases with lots of family and food. Now that it's just our little family of 4 we're moving away from the consumerism of Christmas, and learning the traditions of Yule. Thank you for the idea of Celtic Christmas music. It'll be a nice change of pace, and a wonderful way to add to our new traditions, while honoring our Irish ancestery.

December 3, 2011 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today (12/3) we will have our Christmas parade and courthouse lighting in Prescott, Az. Here's some photos of our courthouse all lit up
This is a big event in our community. BTW it is snowing here in Arizona today … well in the high elevation areas anyway, we are at 5500 feet. Funny that there's snow in Az and not in upstate NY.

December 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

Love your tree’s “star”!

Music seems to be the main way I celebrate the preseason—that and reflection about the year that’s almost gone and the new one ahead. In the past ten years or so I’ve spent the big day celebrating with my sister whose 2 years younger than me either at my home or hers. Family has been in turmoil of sorts for years making holidays challenging—I understand where Tara’s coming from when it comes to making own traditions. I celebrated last year with the parents and my younger siblings after years of not and it was enjoyable, but also stressed. This year I’m going back to the tradition of sharing Christmas with my sister and her husband’s family even if it means flying, and am really looking forward to it.

December 3, 2011 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

I started new traditions recently when I moved away from my hometown. I love the idea of rooting where you are planted. There is something magical about having a Christmas tree. Your's looks great.

December 3, 2011 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger georgie said...

Making krumkake using Grandmother's stovetop krumkake iron. My beloved 14 year old dog will probably curl up in the kitchen and supervise, while the other dog and cat nap in another room.
The nativity set and santons are all set up. So many beloved family members are gone now, no big celebrations. Just time with Mom and dearest friends.

December 3, 2011 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Lyssa said...

I got the tree set up a few days ago...I'm planning to be away with family for the actual holidays, so I wanted to enjoy it here as long as I could. The ornaments are old friends.

Stockings are also a big deal here. They must be hung and must be filled with little goodies.

December 3, 2011 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

there's a CELTIC CHRISTMAS channel? here i was listening to indie holidays (aka hipster holidays) on pandora. an immediate change is in order. unfortunately our apartment only has room for a tiny potted tree, but i think it's about time we brought one of those suckers home and got in the spirit...

December 3, 2011 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger leafonatree said...

The antler is perfect.

December 3, 2011 at 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course you have an antler on top!

December 3, 2011 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Flartus said...

We've been in our house almost six years, and I'm delighted to already have our own traditions. We get our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving--I'm sure if we didn't make a point of it, we wouldn't get one 'til a few days beforehand.

My parents are usually with us at Thanksgiving, so they join us in choosing and decorating the tree, and decorating the living room. It's a nice way to develop our own traditions while keeping the generations in sync.

In the past, my partner has mixed up three or four kinds of cookie dough in early November, then frozen it for easy baking during the busy holiday season. But with two jobs and MBA classes, that hasn't happened this year. Hmm...maybe I should go find those recipes...

December 3, 2011 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Mountainchicken - I'm German/Irish too, and my preferred Christmas Eve meal is carnitas. ;)

December 3, 2011 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

I was so excited to get a special package in the mail today and find your book! I know now that I am completely infected with the "disease", it is nice to have a name to go with it! Thank you so much for inspiring all of us to dream big!

Blessing to you and your farm!

Renee at Tail Spin Farm

December 3, 2011 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Patrice Nelson said...

I got my first Christmas present to myself, your book in the mail. Keep up the good work and God bless you, your family and your farm, animals, too, of course.

December 3, 2011 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Katou said...

Usually, on December 1st, I start listening to Christmas music (my CD's or on Galaxie) and I put up some decorations here and there. It's been years since I have decorated a tree in the house. I don't feel like it any more.

Today, I made 3 batches of cookies and prepared the batter for doughnuts that I will cook tomorrow.

There will also be a couple of days of pies (meat and fruit pies) and tartlets baking soon.

And there will be some house cleaning between baking sessions.

I like preparing for Christmas, I find it is a special time, a time to reminisce about the past, a time to remember those that aren't here anymore to be with us. A time to review the year that is finishing and to hope for the best for the new one that is coming soon.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

December 3, 2011 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Allison: it's the celtic women christmas channel, which may seem, I don't know, tv informercialy, but it calls in so many great bands, check it out.

December 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger annet said...

I've got a couple of stashes of homemade/second-hand presents building up and all my cash shopping is done. Most of my baking is done too (mincement tarts (with homemade green tomato mincemeat) with a sour cream cookie crust -- long tradition in this house, a new recipe: cinnamon applesauce rolled cookies, cinnamon stars, bar cookies); I'm still looking forward to making chocolate gingerbread. We'll be doing our actual Christmas dinner with friends, for which I'm making soy milk-based egg nog, Christmas Spirit liquor, and bringing a bottle of my homemade Rhubarb Rose wine. Christmas for me now is tied up up giving from my hands and heart. Peace to you in yours!

December 4, 2011 at 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our pre-holiday prep actually starts in late October when our community band starts rehearsing Christmas music, but we really don't crank it up until after Thanksgiving. I try to round up my daughters and daughters-in-law for a baking session in early December, and we try to get to our local zoo for the beautiful light display. My husband and I usually go out two weeks before Christmas to cut our tree.......nothing more wonderful than the smell of pine filling the house. The tree itself has to have a space in it for the bird and its nest that we have put in the tree for more than 20 years......the time when one of the kids discovered a tiny bird's nest in our tree. It's become a beloved tradition, and they all look for it every year. The tree is decorated with shaped glass ornaments passed down from my late dad, and since my husband and I both have German ancestors, there is indeed a pickle.

December 5, 2011 at 12:10 PM  

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