Today’s post is dedicated to my sister Tara who suggested this adventure, but was unfortunately unable to join in the fun.
It’s that time of year again when friends and family think about Christmases past. Mom and I took it one step further by stepping back in time in one of Michigan’s most unique Christmas celebrations. Had we been able to participate in the entire weekend, we would have experienced bagpipers, a reindeer meet and greet and carolers elegantly dressed in Victorian style attire. The entire Old Christmas Weekend is filled with lovely events including Festival of Trees and guided tours of the historic Dempsey Manor. We simply enjoyed the magical experience of the beautifully decorated downtown. http://www.visitmanistee.com/local-events/sleighbell-festival#.VmOEkzZdHIU
The Lumberjack Luncheon was first on the list for two hungry ladies. Held at the First Congregational Church they delivered enough stew over biscuits and pie to feed a lot of hungry lumberjacks (and ladies). We left very satisfied. The church itself was originally built in 1862 and a beautiful building.
Wanting to honor the area’s German heritage, we toured the Manistee Historical Museum with exhibits of traditions, decorations, dollhouses, miniatures, toys, trains and enjoyed the Liliputian Christmas displays. The building has remained as it was in 1905 and houses one of the most extensive collections of Victorian antiques and photographs in Michigan. www.manisteemuseum.org
While exploring the museum’s second floor we came across a musical player Mom recognized from her childhood. Turns our her grandfather had one just like it and she’d not seen one since. That was a fun find.
It was the Pennsylvania Dutch tree that had us in stiches. The story goes that when the Germans came over they brought with them their Christmas customs and decorated trees. But they also wouldn’t think of cutting down a fresh tree year after year. So the first year the evergreen was beautiful and green. At the end of the season they would shake it to remove any needles that hadn’t dropped and store it. The following year(s) the skeleton would be pulled out and each branch painstakingly wrapped in cotton. Now we know why we want to stretch every penny! We’re mostly Scotch with a dab of Pennsylvania Dutch. That explains so much! LOL
A short distance from the Museum stand the historic Ramsdell Theater where we strolled among creatively decorated Christmas trees, wreaths, tabletop items and other seasonal decor designed by local holiday enthusiasts. Visitors could bid on these lovely holiday treasures, decorated by area schools, community organizations and businesses. People were encouraged to vote on their favorite trees by leaving canned goods at the base of the tree, with all food to be donated to the local food pantry at the end of the weekend. www.ramsdelltheatre.org
Before starting south, we enjoyed a guided tour of the historic 1894 Lumber Baron Mansion, which now houses the Dempsey Manor Bed and Breakfast Inn and Victorian Tea Room. It houses marvelous Neo-French Renaissance architecture, exquisite period furniture, artwork and decorative items owned by the current owner, Emmy winning James Colburn. www.dempseymanorbandb.com
Then some Christmas magic happened. When I parked the car in Tara’s driveway I noticed a candycane hanging from my keys. I didn’t put it there and I didn’t notice it there when I put the keys in the ignition. I went so as to accuse Mom of pulling a trick on me and she swears she didn’t place it there. Surely, one of us would have noticed it while driving 60 miles. We smiled at the Christmas “miracle” and took it into my sister as a magical gift.
However you celebrate, keep in mind Christmas is about sharing and spending time with family and friends. A little smile. A word of cheer. A bit of love from someone near. Or a bit of Christmas magic, it’s about creating happy memories with those you love. Merry Christmas!