Christmas Dreams

Do you remember the wonder you felt as a child racing down the stairs to see what Santa had left under the tree? Regardless of what I might have asked the jolly old elf to bring, my fondest memories recall the preparations and anticipation—baking and decorating cookies at my Grandmother’s house, cutting and gluing felt gift cases adorned in glitter with my cousin, and playing games with my family in the quiet of Christmas night.

Despite its rank commercialism, I still get a kick out of the TV ad from several years ago showing such a Christmas bounty that even the parents were stunned, the father muttering, “Those must have been some cookies,” and his smiling daughter responding, “I didn’t leave him cookies, I left him cheese!” Ah, the power of cheese!

But the genial Jim Morrison reminds us the joy of such indulgence is fleeting. As the self-named Santa Jr., he delighted in talking with the children who visited his National Christmas Center over two decades, noting that most of their wish lists were simple—two or three items. What they liked most about the holiday, they told him, were things like going to Grandma’s or visiting with cousins.

For the child in all of us, we’re happy to report that Morrison’s dream of a Christmas museum has been given new life, and a significant portion of its collection, with many additions including a nostalgic streetscape, will be on display this season in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. We give you a peek of what’s in store.

We also revisit the Federal-style home of Forest and Kathy Oberschlake in Ohio. Devotees of Colonial Williamsburg, they have continued to pick up new decorating ideas and work them into their holiday display, surely to the wonderment of their grand- and great-grandchildren.

Thanks to Britain’s Queen Victoria (or maybe her publicist), an 1840 drawing of the royal tabletop tree festooned with gifts and sweets for her children gained wide attention in Britain and America, inspiring those celebrating Christmas in both countries to add a decorated tree to their holiday festivities. But, we learned, the royal tradition started well before Victoria’s time.

By the end of the 19th Century, Victorians likely added the sparkle of gold and silver pressed cardboard ornaments to their trees. Called Dresdens, the ornaments were made in Germany and exported by the thousands across Europe and to America. Betty and Folsom Bell shared their collection of these delightful miniatures, giving us an inkling of just how colorful and varied they were.

For a more subtle decorating approach, our herbal experts Don Haynie and Tom Hamlin took a fresh look at their favorite holiday objects and found new ways to display them. With a bit of greenery, a few white lights, and some imagination, they created displays with surprising— and perhaps overlooked—details.

Collector and inveterate gardener Henry Francis du Pont arranged the rooms in his mansion, now Winterthur Museum, to highlight their views of the garden. The museum’s staff honors his love of nature by creating decorations using greenery and flowers each year for Yuletide at Winterthur. They shared the splendor of previous years and invite to see what they’ll be creating for this holiday season.

This issue brings you both ideas for decorating to bring joy and wonder to your home, and a reminder of the origins of Christmas—the birth of a child who grew to preach about accepting all people and caring for those in need. May you find happiness and peace in the true meaning of this holiday season.

Jeanmarie Andrews

Executive Editor

Click here to post a comment about this letter.
Subscribers Partners Advertisers About Us Contact Us Copyright © 2023 Firelands Media Group LLC