Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Spirit

Friday night my in-laws invited us to share in a Christmas adventure.  The first weekend in December a little town about 45 minutes away hosts a Christmas Market.  Although we didn't actually go to the market part. We started with dinner in this little red barn. Dinner was followed by a tour of the Anderson Mansion.

The inside of the barn wasn't exactly what I expected.  Apparently, they have a couple festivals each year and the barn is equipped for serving meals. There were only 4 or 5 tables, so it was pretty cozy.
The cutest in-laws ever

I invited my friend Amy to be my date since my husband was working -- and probably wouldn't have enjoyed the evening as much as we did :)

Dinner was very casual.  When you walked in the barn there was a table with crock pots and roasters.  You could choose from a couple of entrees.  I picked the chicken and noodles. It was a tasty choice for a cool rainy night. Not pictured is the raisin pie I shared with my father-in-law.

After we ate we toured the Anderson Mansion that was completely decked out for Christmas.  I took the description from the Chamber of Commerce website.

In 1883, the original residence, built by John Anderson, was a one-story structure, but as the Anderson family grew, so did the house. The second story, the attic and tower were added in 1892. Several special features set the 13-room house apart from other homes of that time period: two large double-columned porches, two elaborate bay windows, eight fireplaces, a large stained glass window purchased at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and unique folding window shutters. Throughout the house, beautifully restored solid oak staircases, woodwork and pocket doors illustrate the craftsmanship of that era.

I loved the arched doorways and all the decorative wood work.

There were several Christmas trees throughout the house.  I particularly liked this tree decorated with white and silver.

The kitchen was decorated with cinnamon ornaments and gingerbread cookies. We enjoyed checking out all the old kitchen accessories. The pantry was full of vintage (antique) food packages.
The house was full of donated items from the time period the house had been occupied. We could have spent significantly more time exploring all the treasures. I wish I knew in which year these appliances were considered modern :)

I picked Her Lord and Master off the shelf and turned to a random page. It is interesting how much the meaning of words can change over time. I would be curious to read the whole book to see if it was intended to be as spicy as the modern use of words may have indicated.
There was quite a bit of armed services memorabilia - uniforms, medals, etc. I was a little creeped out by this war propaganda poster.
There was a mini Christmas tree decorated in poppies.  Every time I see poppies I think of the poem "In Flanders Fields."  Our class memorized it in 7th or 8th grade for Remembrance Day. I still know most of it and it always chokes me up a little.

This Christmas tree brought out a whole different emotion.  One I still can't quite identify :) There is a small part of me that thinks I might need it.

After we toured the mansion we headed over to a new building where they had handmade items for sale. I wanted to call them crafts, but they are more works of art. I thought these lights were very clever.

I am obsessed with Christmas ornaments.  This little birds are made from gourds. I found their gigantic beaks a little comical.
Speaking of comical birds... I love the eyes on the pottery chicken to the left.
The evening was a simple and relaxing. I will be honest, it is hard for me to get in the Christmas mood this year.  I am trying to put on my happy face, but inside my heart is still overwhelmed. I especially appreciated this event because it was so simple and relaxed.

Our family is of Dutch decent and we have celebrated St. Nicholas day since we were kids. We have carried the tradition on as adults with our own families. "St. Nick" must have done a little last minute shopping at the mansion because I got a perfect little crocheted Christmas mouse ornament that I remember seeing the night before :)  My husband will be adding to his Star Wars ornament collecting with a sparkly Yoda.

What small traditions do you have that calm you in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season?


  1. Aww glad you had a nice time with your in-laws and friend! That place looks so awesome! Reminds me a little of the plantations here but new(er). I love all those beautifully decorated trees too! (War propaganda posters always creep me out too... they have a ton of them posted in the National World War 2 Museum in New Orleans. Oh so racist some of them.... yikes!)

    1. Thanks! It had plenty of charm...I don't need fancy :) Yeah, it doesn't get much more racist than that poster.

  2. You know all the good things to do around here! I really love Christmas. It's the only holiday that my family has always been together on and it's a big deal. I'm really excited to head home for it :)

    1. I want to go to the Gingerbread Walk and Christkindlmarkt in Belleville. The market is new and I haven't been to on the Gingerbread walk for years. .

  3. That looks like a lovely evening, especially the chicken and noodles, yum!

    I completely get that it is tough to get into the holiday season this year and just know THAT IS 100% OK! Just tell yourself that over and over again. It is OK not to put on a happy face. It is OK to be sad. It is OK to take time to recover. And it also OK to find joy where you can find it. HUGS to you!

    1. It was chicken and noodles or beef stew...so I had to go chicken :) Thank you for the encouragement. I definitely don't want to be a killjoy so I am trying to keep it together most of the time and save the sad for private time. It will get better :)