- Holidays and Celebrations
Christmas in Connecticut Today
OH, Christmas Tree
The Meaning of Christmas in Connecticut
What does Christmas really mean today? As I drive through the harried streets, traffic sounds are buffered as I zone into Christmas tunes on Lite 100.5 FM radio. I observe the cliché of hustle and bustle, with creatures stirring all around me. Many people circle their cars in mall lots to find spaces close to the store entrance. They rush to get inside to beat the crowds, only to find a mob waiting in line outside the Wal-Mart, Best Buy or other popular shopping scene. These mobs are often angry patron’s guarding their spot in line like the perimeter of a boarder control. US customs takes on a dual meaning when a holiday shopper is standing in a cashier line on a Black Friday. Holiday customs are forgotten as the last Frozen character is spied high above the toy store shelf, as three mothers vie for its ownership.
So, what does this seasonal holiday really mean to families in this transitory flurry of pursuit? Many cyclical commentaries and exposés have been written on this seasonal topic. Most themes address peace on earth and good will toward all men, with the occasional article on a trampled consumer bottlenecking their way through the mall doors on the All Hallowed Black Friday’s bewitching hour. Perhaps it is so named for the demise of its many patrons, with nightly news issuing its own rendition of the sacred Military Black Boarder. Retailers strategize year round for the most alluring commercials and best possible ploys to attract the most somber customer.
Not all Christmas events and traditions are bright lights and big city. Many, like me, enjoy the cozy setting of Christmas in my town, in Connecticut. I love the stillness of the newly fallen snow that drapes across the fields on a back road near town. A night drive elevates hushed sounds from a distance, as the crunch of snow under tires holds a resonance that blends with the crisp breeze at nightfall.
Local tree farms hold tree tagging and trimming, caroling on hay rides, feeding reindeer, enjoying hot chocolate and cider sipping sleigh rides, and many other winter events. Christmas in Connecticut you can choose your own tree or find precut ones, as well as wreaths, boughs, garland, mistletoe and other festive Christmas decorations. Connecticut has a variety of evergreen trees to choose from, such as Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Norway spruce, Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Douglas fir and Angel White Pines, at local tree farms.
Even in the frosty air Connecticut’s annual Manchester Road Race can invigorate the spirit and ready the soul for a long winter’s nap!
Santa Claus, The Polar Express, Frosty the Snowman and Elf on a Shelf provide additional joy to the many traditions of gift-giving. Children board the Valley Railroad Company’s Essex Steam Train in the Connecticut River Valley, where Santa Claus travels with them on the North Pole Express!
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve of Connecticut collects toys each year for the Toys for Tots program, in all fifty states. However, this annual tradition provides toys to children who have little to no opportunity for toys during the holiday season. Collection begins in October and runs until late December, with a culmination of toy pick-ups from central warehouses that sort by age and gender. Local coordinators with social welfare agencies, church groups, and other community organizations will distribute the toys to the underprivileged children of the community.
Christmas concerts, plays and productions can be found in Hartford at The Bushnell or East Haddam’s Goodspeed Opera House on the Connecticut River. You can also find Christmas Concerts locally, as many churches are often filled with a few extra parishioners during the holiday season. Many who do not usually attend throughout the year will join in the warmth of the religious holiday festivities and sit in the luminous parishes and cathedrals to find comfort in the hum of Christmas Hymns and fellowship with their snowbound neighbors.
No matter what traditions are celebrated throughout the holiday season, townspeople of Connecticut enjoy all that the community has to offer. Townsfolk find meaning in various ways, through many diverse customs and traditions. Meaning is relative when it comes to holiday standards and beliefs, as many cultures come together and meld with the customs of Connecticut. New traditions are fashioned as the old are transformed to a new age of holiday ideals.
The meaning of Christmas in Connecticut, as well as across the globe, is to enjoy the fun and frolic of the season through all it has to offer, but most importantly it is to find ones’ place among the hustle and bustle for our own prayers for peace and a good parking spaces for all!
The North Pole Express
The Cream of Connecticut
Whip up a few good blends, for your holiday desserts. Pumpkin pie, apple crisp and bread pudding are only a few good treats that pair well with ice-cream, Cool Whip and whipped cream. However, nothing beats (pun intended!) fresh whipped cream topping for your holiday desserts.
HOW TO WHIP CREAM (Yield 2 Cups)
Chill bowl and beaters for 30 minutes prior to use.
Pour one cup of heavy cream in a large mixing bowl.
Whip on high, until the cream makes soft peaks (not too much or you will have “butter!”)
When soft peaks form:
Add 2 Tablespoons of sugar (confectioners’ sugar is best!)
Add 2 teaspoons of real Vanilla extract.
Plop a dollop on your dessert and eat!
Re-whisk for about 12-15 seconds to re-stiffen the cream.
*Add cocoa powder for a chocolate treat.
Add a ½ teaspoon of food color to add interest. Experiment with other flavors!
Note: Heavy Cream, Whipping Cream and Heavy Whipping Cream are all the same. (One cup of cream liquid = 2 cups of whipped cream, and so on).
What does Christmas mean to you?
Last Minute Gifts
It is always good to have a few extra 'last minute' gifts on hand for those unexpected holiday visitors who come bearing gifts, or the house party that you forgot about the 'Yankee Swap' exchange!
Always use gift bags, as style will change according to gender or occasion. You can store the gift in the bag, ready to go, but don't put the tissues in until you are ready for the gift.
Gift ideas can be a reasonably priced bottle of red or white wine. Stay with the basic popular brands, as this gift will need to meet many palates. An electric wine bottle opener is a good idea for the wine enthusiast.
Fill a gift bag with themed items; such as a small inexpensive holiday serving plate, with holiday towel, oven mitts and such. Try home or work, novelty office supplies...this is an endless idea! A snack theme such as dried fruit, nuts, chocolates and other treats makes a great "any person" holiday gift.
A hat, scarf and mitten set for male, female or teen...
A candle and accessories, or a holiday decorative trinket such as a bowl, plate, candy dish or jewelry tray.
Lastly, perhaps homemade items such as an ornament, a hanging or even a loaf of sweet bread or holiday cookies, sprinkled with small wrapped chocolates and candies, and then wrapped in red or green plastic wrap and topped with a bow!
The list is endless, you decide!
New York Christmas
Day Trips from Connecticut
Holiday Day Trips from Connecticut
Although families flock to stores and malls to shop, they find equal time for fun and frolic to celebrate the Christmas season in many other ways. Many people enjoy walking through the nearby New York City, with all its lights and animated street exhibitions.
There is always something to see, from the lights of the city, to the skating in Rockefeller Center and presentation of the famous lite Christmas tree. You can even mingle with the stars with Madame Tusseaud’s rich and famous statures. I posed with Bruce and even practiced my ‘aspired spiel’ to Steven Spielberg on a film contract for my first book!
A White Christmas In Connecticut!
The best way to avoid the hustle and bustle is to just curl up on the couch or big armchair with a mug of hot cocoa by the fire and watch one of the many holiday movies that air this time of the season. My favorites are "While You Were Sleeping," "White Christmas," and "Christmas in Connecticut!"