Down East 2013 ©
Our family has a very Maine-based tradition of playing a game of Uncle Henry’s Price is Right. Each player reads a description of any item from an Uncle Henry’s book and the other players guess the price. The closest price (without going over) wins a fabulous prize: items collected from our junk drawers!
Prelude weekend in Kennebunkport. We begin the festivities with the tree lighting and sing carols and then enjoy dinner together at our friend’s home. The weekend continues on Saturday visiting all the various fairs and shops, as well as enjoying the parade down the river.
Barrington, Rhode Island
Gathering lobsters in the summer to be picked out, freezing them until December, and then making lobster stew on Christmas Eve for all the family.
New Port Richey, Florida
Going into the woods to cut down the Christmas trees, of course! My dad would scope out a couple during hunting season and we (Mom, Dad, me, and my two sisters) would go back with an axe, saw, and sled to cut them down. Some years the snow was so deep we had to cross-country ski in. We always cut one for Nana, too, so getting two big pines out of the snowy North Woods was always a challenge. We would earn our hot chocolate on those days.
Going to the WW&F Railway Museum in Alna for its Victorian Christmas Day. We take a train ride on a narrow gauge railroad, get a picture with Santa, have a horse and wagon ride, and warm up by the bonfire. All the free spirit of the volunteers on that day and absence of commercialism make it our family’s favorite holiday tradition.
Chester Greenwood Day in Farmington (the first Saturday in December). I love everyone putting on earmuffs for the occasion, the parade with pets and snowplows, and the Polar Bear Dip in Clearwater Lake. It’s all linked to the season, yet uniquely Franklin County. Great fun!
Mount Vernon, Maine
The Carols and Candles service at the old West Bath Meetinghouse. The carols of several centuries waft through the air, ancient non-electric light fixtures gently break the dark of winter, and if you sit too close to the wood stove raging in the center of the sanctuary, the warmth may put you to sleep!
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The Moment: I was on a back road not far from Fieldstone Gardens in Vassalboro on a late fall morning. I caught a glimpse of vapor rising and a rough wooden post fence outlining an orchard and meadow. The overnight snow was being transformed by the rising warmth of the morning sun. In rural Maine, the seasonal changes are sometimes magical transformations done with a flair for the dramatic.