Christmas stockings are hung from the chimneys with care and human and animal critters have been stirring about our homes. 'Tis the Christmas season and we've been busy with our traditions.
Ah, yes - traditions - old and new - make their debut once again as we release them from the cockles of our hearts where we've kept them safe for a year. Though the concepts remain the same, each year presents a new ''slant'' unique and dependent on our family's maturity.
After a one-year hiatus, Grammy's (that's me) Christmas Village - Kirchville - comes to life. More than 100 villagers stroll through village square, shopping and greeting one another. Some head for church while others carol at the gazebo or purchase their Christmas tree or wreath from a local vendor. Children and young adults sled down snow-covered hills, ice skate on the frozen pond or visit the animals at the petting zoo. Youngsters gather at the school playground swinging, climbing the jungle gym or riding the merry-go-round. Others must work - even at this Christmas time. Firemen rescue a kitty from a tree, a postman delivers mail, an officer walks his beat insuring safety to all and chimney sweeps precariously climb atop roofs. Grandpa sits on a tree stump sipping hot cocoa after shoveling walkways. All appears well and serene in Kirchville.
Look more closely and you'll see the village bully aiming at the church choir - snowball in hand. A band of four golden retrievers race through town with a string of sausage links hanging from their mouths. A ''seated'' neighbor forgot to shut the outhouse door and a puppy brazenly lifts his leg on the fire hydrant.
All is well ... but the big moment ... lighting of ''Kirchville'' comes ... and the entire tourist section fails to light up.
Drats! I choose to believe that money is scarce this year, so the good village people have decided to remain in their village proper rather than indulge in tourism.
Stories People Tell
Our tradition of Advents is a yearlong shopping spree at garage sales and flea markets at which we buy 24 gifts for each Advent recipient. Grandchildren receive the Advent gifts until they reach the age of 16 and my daughter and I exchange one as well.
A new tradition is our first annual cookie bake. Daughter Deb, grandchildren Amanda, Alese, David and Clayton and I converged on Amanda and Andy's home with our favorite cookie recipe, ingredients, mixers, bowls and freezer containers.
We each found our own little corner to whip our magic. We mixed and stirred and formed and frosted for over four hours. We laughed and chatted and even danced a bit. The home was alive with happy sounds of electric mixers, clattering cookie tins, over door opening and closing, metal spoons against glass bowls and whole walnuts being cracked in the vice grip of the metal nutcracker. Sweet smells permeated the air and sampling was a must.
We learned a few things too. We will not cool cookies on the bottom shelf of Amanda's shelf unit. Oliver, Amanda and Candy's large dog simply be trusted ... enough said. We must lower oven temps to accommodate recipes. We must remember that 2 tablespoons is not equal to 2/3 cups. Also, vegetable choppers won't chop Oreo cookies, parchment paper must not touch oven sides and powdered sugar is difficult to vacuum off dark carpets.
David and Clayton did a great job of decorating sugar cut-outs. However, next year, David will make his snowman cookie smaller so it won't rise and spread out to a cookie the size of Bemus! Santa will chomp on that during his trip.
Traditions are a wonderful celebration in honor of his birth. Anything enveloped in the love of Christ will indeed keep Christ in Christmas.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Candace Trippy Kircher is a Jamestown resident.