Describe your Christmas tree to me. Tell me all. Does it just brush the ceiling with its highest bough? Or is it small and centered on a tabletop? Does it bear colored lights with lots of tinsel or white lights with a carefully chosen selection of ornaments?
We do not have a tree in our living room yet. My children were given a choice — to purchase a lovely artificial tree that could stay up for a month or a fresh-cut or live tree that could stay in the house for only a couple of days. The big problem lies with their mother (yes, that would be me). Their mother wheezes and sneezes after a few hours of a real tree's entrance into our home. Their mother is willing to suffer with itchy watery eyes and a few extra puffs on her inhaler for three days only. After that it is hasta la vista to that balsam fir.
Much to the mother's dismay, said children will have nothing to do with the artificial tree. They would rather wrestle up a leftover Charlie Brown tree on Christmas Eve. Apparently, this has become our tradition. It will be decorated half in white lights and half in multi-color because my family is split right down the middle on what looks best. It will be adorned with a plethora of ornaments ranging from ones I have had since I was a small child to ones made by my children in recent years. No matter what it looks like it, will be beautiful in my eyes because we decorated it together, as a family, and we will listen to loud Christmas music while we do it.
This past weekend we took part in yet another holiday tradition. We made our annual pilgrimage to the North Pole via the Polar Express which departed promptly from Hobo Railroad Station in Lincoln, N.H. It was a slightly smaller crowd this year that made the journey, but we saw Santa dole out the first gift of Christmas to a little boy in a blue bathrobe. There wasn't any snow in Lincoln this year, so we searched for an alternative to sledding. We stumbled upon a place called The Rocks in the little town of Bethlehem (yes, seasonally appropriate).
Home to the North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the 1,400-acre property was the summer home to the Glessner family. John purchased the farm in 1882 and it was enjoyed by many family members until it was donated to the Forest Society in 1978. The property is still farmed today and their crop is Christmas trees. You can cut your own, purchase one already harvested, or have one mailed to you. They offer sleigh rides, walking trails and a well-supplied seasonally appropriate gift shop. I, for one, really enjoyed my visit. We may go back in the spring to check out their maple tour and experience their syrup made on site.
The Chilmark School children along with a group of family and friends enjoyed an afternoon of caroling around the center of town. Tried and true favorites like "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," "Winter Wonderland," and the "Twelve Days of Christmas" were belted out over hot chocolate and a few tasty cookies.
The Chilmark Community Church has been decorated in preparation for Christmas and the Christmas Eve service. Friends, family and neighbors, are invited to attend a candlelight service of lessons and carols on Christmas eve at 5:30 pm. There will also be a service Sunday, Dec. 25, at 9 am.
Last night Santa made his annual visit to see the Chilmark kids. He was transported by fire truck courtesy of the Chilmark Volunteer Firefighter's Association since his herd of reindeer are resting up for their big weekend journey. He belted out a whole bunch of jolly ho-ho-hos and dished out some really fun gifts to our youngest town residents.
Many thanks to The Ruimerman/Weidner family for seeing that Santa's invitations went out in timely fashion. Many thanks to Warren Doty for playing a pivotal role in the success of the evening. Big thanks to all the folks that brought along tasty treats to line the tables. And most of all, a heartfelt thank-you goes out the members of the Chilmark Fire Department for continuing on with a tradition that has been a key part of making our town the tight-knit community that it is. Over half a century and going strong. Your sense of community and timeless tradition is most appreciated.
May your holiday be fun, festive, and full of life and love.
I heard the bells, on Christmas Day,
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow