Tis the season yet again. Oh yes, I do mean final exams. Year in and year out, I find myself getting excited about the new season, the snow, seeing friends and family and having a bit of time to relax, but instead I am stuck with my head in a 42 pound text book. Well, right now I can’t focus on biology or geomorphology or anything else. All I can think about is a very special Christmas at a place very dear to me.
This summer at Tuscarora, we had Christmas in July. It started out as a little spark of an idea and then slowly transformed into a very, merry and magical day.
One day while sitting around, probably after dinner or over the lunch break, some of us on staff kicked around this little “Secret Santa” idea just for fun. Then we added that we could have “Christmas in July”. Well, by the end of June, everyone had drawn their special someone, and in addition to being a secret gift exchange, the gifts had to be handmade from materials found at Tusc. Well, a few weeks went by and we kept ourselves busy because we were, well, busy. The date was approaching at full speed (I can’t recall exactly when it was—sometime around July 26th I believe). Everyone was bustling about after their daily shifts. The shop always had a light on and people were running around trying to find materials and hide their half-finished presents.
Everyone started whispering this and that’s about what they were making or who they thought might have them. We were giddy. The whole thing reminded me of those long nights before Santa would come—not being able to fall asleep and wondering what was going to come the next morning.
With a few days left before the big day a chimney appeared on the front porch of the staff cabin. Soon there was a “fire” (made out of colored paper and a fan for a flame effect), and even stockings hung on the chimney with care
People took on other little projects of their own as well—lefse making, cookie baking, handmade decorations, even gingerbread tents. Chef Justin prepared a spectacular holiday dinner and everyone put on their Sunday bests. I remember it being quite a strange sight at Tuscarora to see everyone all spiffed up, but we were! The table was set with cookies and candies, flowers and decorations, and the buffet spread featured a holiday roast, mashed potatoes and gravy,
and green beans.
Everyone came in and we took turns opening our stockings which were filled with outfitting candy.
Then we all enjoyed the holiday meal and even played a little Ahrendt family game. (We all choose a “famous person”, wrote their name down, and then had to match the person to their famous person. It was a really fun game, and I think I’m going to try it out at my family’s Christmas this year. ) And then, after stockings, and dinner came the really, really exciting part of Christmas.
Everyone loves presents, right?!
One by one we took turns opening our gifts. We started with Dano since he is the youngest. His secret gift came from Andrew—a book that was borrowed long ago. Then Andrew opened his. Andrew got bread. Dano baked him three, homemade loaves of delicious bread.
I know that everyone loved their gifts and enjoyed making them, too, but there was something far more special about this day then the presents. I have tried to write about the feeling, warmth and overall magic of this day, but I just can not seem to convey it all on paper. We all laughed and shared stories, and even sang and danced while doing the dishes. It honestly felt like coming home and being with family for the holidays. So here I sit with Christmas and winter break soon in sight, and I am thinking about this very special Christmas in July.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. I hope you too get to create your own memories this holiday season and remember those from seasons passed.