Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving – The Last Pure and Simple Holiday in America

Just before every Thanksgiving we decide on the menu, call relatives and friends and plan a day around sharing – food, laughter and, memories. Not counting the elaborate meal plans, it’s a fairly simple day spent in the company of people that we love.

Oh, there are a few brave souls who decorate for the holiday with horns of plenty and the occasional pilgrim, but compared to its two neighbors on the calendar, (Halloween and Christmas), Thanksgiving is fairly quiet in the consumer-driven market of ghouls, glitz, and over-the-top commercialism.

Maybe it’s because I’m growing older. Or perhaps it’s because I’m just getting tired of lugging decorations down two stories, but I have a growing fondness for this holiday that gets lost at the end of November. In most houses, the day starts out rather nicely watching a parade and enjoying the smells wafting through the house. Then sometime halfway through dinner most folks have decided that there’s too little time left for Christmas shopping--so they’d better start that night and everyone shifts into Christmas warp speed.

But before the Christmas train comes screaming into the station, I’d like to take a moment and ponder just why I like this holiday so much. It’s pure and simple – the way it was so many years ago. And it delivers a gift of thankfulness and a deliberate reason to slow down – even if it is just for one day.

It’s a day that “the English” in Lancaster County spend much the same way as their Amish neighbors - giving thanks and being grateful.

In the past, I’ve made lists of the things for which I was thankful. But I think the bigger picture is the lesson of being grateful in and of itself. And that’s the part of Thanksgiving that we need to carry with us throughout the year.

To be able to count our good fortune is a gift in itself. And perhaps the lesson is that there is always a reason to be thankful. We are so blessed to live in a country where we can control our own destiny, where we have the climate to be able to grow our own food, share with others, give back when we can, to be able to truly care for others and be cared for, and to celebrate that love every day.

So, this Thanksgiving, I hope you take a moment by yourself to sit and enjoy the warmth of the fire or glance out the window and appreciate the beauty of a falling leaf as it floats to the ground and be glad for both – and for the time to slow down and savor not only the tastes of the day, but the sights and sounds as well.

From all of us at The Artist’s Inn, may yours truly be a happy and grateful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Great Places to Shop in Lancaster County (Fifth in a Series)

If you are looking for unique gifts, I suggest you visit this weekend. It’s the start of the bazaar season in Lancaster County. You’ll be able to find locally-made crafts, home-baked goodies, art, jewelry, doll clothes, and great food. But be warned...most folks have to hustle to take them all in. And the locals are up and out early – some of the bazaars open at 7:30.

No need to hit the mall or the outlets. Local folks find the best gifts just around the corner from The Artist’s Inn – you can walk to several of these bazaars that are held in local churches or homes.

Most of all, it’s a great way to support the local community as many of the bazaars help non-profits. So get up early and go – you'll be able to find lots of coffee, hot tea and good eats.

Here’s a partial list of the events. When in doubt of where to go, just follow the signs!

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church – (105 West Main Street in Terre Hill) Offering 15 different kinds of homemade chocolate and great food, including soup “to go” to enjoy later.

Real McCoys Christmas Bazaar – (Held at the home of Doris Weidner, 128 Center Avenue in Terre Hill) – Holiday gift baskets, old-fashioned woolen Christmas stockings, natural ornaments and even dog treats.

Berean Church Bazaar – (407 West Main Street, Terre Hill) – My favorite local Jeweler will be at this one.

Weaverland Auction – On Precast Lane, just outside of Terre Hill. Lots of great crafts, including QUILTS. They usually go for low prices.

Bangor Church - Route 23, Churchtown – This is worth a stop just to take a peek inside this wonderful historic church.

Bergstrasse Evangelical Lutheran Church (9 Hahnstown Rd. in Ephrata) – Their Fair-Trade Fair will feature handmade crafts by artisans from 35 different countries.

Mount Culman Evangelical Congregatoinal Church (1885 Turkey Hill Rd, East Earl) – (just north of Terre Hill on Route 625) – Features local crafts and hot lunches.

The Happy Chapmans – Featuring Folk Art on the Farm – (Route 897 just north of Terre Hill) – Hand-painted signs, especially Christmas items. To read more about the Chapmans, see our previous blog:

Liberty Auxiliary Fire Company – (330 East Main Street, New Holland) – You’ll find candles, Chirstmas ornaments, and handmade baby items and much more.

Annunication Orthodox Church of Lancaster – (64 Hershey Ave. in Lancaster) Greek Food Bazaar – Imported items from Greece, pottery and, best of all.....stuffed grape leaves and other Greek Foods.

Did all that shopping make you hungry? St. Paul’s UCC Church in Bowmansville (just north of Terre Hill at 133 Church St.) will be holding a Corn Pie Supper starting at 3:00 p.m.

Happy shopping!