Thursday, December 18, 2014

Starting gate

I feel as though I'm just at the starting gate now for Christmas. The gifts are wrapped and the cookie tins are distributed and now I can concentrate on the final preparation.

Saturday is our annual Christmas party and every year I wish I had a bigger house. We began this tradition about ten years ago - maybe more now - and we have a sit down dinner for some good friends who have entertained us throughout the year. Every year I wish my house were bigger because we are so constrained by the size of the house and can't expand to include some newer friends we've accumulated over the years, or any of the family people we love, and after all if you're cooking for 20 its not that much harder to cook for 40. I love doing the party but I do wish I could invite more people.

Anyway, that's always the Saturday before Christmas so I have that coming this weekend. Then on Monday I have a luncheon for the ladies who work at Village Hall. Its another fun time and I love having them over, but its a big event for me because it involves cooking and decorating, setting a nice table etc. So that's on my countdown list. Those are the last events I need to get done and then its all downhill from there. Monday afternoon we'll get the wrapped gifts out of the attic, put tags on them, and sort them out. Tuesday my daughter and her family arrive from PA and Wednesday is Christmas Eve - I'm so ready for the fun to begin..

I actually just bought some gifts for next Christmas. So I've already gotten a good start.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Today I distribute my Christmas cookies. I wonder how many people who will receive them actually understand that work that went into them.

I begin at Thanksgivng and I bake every chance I get. I bake in the evenings, I bake on free mornings, I bake on the weekends. And I bake until I've made a dozen different types of cookies to stuff into cookie tins and give away to the people we work with. We like to acknowledge the folks who make our every day lives pleasant and productive. And this is the way we do it.

Of course I say "we" with a smile since my husband does none of the work on this. I remember fondly my uncle who worked side by side with my aunt, chopping nuts, slicing cookies, basically being her literal right hand man as she made here Christmas cookies every year. Ah.... I could use an assistant like that!

I think I may begin grooming my granddaughter for the job. She's a cookie baking lover and always wants to make some when she comes. She may be the perfect assistant for this job, but it may be a couple years. She' only four this year. I'm thinking the age of six might just be prefect....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Tonight I will bake the last of my Christmas cookies for distribution tomorrow. It's always a huge relief to get that job done. But at the same time I enjoy doing it.

There's great satisfaction in giving people you care about something you make yourself. And I've been making them since Thanksgiving weekend, slowly filling the freezer with bags of all different varieties, shapes, and sizes. It started many years ago when I couldn't afford to buy the gifts I wanted to give to co-workers and good friends, and now, although buying something would be cheaper and easier, it would seem less personal. Because these are labors of love representing weeks of work and equal amounts of care. Only special people get them.

Well tonight the last batch will be baked and tomorrow morning I'll lay out the cookie tins and fill them all, adding tags and packing them into bags to distribute. And then, it will be over or another year.

It must be almost Christmas...

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Harbor

I'm pretty crazy about Sag Harbor.

When I drive down Main Street there I feel at home. Not that I've ever lived there, but the fact that it looks pretty much the same as it did when I was a child makes it feel like home. I love the small town feel and the simple shops and little alleys. Oh I know its rapidly changing, and people are trying to keep it as it is, but the restaurants alone show the signs of the times. They are all new (no more Paradise of the 1960s), slick and trendy. With the exception of The Corner Bar, none of them feel like the place I grew up anymore.

But I love that crossing the street doesn't involve taking one's life in one's hand. It's fairly easy to accomplish and not really terrifying at all.And of course the historic homes all along the tiny streets are especially wonderful. I love their fancy porches and lovely facades.

I think the redevelopment of the old watch case factory has really peaked my love for the place. For so many years that decrepit building made driving into Sag Harbor a bit sad and depressing. It seemed that it was uncared for and crumbling around the people who lived around it. But now, with new life and beautiful  brickwork appearing where there was once an abandoned building, it feels vital and alive and that makes a huge difference. Suddenly Sag Harbor beckons me. I want to live in that building, where I could walk to church at Old Whalers, go for dinner at The Corner, and wander to the waterfront to dream of bygone days when hundreds of tall ships' masts filled the sky.

Yes, Sag Harbor is the place to be right now. Seeing the redevelopments happening to all its beautiful old houses makes me wonder how long the love affair will last though...

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Yesterday I left early for a meeting in Southampton and in the early light was enjoying more of the holiday decorations around town. It was dark enough that most of the lights were still on, although the sun was coming up. Right away I noticed that the library had some pretty wreaths on the front windows, still lit up and so pretty. They had big red wreaths and made that old Tudor building look very stately.

In Bridgehampton there was a really nice tree outside one of the Inns and the Main Street was so peaceful in the early light.

But the one that surprised me the most was the gas station as I was coming in to Southampton. It's the small white building on the left where you turn to go to the hospital. It has two large windows on either side of the center door, with divided lights that give it a little character. There were two huge wreaths that nearly covered those windows and the white twinkling lights were still on. It was a really nice display for a small business and I appreciated the effort.

Sometimes the holidays really bring out the best in some of the most surprising places.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Main Street

It still thrills me driving down Main Street at Christmas.

Last night I came home after dark and as I turned the corner at the pond I began to look for each special display. There was the tree in the pond all in blue. There was Mulford Farm and Home Sweet Home - the Schellinger mill beautifully lit against the black of night. The 1770 House has a beautiful tree all in white now, as well as the bushes on either side of the entrance. Both Clinton Academy and Osborne Jackson House have twin potted plants at their doors, each with lots of lights. And of course the trees along the commercial district.

I like the way the roping is swagged along the picket fence at Village Hall. And I love some of the window displays.

Of course Hook Mill can be seen all the way from Hunting Lane with its arms ablaze. And The Mill House B&B is wonderfully done.

The large tree behind the cemetery is gone this year, the victim of age, but there is a smaller one in its place and it will be fun to see that one grow.

Every year much the same. And that is, I think, the best part of all.

Friday, December 12, 2014


I mentioned window displays in my recent blog and it made me think about the holiday displays of my childhood - quite different from the ones in East Hampton today.

My favorite store during Christmas was, of course, the toy store on Main Street. I particularly remember the year the Chatty Cathy doll came out. It was amazing! A talking doll! How was that possible? Not only did we drool over it in the widow that Christmas, we would go inside and if we asked nicely the man would take it off the high shelf he had it safely tucked away on, and he would pull the string, just once, to let is listen to her speak. Wow! We could hardly believe it! If course it wasn't in the cards for us to get those that year (or any year for that matter!). After all, there were three girls in our family and I think they were about $20 each, a hefty price in the early 1060s!

Diamonds Furniture Store always had a nice Christmas tree in their window, set in a living room which looked cozy and inviting with the beautiful new couch and chairs and colorful area rug. It was always a much fancier living room than we had with our threadbare carpeting and chairs with shredded arms.

I remember thee windows in the East End Hardware store because there were always sleds and skates in that window. And Fifth Avenue Fashion with the mannequins all dressed up in their sparkly holiday dresses. Of course Ross Fanning Jewelers was exciting because I loved the pretty necklaces and bracelets there.

Yes, the windows were always inviting at Christmas. Not as fancy as the ones we have today, with their professionally window dressers who spend two days loading in the designs done somewhere in an office by designers who probably have never even visited East Hampton. They're stunningly beautiful for sure with their snow scenes and special lighting. But those windows back in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s remain in my memory as the real beauties. They may not have been as fancy, but they were totally East Hampton.