Cherry Hill Newsletter Winter Holiday Issue 2020
Remembering Christmases of the past … The Cherry Hill Holiday Shoppe One of the things we missed most this year was our annual Children’s Holiday Shoppe. For more than 25 years, it has been the much anticipated and beloved start of the holiday season at the Cherry Hill Farmhouse. Over the years, we have helped hundreds of children find the perfect gifts for family and friends and then wrapped each item so their choices could remain a secret until the big day. It has always been difficult to tell who enjoys the Holiday Shoppe the most—the shoppers or the volunteers. Funds raised go toward our educational outreach efforts and our work to conserve and care for our collections. (The photos below are from past years’ Holiday Shoppes.)
Oh, Tannenbaum! Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, is often credited with introducing the Germanic custom of decorating a Christmas tree to the people of England. However, the concept had been originally shared in the 1780s, by the German wife of George III, Queen Charlotte. It became Victoria and Albert’s practice to center their family Christmas celebrations around a decorated tree. That, and their inclusion of their children in the holiday activities, was soon reflected in the media of the day and rapidly spread new customs throughout Britain and the world in which the focus of Christmas shifted from adults to children. (The illustration is based on an 1847 engraving of the Royal Family that appeared in Godey’s magazine and changed the way Christmas was celebrated. For more information on the history of Christmas in Britain, go to https://www.historytoday.com/ archive/ scrooge-and-albert)
Christmas Past …
Dickens’ Magical Tale
A Christmas Carol, the novella by Charles Dickens, was first published in London by Chapman & Hall in 1843. It was illustrated by John Leech. The complete title is A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. It recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man. Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol during a period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions, including carols, and newer customs such as Christmas trees. He was influenced by the experiences of his own youth, the lives of impoverished children, and by the Christmas stories of other authors. Dickens was involved in charities and social issues throughout his entire life. Dickens was adamant that A Christmas Carol be published as a highquality, stand-alone book and paid the publishing costs himself. The book appears to be the most popular of Dickens’s works and sold 6000 copies in 1843. The book is still popular today, 177 years later. Charles Dickens, through the voice of Scrooge, continues to urge us to honor Christmas in our hearts by being kind and generous during the holidays and throughout the year. To read the original version of the book on-line, go to: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/46/46-h/46-h.htm
Christmas in 19th Century America Christmas today is a much different celebration than it was before it became a recognized federal day off from work or a break from mail delivery in 1870. Penne Restad wrote in 1995 that “the creation of an American Christmas was a response to social and personal needs that arose at a particular point in history, in this case a time of sectional conflict and civil war, as well as the unsettling processes of urbanization and industrialization. The holiday's new customs and meanings helped the nation to make sense of the confusions of the era and to secure, if only for a short while each year, a soothing feeling of unity. He refers to this as an 'invention of tradition.’ He explains that in colonial times, Virginia planters took the occasion to feast, dance, gamble, hunt and visit, perpetuating what they believed to be the old Christmas customs in English manors. Even as late as the early nineteenth century, many Americans, churched or unchurched, northerners or southerners, hardly took notice of the holiday at all. By mid-century, however, change in communications, transportation, immigration, science, religion, and wealth was rampant and rapid ‘These new conditions began to undercut local customs and create needs for common and visible celebrations’ and a nostalgia for the values of the past. Celebration of Christmas evolved from old customs into a more national and unifying “ideal of the family gathered at the hearth.” (Continued on p3)
Christmas Past …
Christmas in19th Century America (continued)
The strongest impetus for such a holiday came from those areas most profoundly affected by the various social, economic and technological revolutions of the antebellum era, especially in the northern cities. A number of writers came to see holidays as a tool to meet these ends and even to forge a national culture. New Year's Eve, the Fourth of July and, especially, Thanksgiving had their merits and partisans, but Christmas emerged as the most logical and affecting choice. By the 1850s, it had captured the Northern imagination and was making inroads in the South.
Christmas Time - The Blodgett Family (1864) by Eastman Johnson (American painter, 1824-1906)
The Civil War intensified Christmas's appeal. Its sentimental celebration of family matched the yearnings of soldiers and those they left behind.
Its message of peace and goodwill spoke to the most immediate prayers of all Americans. The northern victory in 1865 helped determine the popularity and shape of America’s Christmas incorporating customs and symbols of Yankee origin and preference. The traditional Christmas tree came into front parlors and the marketplace. By 1900, one American in five was estimated to have a Christmas tree. Over time, decorations went from hand-made with natural materials to glass ornaments. (Cherry Hill’s patriotic Christmas tree is shown at right. For more information on the history of Christmas trees, see the Winter 2019-2020 issue of the Cherry Hill Newsletter.) Christmas cards were first distributed in the early 1850s but as designs expanded, printing improved, and marketing grew, cards grew in popularity during the last decades of the century. Over-riding the older custom of writing Christmas letters or making personal holiday visits, the cards' ready-made sentiments enabled contact with friends and families spread across the rapidly expanding national geography. Christmas gift-giving, a seeming product of increased commerce and consumerism, also expanded over the century. Charitable gifts could serve as symbolic solutions to the problems of extreme economic inequality that threatened social peace and individual conscience. Gift-giving itself became controversial, sometimes perceived as a worrisome, materialistic perversion of a holy day. Santa Claus first appeared in semi-modern form in the 1820s in Clement Moore's An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicholas. This updated version of an old saint emerged as a major folk figure in a fur-trimmed red suit with toys, eight reindeer, a sleigh, and a home at the North Pole. By the 1850s and 1860s, artists and writers widened the image. Thomas Nast's fanciful Christmas drawings gave Santa a workshop and ledgers to record children's conduct. He and others added elves and a wife. Seeing this growing Christmas imagery, some viewed Santa and his productions as reflective of Capitalism. Others worried that Santa would become a substitute for Jesus.
This article is largely drawn from “Christmas in 19th Century’s America” by Penne Restad, in History Today Vol 45 Issue 12, December 1995. The link to the complete article is: https://www.historytoday.com/archive/christmas-19th-century-America.
Christmas Present … At a minimum, 2020 has been a year of great change. We asked our Board members and newsletter team to share their thoughts on this “year like no other.” From Maureen Budetti, FoCH Co-President I wanted to end this difficult year with messages from the board members to the Cherry Hill community and to each other. The 2020 newsletters have been a welcome focus for me this year. Their compilation put me in virtual contact with many of you – Diane, Julia, Deane, Rosemary, Ruth, Gail, Kaye, Corey, Holly and, of course, my nearby neighbors, Katharine and Jennifer. I have also learned a lot in the process of writing and reading the articles and appreciated all the help composing and distributing them. I also want to commend Corey on keeping in touch with us and the community through her creative use of Facebook. This work for Cherry Hill and my other Falls Church volunteer activities, including Zoom knitting, help in creating an on-line presentation of Falls Church Arts called “A Woman’s Journey” (Falls Church Arts.org) and a series of art-for-non-artists classes through Creative Cauldron (creativecauldron.org) have provided meaningful purpose and kept me busy. They have also ensured valued social contact, so important since my family members are hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of miles away. This additional, end-of-2020, winter newsletter looks back on prior Cherry Hill Farmhouse holiday celebrations and forward to a better 2021. Of my five years working at Cherry Hill for the City of Falls Church, this year has been like no other. Due to an abundance of caution we canceled nearly all our programs: weekly tours, school and scout programs, tea parties, and annual special events. I feel fortunate that we had the support needed to make these challenging decisions. Because it was important to me that our community knew that, although our doors were closed, we were still here, we increased the amount of content shared on our Facebook page. Hopefully some of you enjoyed the new content, craft and games tutorials! Fortunately, this summer we were able to offer our outdoor summer camp program. I am so proud of that accomplishment. It enabled campers to safely interact with their peers and taste a bit of normalcy. Parents gave us lots of positive feed-back. “Blast Into the Past camp was handled extremely well. I greatly appreciate the safety measures that the lead counselor put in place - planning most activities outdoors, having kids bring their own blankets to remain on, maintaining social distance, etc. The attention to safety was very reassuring and I think the lead counselor did an excellent job. My daughter really enjoys this camp and I appreciate the effort to plan new activities each year. We will continue to register for this camp in future years - it is a favorite for our family!” In closing, I just want to say that my favorite part of working at Cherry Hill has always been working directly with the volunteers and visitors, and I cannot wait to get back to offering the programming we are known for, sometime in the new year.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas. The Christmas Shop for children was always the beginning of the holidays for me, so without it I’m waiting for something. Next year can’t come too soon! Gail Lanouette I retired a second time in 2019 and was looking forward to this new part of life, volunteering more, learning new skills, traveling to see family, among other things. The coronavirus pandemic put a pause on that though. It also changed up plans for my son’s wedding this past spring in Denver. Ben and Jess went ahead and got married, a ceremony shared with 10 people, including my son Jeremy who filmed it so it could be live-streamed via Facebook. They will have a big party next May, fingers crossed. My extended family has remained healthy, such a blessing for us all. Happy Holidays! And I look forward to seeing our friends and visitors at Cherry Hill when we re-open. Katharine Stewart
Christmas Present …
The thought of not seeing our West Coast children and grandchildren over the holidays prompted my husband and me to drive across the country in November. With the exception of an unexpected snowstorm, our cross-country trip proved to be more enjoyable than we had anticipated. Our trip took us through Nashville, Fort Smith, Amarillo and Albuquerque with a slight detour to Santa Fe. In Arizona we took the old Route 66 and enjoyed many roadside attractions from the 1950s. We are now renting a house down the street from our daughter in Santa Barbara. Since arriving in California we have enjoyed hiking and biking with the kids and spending time at the beach. Yes, there is a reason why people put up with fires and earthquakes to live here! Our son and his family are visiting from Seattle for the month of December. We feel very fortunate to have our family together. These difficult times certainly make us appreciate family and friends. Wishing you all good health and happiness in the New Year!
Diane Morse, FoCH Co-President In this year of the pandemic, I will miss most of all participating in the annual Christmas Tea. The farmhouse would always be elegantly decorated with Victorian Christmas ornaments and arrangements, the tea sandwiches and sweets perfectly suited to the season, Mrs. Blaisdale (aka Kaye Oman) would tell stories about past Christmas celebrations at Cherry Hill and the excitement of the attendees arriving at the door of the farmhouse for the tea was obvious and contagious. Maureen and I would have our Christmas aprons on as we welcomed everyone and served the tea. I don't remember it ever snowing on a tea day but that didn't lessen the spirits of the tea goers. I'm sure we're all looking forward to when Cherry Hill farmhouse will be used for teas and other community events.
Here in beautiful Southern California, where the newsletter gets compiled, it has been a long, rough year. We’ve experienced record heat, destructive winds, drought, catastrophic fires and one of the worst COVID infection records in the nation. We are currently back under the highest level of closure again, with some areas under curfew. It will last through Christmas and probably be extended. Needless to say, we don’t get out much! The high points of my year have been when Maureen sends a note to say we are getting ready to start on the next issue of the Cherry Hill newsletter! I love those mega-issues! Thanks for allowing me to be part of the team! Holly Fenelon
The April birth of my first great-grandchild, a smiley active baby girl, is my best news this year. I have also worked on family history projects. Most recently, a neighbor who is good in crafts made three copies of a cloth Christmas tree that I made some years ago. They are preChristmas gifts for my three local grandchildren. Deane Dierksen
Like many of us, I mark certain times of the year with traditions. Since moving here four years ago, one of my favorites has been gift wrapping for the Children's Holiday Shoppe. Being in that wonderful old house filled with children's happy voices is magic. I love the intensity some of the shoppers bring to their task (read: detailed shopping lists) and the careless abandon of others. But my favorite thing of all are the conversations I have with every child as I wrap their gifts. While they lend a finger to help tie ribbons, they half-lean on the table and tell me all about the sister or brother, mom or dad, best friend or grandparent the gift is for, and why they think they will love it. Sometimes the reasons are hilarious, and sometimes they are touching, but it never fails that I go home that day feeling like I have been given a gift. Jennifer de Vignier
Christmas Present â€Ś Holiday Wreaths of Falls Church
To our Cherry Hill Farmhouse friends ~ Itâ€™s been a rough year, but we made it! We hope your various holidays, though perhaps untraditional this year, are bright and filled with hope for a kinder, gentler new year! Your support, enthusiasm and generosity mean everything to us at Cherry Hill Farm and we hope to see you often in the coming months when we are once again able to carry on with our mission. Happy holidays and a most wonderful new year to you all!
All the members of the Friends of Cherry Hill Board
A Note About Membership for 2021 Please renew now! Check with Deane Dierksen (email@example.com) if you have a question about your membership. Our income was down this year because our main source of income - our teas - had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Contributions are always welcome.
Appliance Upgrade Cherry Hill Farmhouse has acquired a gently used stove and refrigerator from the old George Mason High School scheduled for demolition. We are excited to have an upgrade to our kitchen appliances at no cost. Our appliances receive a significant amount of use at the farmhouse during tea parties, summer camps and private rentals.
Christmas Present â€Ś
Each year, local artist Jack Lanouette delights the residents of Falls Church, young and old, with his holiday wonderland display. He creates most of the individual pieces himself. Jack is the grandson of Gail Lanouette, a FoCH Board member. Thank you, Jack, for helping us all feel the magic of the season, especially providing us a Toy Shop.
A Cherry Hill Farmhouse Ornament
Deane Dierksenâ€™s festive fabric holiday trees!
Christmas Yet to Come …
and a few other things
Virtual Girl Scout Programs Cherry Hill will be offering three virtual Girl Scout badge programs this winter: Making Games for Brownies, Detectives for Juniors, and Budgeting for Cadettes. Each program ties in the history of Cherry Hill while meeting all badge requirements. Learn more about each program on our website: cherryhillfallschurch.org • • •
Making Games (Brownies) – Saturday January 16 from 10 am – 11:30 pm Detectives (Juniors) – Saturday January 30 from 10 am – 12pm Budgeting (Cadettes) – Saturday February 13 from 10 am – 12 pm
‘Tis a sad holiday tale, but true, that the gifts purchased for the 2020 Holiday Shoppe still languish in a board member’s cupboard. Their opportunity to be selected as “just what I had been thinking of” by a happy child will have to wait another year. But they are already dreaming that they will someday be as artfully displayed as those lucky items in 2019!
A Little 2020 Humor 1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a
2020 planner. 2. 2019: Stay away from negative people; 2020: Stay away from positive people. 3. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 4. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 5. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask and asking for money.
~ The first commercial Christmas card (above) was devised and sent by Henry Cole in 1843 who sold the cards for a shilling. ~ In America, Louis Prang, a printer, produced the first commercially available Christmas cards. By 1881, over 5 million cards were being produced every year in the US.
Things we couldn’t fit in elsewhere … Have you ever heard of Franksgiving? In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national holiday for giving thanks. But in 1939, retailers feared that a late Thanksgiving that year (November 30) could hurt Christmas sales. Traditionally, the Christmas shopping season began the day after Thanksgiving, but President Roosevelt decided to move the date up a week, to the second-to-last Thursday of November. Much upheaval, protest and comedy ensued, leading some to deride the holiday as “Franksgiving.” Democrats favored the switch 52% to 48%, according to a Gallup Poll, while Republicans opposed it 79% to 21%. Americans overall were opposed. That year, twenty-three states and the District of Columbia recognized the holiday on 1933 November 23; twenty-two states preserved the traditional date, which some called the “Republican” Thanksgiving; and three states celebrated the holiday in both weeks. Popular comedians of the daylike Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, and the Three Stooges joked about the confusion over when to observe Thanksgiving Day. A 1941 Commerce Department survey found no significant expansion of retail sales due to the change, and Congress voted to designate the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day. Roosevelt went along and signed the bill. Article and photo are from the November 2020 issue of The Fireside, a publication of The Living New Deal. https://livingnewdeal.org/
Seasonal Wreaths of Falls Church
Did You Know? Santa’s Christmas reindeer date to The Night Before Christmas written in 1832. Rudolf didn’t join the group until more than a century later in 1939. The poem was commissioned by the Montgomery Ward Company.
It seems that the flavor of mint is associated with Christmas, although it is not clear why. Some believe that in 1670, a choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral provided candy to children at their living Nativity to keep them occupied. The candy was shaped to look like a shepherd’s staff, but the peppermint flavor probably wasn’t introduced for another 200 years. Candy canes became popular to hang on Christmas trees in the United States. Perhaps the green of mint played a role or the coolness of the flavor might have been associated with cold and snow.
“Christmas: Surprising Story of the Holiday in America” is an interesting article available from Time Magazine through this link: https://time.com/4608452/christmasamerica-national-holiday/ Did you know? In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a bill designating Christmas as a legal, unpaid holiday for federal employees in the District of Columbia.
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Our final issue of 2020 reflects back on the past year, embraces the present, and looks forward to the future. Wishing everyone a healthy an...
Published on Dec 23, 2020
Our final issue of 2020 reflects back on the past year, embraces the present, and looks forward to the future. Wishing everyone a healthy an...