You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why,
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why,
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
When visitors look around at the inn, they will find that even the walls decide it’s the Christmas season. There is cheer in the Gathering Room, asking you to “believe” in the magic. There are Christmas plates, fabric quiltings, and a Santa tapestry.
But some of our favorite seasonal wall decorating is accomplished with print material. If you have been to a wonderful Christmas attraction making a collage of photos can not only add Christmas spirit to your decorations, but you’ll also have your memories of that experience close to sight and heart. These are some of our favorite photos from Longwood Gardens at Christmas time. Longwood Gardens is open year round and is located near Philadelphia, PA.Another favorite is a series of prints from an original 1950′s story book given to good little children who sat on Santa Claus’ lap in Pomeroy’s Department Store in Reading. It is depicting “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.Of course there is always a unique treasure that we hold dear. In our case it’s a picture made by our grandchildren, with those little hands and feet.
Songs are written about the Christmas tree. Decorating seems to be centered about the tree. Most times it’s the first and maybe the only decoration in the living quarters. The Christmas tree is often the topic of conversation around the holiday season. “Did you get your tree yet?”, “Did you put up your tree?” Many traditions are centered around the tree; Santa Claus comes and decorates the tree, every year there is a different theme, the ornaments are all handmade, the youngest child puts the star on top, and on and on they go. I’m sure you have your tree traditions, and so does the James Manning House, starting with a decorated tree in every room.
Today we’ll start with a few of the themed trees, and the rule is decorated, size is immaterial.Let’s start our tour in the kitchen. What is more appropriate in a kitchen that bakes over a thousand cookies for Christmas? A tree decorated with cookie cutters and a Santa Claus or two.
Outside the windows the Christmas snow has fallen and the birds are busy flitting around the feeders. Not much is more beautiful than a bright red cardinal against the white snow, and what fun to watch the little chickadees flying in and out collecting one seed at a time. The next tree brings the birds and snow inside adding warmth to the winter decor.
Our last tree to admire today is the Santa tree. Adorned with over 75 Santa Claus ornaments this Alpine pencil tree is a favorite puzzle to search for all the classic and whimsical ways that the jolly elf can be created. Candy shaped, Santa on the beach, a star shaped Santa, Santa created from a brush, Santa gone fishing, Santa made from a star fish, and there are so many more. You will have to visit just to find them all.
We do like to see Christmas Villages, and lighted houses as we drive around the countryside, but with a 198 year old house, our outdoors will not be entered in the Great Christmas Light Fight. Our front door is welcoming with wreath and greens. The front is simply lit with flood lights, and the windows adorned with ribbons and greens, much in the way of yesteryear.
Bells and greens decorate the sign and lamps of entry, while Santa Claus flies nearby in his sleigh. Another whimsical sight guests see on arrival, is Santa giving Mrs. Claus a kiss underneath the mistletoe.
Christmas trees from inside don’t have to retire at our B&B, they just become a member of the lighted grove around the driveway. Although the trees are not real, the birds find cover and the cats enjoy a new playground among the lower branches. When the December Christmas snows are falling, these trees create a winter wonderland.
Today Mother Nature gave me the best starting point for twelve days of Christmas decorating. You can’t beat the real thing, and now that the ground is covered, lights twinkle brighter, beauty glows stronger, and spirits are happier. It is December and winter is here; “Let It SNOW!”
Our open house has come and gone, but not everyone had a chance to stop by. Some live to far, lives are busy this time of year, and we understand all the interruptions, so I thought I’d take some time to give you a peak around our Holiday House. Each day I’ll pick a different theme and an explanation about the decorating “James Manning House” style. Follow along and I hope it helps to get you or keep you in the holiday spirit.
Remember back to the days of your youth? Holidays were a time that we simply loved. What made it so endearing? I think it was the memories we created, the warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside. Are we taking time to recreate those memories, and make new ones for our children and grandchildren? Living in a small town, I think my family is lucky to have the opportunity to slow down and have the experience of old fashioned holiday spirit.
Our town, Honesdale, has a wonderful weekend they like to call “Honesdale for the Holidays”. Stores are decked out in their holiday spirit and many stores and businesses will host “Open Houses” with seasonal warmth for their shoppers and visitors. Christmas music rings from the town pavilion making the shopping merry as vendors dot the sidewalks with their wares. The high school choir and Victorian strollers walk main street for all to enjoy. All the while the Stourbridge Line train will be blowing its whistle inviting young and old to hop on the train and take a ride with Santa and some elves, trains and Christmas it doesn’t get any better. As the sun sets and the decorations light up the streets the sidewalks crowd as the little ones get ready for Santa to come to town. What a festive spirit as the parade marches by, ending with the “big guy” himself. The people follow the parade into Honesdale’s Central Park and activities continue. Led by Rudolph and Frosty songs are sung and the star on Irving Cliff brightens the horizon for another holiday season. Children visit with Santa and everyone enjoys hot chocolate and a wonderful small town America. For more information: http://www.visithonesdalepa.com/honesdale-event/1526/
We, at the James Manning House, love to keep this Holiday Americana feeling going, and that’s why we invite everyone to a Holiday Open House. This spirit spills out into our little village of Bethany in another event we call “Christmas in the Village”. This year we are celebrating, Saturday, December 2, from 2-4 PM. At the inn we will have the Honesdale High School Chamber Choir delighting us with Christmas songs and carols. Our friend and author of three books, Will Wyckoff, will be here signing books and chatting with visitors. The house will shine in all its holiday splendor and we delight in showing visitors all around and share with holiday cheer. Of course, the kitchen has been busy for days ahead of this event and a huge platter of homemade cookies will be available for tasting. Bethany Public Library joins in the fun with an appearance of Mrs. Claus who helps children write letters to Santa. They enjoy stories and hot chocolate, too. Bethany Methodist Church will also be hosting visitors in the holiday spirit. Bethany Village invites everyone to stop by for their tree lighting and a Tricky Tray raffle. For more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1499957440086260/
We hope that you can take some time and visit us to enjoy the little things that make us appreciate the wonders of the season. But most of all start some of your own traditions and sweet memories will be yours.
December finds the inn to be bustling with holiday preparations. Cookies have been baking and the decorating almost finished in anticipation for our annual Open House. This year we will be once again hosting the local high school Chamber Choir to sing Christmas Carols. Our friend and author, Will Wyckoff, will be on hand to sign his books, including the new “Slow Fire Burning”. We certainly enjoy this time of year and the warmth we receive from those who stop by to wish Season’s Greetings.
After that excitement is over, there is still time to enjoy the building anticipation for the “big day”. Traveling guests will find smiles and wonderful baked goods for breakfast, because we just feel like kids again this time of year. And speaking of kids, as most of you know we are grandparents to four adorable grandchildren (yes, that’s grandparent talk!). It sure will be fun when they gather for Christmas day!
It’s easy to forget that winter is just around the corner, with cold, snow and short days, with December ushering in the season. We’re hoping for a snow cover this year so everyone can enjoy the wonderful outdoor sports. There are lots of activities to enjoy in the area, skiing, sledding, skating, ice fishing, snowshoes, how about a good old-fashioned snowball fight? We’ve already had a few inches for some snowman building. For those of you who don’t like to be outside, just bring along a good book the fire’s toasty warm!
Tradition #4 Deck the Halls! If you have visited us during December you know we like Christmas and decorating the inn might just be an understatement. It’s the time of year when we all get out our special, once-a-year treasures; our family ornaments, fine china, and other types of festive decorations. At the James Manning House you will find a bit of merriment in every room.
Welcome to each guest room and enjoy a jolly little tree. Perhaps you will remember some of the vintage ornaments and dream of Christmases past. Twinkling lights adorn the staircase adding a warm glow to the hall. Did you see the old Shiny Brite glass ornaments hanging from the greens? The living room tree sparkles with antique ornaments of all sizes and shapes, indents and mercury, beaded and Venetian dew. Some of these are from Germany and some from the early 20th century. This is my favorite of nine decorated trees in the house. I enjoy seeing all those beautiful colors, and fourth generation hand-me-downs. I hope they survive several more generations giving joy to the holiday season for years to come.
When I think of our Christmas heirlooms my mind is focused on a very special Nativity Set. This set has beautifully hand-painted ceramic figures. The three wise men and camel even have some gold trim and jewels. What really makes this crèche special to me is the story. My aunt glazed and fired all the pieces and gave the set to my parents as a wedding gift in 1946. The pieces are still in mint condition and I have set them up every year to tell the story of the birth of the Christ child since I was a young girl.
Entering the house you will encounter that magical belief; “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. And another Santa Claus and another, and another, in fact three years ago there were at least 350! (Of course none disappeared and more are added and I don’t think it’s cheating to count the ornaments on the Santa tree.) Some are elaborately dressed, some made of wood, or metal, or glass, mink, beeswax, and so many more combinations. There are some dressed in red, or green, there’s even a purple Claus. I can’t imagine just how this special elf started to fill our rooms but now the tradition is there and there always seems to be a place to display a new addition.
Tradition #2 C is for Cookies! That’s right there are a few cookie monsters that live around here. We’ve been enjoying baking (and eating) cookies as a family for a very long time. I think every family has their traditions when it comes to the sweets. I know I have very happy memories of helping my parents cutting out sugar cookies then sprinkling colored sugar on the frosting my mother spread over those tender morsels. The whole time Perry Como was crooning out the Christmas melodies on the record player. So tasty were some of those cookie recipes that they need to be made again and again each year. Then when my favorites were joined together with Warren’s fond favorites that also had to be made the list of recipes kept growing. As my daughters’ started their families they of course made their favorites, or even more fun we might get together to bake. This is especially true with the sandtarts, those wonderfully buttery thin delights that only my daughter can roll to perfection. Now there’s Pintrest and more recipes to try, but the favorites can’t be forgotten, so the list of cookie types that must be made just keeps growing, and growing. Dare I say, so do the waistlines during the holidays! So what is your favorite cookie? See if it’s on our list, I’m always game for trying the recipes of others just send it our way. This year our cookie platters include: Frosted Sugar Cookies, Sandtarts, Chocolate Tassies, Butter Spritz Cookies, Raspberry Danish, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Squares, Oatmeal Jam-Up Cookies, Peanut Butter Cups, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Macaroons, Apricot Foldovers, Chocolate Chip, Candy Cane Cookies, Red Velvet Ooey-gooey Cookies, Chocolate Mint Pinwheels, Cinnamon Bun Cookies, Gingerdoodles, Snowman Shortbread, and German Springerle.
It’s that time of year again, everyone hustling around, busy, busy, busy. I thought I would that the last few days to talk about some traditions around the inn, and slow the pace if only for a short time. Traditions are the memories, warm and cozy, of the Christmas of our youth. They are the passing of time and the passing of life. I hope you enjoy hearing about some of the things we enjoy and hope you are busy making traditions of your own.
Tradition #1 is Crafted with love. During December the innkeepers can be found taking some time from the cleaning and cooking to make things homemade; Warren in his workshop and Janet crafting cards. These traditions started many years ago when money was tight and children were small. Warren loved to make wooden toys and our children loved to play with the wonderful trucks, trains and moving animals their father crafted. Now Grandpa is very proud and excited that our nine year old grandson is showing an interest and working on a pull toy puppy for his little sister. In the past he has helped his Grandpa with some hammering and a bit of painting, but this year he has been working with some machines and doing the project himself, with guidance and teaching from Grandpa. I guess that teaching spirit is just like riding a bike, never forgotten. It’s wonderful to see the bond that is building over sandpaper and paint. Meanwhile after the cookie baking and Christmas Open House, Janet will get to work crafting and stamping the Christmas greeting cards to send to family and friends. She feels it’s one way to relax and keep the stress out of the holiday planning.