A Christmas Tradition(al Post)


I’m not sure how many times something has to happen before it’s a tradition, but Faith and I have been going to Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight event for several years, so I’m calling it. We got lost one time, because we were following the instructions of both Greta and some iPhone-based GPS – Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) leads you to the education center – and we discovered that there is a Thai Restaurant across from the entrance road. The Thai Place has become our landmark destination and our tradition now includes dinner after the tour. I’ve written about this before, which is why I altered the title.

We’ve been to OSV for this event in the rain, in snow and in sub-freezing cold. Last year, the temperature was in single-digits Fahrenheit (minus teens Celsius) and the wind-chill was well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. We stood in line inside the gift shop for 20 minutes to buy a cup of hot chocolate.

This year, the temps were milder, 42°f (5.6°c), and the rain that was in the forecast had been pushed out until after midnight. We toured the Gingerbread House contest, we cast our votes (I took door photos which I will share next December) and we stepped outside to begin our tour at the “Small House.” As always, they were roasting chestnuts over an open fire, and giving samples to the guests, but this year, one of the costumed historians was explaining the sad history of the American Chestnut tree and how it was wiped out by a fungus. The blight began around 1900, and it decimated a forest staple that at one time had accounted for one out of every four trees along the east coast. The period guide repeated a common claim from the 1830s, that stated “a squirrel could travel from Maine to Georgia without touching the ground” – I think Sammy and Smokey would like that

Other historians were making shoes, forming cups on a potter’s wheel, making tin Christmas ornaments, running model trains, telling stories, cooking a turkey, baking shortbread cookies, showing off a Nativity (and other) scenes from a collection that has been 50 years in the making, and offering short religious readings in The Meeting House. Faith and both commented that the event seemed livelier this year. One building that I always enjoy touring, a large barn, had been turned into a refreshment center. They were offering food and drink, so we decided to get our hot chocolates there instead of at the store. There was a good-sized line, but it was moving quickly. We were pleased to find that our hot chocolates could be spiced-up with Bailey’s or Peppermint Schnapps. “Two with Schnapps please.”

We skipped trying to warm ourselves by the bonfire in the green – it just wasn’t necessary, and we skipped visiting the Town House, because beverages are not permitted. We weren’t throwing the cocoa away. We often skip the Law Office when we tour the grounds during the year, because law offices, but during Christmas by Candlelight, the small building is recast as Scrooge & Marley’s Counting House. My favorite stop, well, besides the model trains, was the print shop. The printer explained the press and regaled us with fun facts and odd stories about the economics of living, marrying and raising a family in the 1830s, and the sad facts of dying alone in that time.

In looking at the museum map, I realized that there are still few buildings we haven’t visited. In addition, they have recently reestablished the Cabinet Maker’s Shop on the grounds. I think a warm weather visit will be on this year’s agenda.


  1. The Bailey’s hot choc would have been my choice, and I would have been first in the print shop for sure. It was almost a shame, a scattering of snow didn’t touch down for your pictures. How idyllic it seems from one outside looking in. Squirrels not touching the ground … synical me having been to Georgia in April this year I don’t think that story … well it’s just nuts, then what Squirrel story wouldn’t have a few. Merry Christmas Dan and family🌲

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bailey’s would have been good, but I liked the little tang from the Schnapps. The print shop was fun to visit. The guy explained the vintage press, and how he had set it up for the little job he was printing. I thought I had a picture of him at the press, but I guess I didn’t press the button. I have seen our squirrels go through two or three yards without touching the ground. Maine to Georgia? Yeah, that would be a stretch :-) Thanks for the good wishes, I hope you have the same.


  2. I would have gone for a hot beverage with Schnapps myself. It’s double the warmth, although you probably could have used it last year in the frigid cold.

    Sturbridge is a pretty place and I’m glad that you and Faith are continuing an annual tradition. This type of tradition is important for connection with family and friends and the memories that last forever. It also helps if yummy food is involved!

    Have a wonderful Monday and week, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. I think they will bring back the refreshment station, it looked like it was a huge success. I had never had hot chocolate with schnapps, I think I’d have it again. I like Bailey’s too but it was a good choice to have.

      Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful tradition! The America Chestnut tree saga is a sad one. There is even an American Chestnut Foundation that records trees. I became acquainted with them this year when I registered two at a native garden in Lee, NH, that I work at. They were started from seed by a resident and now stand about 20 feet tall. :-) I would be remiss if I didn’t say your Steelers played a good game last night. They out played and out coached the Patriots and deserved to win. Congrats. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Judy. My wife gave me the link to ACF – Old Sturbridge Village has a crop of grafted American Chestnut trees (I think they are 1/16 Chinese chestnut).

      Faith and I watched the game at her place. It was fun to watch – thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Those guys would be in hog heaven if they had a chestnut tree. Those nuts are huge compared to the peanuts we give them. I can only imagine how fat they would be if they didn’t even have to come down the tree for them.


  4. What a grand tradition! I would have koved the Print Shop and Pottery Kiln too! Can I have mt chocolate with Bailey’s please? Can’t wait to see those gingerbread house doors. What’s this ‘nexr December’ business? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • The doors are for next December because this Thursday is a best of 2018 doors and we’re taking (Norm is) next Thursday off.

      I love the print shop. I’ve never been there when the kiln has been fired, but I hope to see that at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love touring Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight with you and Faith. You two have such an incredible father/daughter love connection. I think you should host some ‘How To’ classes on this subject. I think attendance would be overwhelming!

    Photos are so great. Makes me feel like I’m there with you. Nice. Wonderful tradition you and Faith have created. What wonderful memories you both have stored up.

    Thanks for taking us along. I just love these tours I can do from my recliner wearing my toasty warm jammies. 😂😂
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ginger. We do enjoy this evening each year. I’m sure we won’t always be able to fit it in, but it has been fun.Mother Nature gave us a welcome break this year.

      You might want to sip some cocoa in that recliner, maybe a touch of Bailey’s :-)


  6. I drooled over this post. OSV is terrific, one of my favorite places, yet I have never been there over Christmas time. This was such a treat. A big thank you for a photo for me – who knew Charlotte’s Web would be there? And my favorite photo is the window with 12 over 12 panes. Sigh! Thank you, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jennie. As soon as I saw the Charlotte’s Web display, I thought, “I have to snag a picture for Jennie.” It’s funny how the connections you make cause you to see things differently. The window in the law office turned counting house is pretty. I’m glad you enjoyed this.

      I would encourage you to visit during Christmas by Candlelight. It’s a very special way to see OSV.

      (not a paid spokesperson)

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome, Dan. I’m so glad you snagged that photo. I really love the connections we make, because they do cause us to see things we may have missed. Yes, I love that window. And I will put OSV during Christmas at candlelight on my must do list. Many thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I have only read you a few years, but to me, this is already a tradition you share. I’m glad you’re making it an official thing. It looks wonderful. I would go :) Glad you take us, cause that’s a long drive for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I don’t think I’d make the drive from Indy. It’s an hour for us, and some years it seems like too much.

      When I searched my previous posts to see what pictures I had already used, I realized I already had one called “Christmas Tradition.” Good to know I’m consistent.


    • Oh my, not-below-50 would severely curtail winter activity here. A group of us walk for coffee each morning (weather permitting) it’s 22f today, but winds are 10-20 mph and one person texted saying he’s “stopping on the way in – not walking.” We usually walk if it’s 20 or better.


  8. What a wonderful tradition! … and with spiked hot chocolate! I haven’t had Baileys in hot chocolate for years. Now I wonder why I stopped.
    This post has me thinking that the various pioneer villages in this area also likely have a Christmas theme at this time of year. It is such a busy time with so many interesting activities to take part in, it’s a shame that we don’t see even a fraction of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing your tradition, Dan. I remember visiting Old Sturbridge Village with school groups when I was growing up in Medford, a suburb of Boston. Wow, that was a long time ago. I really like the way that you were able to capture the lighting in so many of your shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Wonderful tradition, Dan! Thanks for sharing it with us. Of course, this is what I miss living out west. New England cities has some all time favorite seasonal traditions. Great photos! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 🎄📚Christine

    Liked by 1 person

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