Saturday was a great day—and I went to bed last night feeling the fullness of thanks, of community, of caring and being cared for—and it was everything that the holiday spirit is about. And it was awesome.
The Melone House was sparkling (well, maybe not sparkling, but it looked pretty darn good, both inside and out!) Land’s Sake staffers had spent a lot of time over the last several weeks burning brush piles, making dump runs, tidying, organizing, moving furniture, vacuuming, and scrubbing – all in preparation for our Holiday Open House and Tree/Wreath Sale. Some of us spent a fair amount of time cooking, and one of us spent a lot of time making wreaths! And all of us had a great time. The house looked great, smelled great (soup and mulling cider on the stove) and was toasty warm on a perfect bright-but-chilly December day.
This year’s event was particularly special for a number of reasons. First of all, it was the first time we’ve had a chance to show off the newly renovated Melone House—what a difference! Secondly, we weren’t able to hold this annual event last year, due to the aforementioned renovations—and we as a staff missed it, and missed seeing the excitement of a newly chosen Christmas tree in the faces of our friends and their children. So it was especially nice to reconnect in that way with folks about whom we’ve grown to care deeply, and who care deeply about us.
It was also special because of new friends and new connections:
Hilary Crowell can be described as a can-do, capable and enthusiastic young farmer. She demonstrated her handwork skills this summer with gorgeous onion braids that were sold at the farmstand, and when we began thinking about wreaths this Fall, she jumped on the bandwagon with both feet. I introduced her electronically (isn’t e-mail great for that sort of thing?) to Nea Glenn, of the Weston Garden Club, who graciously gave her a private lesson in wreath-making. Thank you, Nea! Next thing you know, Hilary is a wreath-maker extraordinaire, and banging out wreaths like there’s no tomorrow. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I think I got as big a kick out of the fun Hilary was having as from the wreaths themselves.
We invited our Weston neighbor and collaborator Afton Cotton, proprietor of Pigeon Hill Preserves, to join us yesterday to sell her wonderful preserves and gift baskets, some of which feature our very own strawberries. Afton taught some awesome canning and preserving workshops for us this year, and the publicity generated by her new business and the workshops has benefitted both parties. We are always delighted to be able to interface with like-minded individuals and organizations, especially fledgling ones.
I often serve as greeter/gatekeeper at our Land’s Sake events, and in that capacity I usually get a chance to say a brief hello to most everyone who attends. But that is generally against the backdrop of large crowds, high anxiety (okay, I admit it!) and having to concentrate on taking money and making change. What I particularly like about our Christmas Tree day is that it affords the opportunity to visit with our friends in a quiet, relaxed way without the fracas of lines and crowds and hustle-bustle. And in some ways it feels like a gift that we give people: the drive up our long driveway almost demands that we disconnect from the holiday rush, take a deep breath, and draw respite from the simple act of walking in the woods to select a holiday tree and taking it home, like the treasure that it is.
In the shortest, darkest days of the year, it seems especially appropriate to give thanks for and to our new friends, our old friends and our supporters—without whom Land’s Sake could not and would not exist—and to my colleagues, in particular the farmers, whose toil and strength combine to bestow upon us the bounty of the earth and the fruits of their labors. I am humbled and awed by them and so grateful to them and to Mother Earth for a great season.