Christmas

Capturing the Magic

Photo by Jim Poston

Renowned Middleburg Life photographer Jim Poston captured the essence of the annual Middleburg Christmas Parade once again on Dec. 1. Poston’s iconic Middleburg Parade snow shot can be seen throughout the town.

The official parade photographer has shared many of those shots on the pages of this magazine through the years. Poston’s work graces the walls of businesses, the halls of schools and on the pages of publications.

Enjoy a special collection of his 2018 parade shots!

The History of Yuletide & Its Most Iconic Cake

Story, Recipe and Photos by Kaitlin Hill

With towering, bauble-bearing trees, gleaming multi-colored string lights, a sparkling dusting of snow and Bing Crosby’s velvety voice on every channel, the Christmas season is an undeniably magical time. Though these days the meaning of Christmas is sometimes lost in a pile of presents, a look at the holiday’s most iconic cake, the Yule Log, reveals a celebration centered on faith and festive food.

Tracing the Yule Log, or as the French say, the Bûche de Noël’s roots leads to the very foundation of Christmas, a relatively modern Christian holiday inspired by elements pulled from Pagan predecessors and Norse mythology. Centuries before the birth of Christ, the winter solstice was initially a celebration of longer days and more sunlight. This period, also known as Yule, typically spanned from Dec. 21 until early January and was recognized by bountiful feasts and warming bonfires.

In Europe and Scandinavia, cattle were killed in winter due to limited access to grain. As such, fresh meat, typically a rarity, was available in abundance and consumed throughout the season. Additionally, wine and beer in process often reached the final days of fermentation in mid-winter, making Yuletide an ideal time to celebrate. Spiritual aspects were at play, too. Animals were offered as sacrifices, and parties were thrown to honor the Norse god, Odin, known to Germanic Pagans as Jolnir.

Yule was also characterized by frequent bonfires, which again had both practical and nonmaterial applications, and is where the Yule Log tradition gets its start. Burning logs not only provided warmth in the bitter cold, but was believed to have non-secular significance as well. Norse mythology considered it a fertility ritual, each spark representing new livestock to be born. The people of Babylonia, observing Akitu, torched wooden effigies to ward off evil.

As Christianity spread, the wintertime custom of timber incineration—along with other B.C. beliefs—was absorbed into Christmas. Europeans living in the Middle Ages lit logs for the twelve days of the holiday to ensure good luck. In Medieval England, landlords were gifted firewood by their tenants. As long as the log blazed, the landlord provided the tenant’s meals.

Yule Logs increasingly became objects surrounded by superstition. It was thought that placing the ashes from the previous year’s log under the bed protected the house from lightning strikes, and couples that wrapped cloth around trunks, which they then set ablaze, believed the flame-broken bands predicted their marriage timelines.

These days, though Christmas has largely shifted from spiritual to secular and homes are fitted with thermostats and central heating, the tradition lives on in the form of a cake that perfectly represents a heritage of feasting and fire. Believed to be of French origin, the delicate sponge cake was first referenced in The English Huswife by Gervase Markham, published in London in 1623.

Some 300 years later, Francophile Julia Child popularized the cylindrical cake in American households with a 1965 episode of “The French Chef.” Hers was a classic: sponge cake filled and topped with chocolate buttercream and adorned with meringue mushrooms. Even more recently, Cronut™ creator Dominique Ansel premiered his unique take, a raspberry and rose Bûche de Noël, at his bakery in Japan. He reinvents his recipe annually with unusual flavors and cutting-edge design, while still paying homage to the centuries-old technique.

Locally, one can find traditional and contemporary Yule cakes made by Jason Reaves, pastry chef at the Salamander Resort and Spa. “The one we sell at the market is a traditional Bûche de Noël cake. It’s a chocolate roulade cake, rolled up with whipped cream or Chantilly cream filling on the inside. Then we do chocolate buttercream on the outside and comb it to look like a Yule Log, decorate it with meringue mushrooms, little leaves and different things.” He continues, “We do a more modern take on Bûche de Noël for the entire month of December on our menu at Harriman’s…we call it a two-person dessert; but in actuality, it serves three or four.” This more current rendition has, “dark chocolate mousse layered with almond joconde sponge, exotic fruit mousse and raspberry gelée. The Bûche will be finished with a decorative glaze, dark chocolate, freeze dried raspberries and gold leaf.” He even does mini Bûche de Noëls for holiday banquets.

If you are unable to stop by Market Salamander or Salamander Resort and Spa to purchase one of Chef Reaves’s Christmas cake masterpieces this year, you can always make your own. Though the final product may have you convinced it’s a daunting dessert, Reaves says, “The traditional Yule log is actually pretty easy to do.” He adds, “…it’s meant to look a little bit rustic, like a log, so the frosting doesn’t need to be perfect.”

Whether you’re hoping to fend off sinister spirits or flex your culinary creativity, make Bûche de Noël a part of your Christmas festivities. It just may become your new favorite, or at least most delicious, tradition. As Julia Childs says, “The thing that’s good about the Yule Log is that after decorating and trimming it, you can sit down and eat it too. And that’s more than you can say for a Christmas tree.”

Ingredients:
For the cake:
8 eggs
½ cup of granulated sugar
½ cup of cake flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
For the Whipped Cream:
1 pint of heavy cream, cold
1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Buttercream:
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
5 ounces of dark chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Mint leaves and cranberries for garnish

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 jellyroll pan with parchment paper and lightly grease it.
Separate the eggs, reserving both the whites and yolks in separate bowls.To make the cake batter, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl.
Stir in the vanilla. Mix together the cake flour and baking powder.
Add the dry ingredients into the eggs and sugar, whisking to combine.
In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form.  This will take about five to six minutes. Add one third of the egg whites into the cake batter and fold in with a spatula. 
Add the remaining egg whites into the cake batter and fold in gently, being careful not to deflate the egg whites, while making sure they are completely incorporated.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.Bake for ten minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another ten minutes.The cake is done when it has browned around the edges, springs back to the touch and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. While the cake is still warm, turn it out onto a clean dishtowel that has been generously dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Starting with the long side, roll the cake into a cylinder. Set aside to cool completely.While the cake cools, make the whipped cream filling. In a large bowl,
beat the cream on medium-high speed using a hand or stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
As the cream begins to thicken, add the confectioners sugar slowly. Follow with the vanilla.
Continue to beat for another four to five minutes until the whipped cream is stiff enough to spread. Set aside.
Unroll the cooled cake onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Spread the whipped cream filling all over the cake and then reroll it, again starting on a long side.Tightly wrap the cake in the plastic wrap on which it is sitting, and transfer to the refrigerator to set up for at least an hour or overnight. While the cake firms up, make the buttercream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, cream the butter while slowly adding the confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. When all the confectioners’ sugar is added, pour in the cooled chocolate and mix to incorporate. Finish with the vanilla. Remove the cake from the refrigerator.
To make the branch, cut off about three inches from one end on a diagonal. Place it about half way down the center of the log. Adhere the branch with chocolate frosting. To decorate, slather the entire cake in chocolate frosting using an offset spatula. Drag the spatula through the frosting to make a rough bark-like texture all over. Decorate with mint leaves, fresh cranberries and a dusting of powdered sugar snow. Serve immediately!

 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

Hanging History: The Official White House Christmas Ornaments

Story by Kaitlin Hill | Photos by Randy Litzinger

The tradition of decorating Christmas trees can often turn into a walk down memory lane, with each ornament acting as a ghost of Christmases past. Since ornaments are often given as gifts, the markers of special occasions or, sometimes embarrassing, reminders of now-grown children’s elementary artistic pursuits, they hold their own unique histories and serve as jolly juggernauts of nostalgia. Add string lights, weaving ribbon or twinkling tinsel, and the finished fir can tell the intimate story of a family, a new couple or a set of lifelong friends.

As Americans, our shared history is boldly and beautifully told across the country, and right here in Middleburg, on towering trees and magnificent mantels that are bedecked in Official White House Christmas Ornaments. For local Nancy Novak McMahon, the ornaments are both patriotic and personal. She orders multiples each year and has the entire collection—all 37—which she displays every Christmas. She received her first as a gift from a co-worker after moving to Virginia from Chicago.

The first White House Christmas Ornament, a two-dimensional golden angel with outstretched wings and a festive horn, was released in 1981. It bears a simple inscription, “Christmas 1981. The White House.”

“I had a new co-worker who, the first Christmas that we worked together, as a kind of welcome to the Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. area, gave me the White House Christmas Ornament, which I had never even known existed.” She continues, “I just thought it was the neatest thing and every year for eight or ten years, she always gave me an ornament as my Christmas present.” To Nancy, the ornament is special because of its ties to the Washington region and friends she made while living here.

Even since moving to Middleburg, McMahon carries on ritual by buying one for herself, and giving them as gifts, too. She even sends two as far as Holland, one to a close friend and the other to her friend’s in-laws, who recently downsized.

The White House Historical Association’s 2018 White House Christmas Ornament honors President Harry S. Truman. This ornament is designed to illustrate three significant changes made by him during his administration, one to the Presidential Seal, and two to the White House itself.

“They let me know, the ornaments made the cut…the [current] ornament is still up every year and has a place of honor in their new apartment.” They watch for McMahon’s package with the newly released ornament each year. She laughs, “It’s quite the tradition.”The ornaments started as part of an outreach initiative by the White House Historical Association (WHHA). Founded by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, the non-profit and purposefully non-partisan association was created as a means to educate Americans about the rich history of the White House. Twenty years and six presidents later, including her husband Ronald, former first lady Nancy Reagan launched the White House Ornaments as a continuation of Kennedy’s focus on historical preservation and education.

The first ornament was released in 1981, a two-dimensional golden angel with outstretched wings and a festive horn. It bears a simple inscription, “Christmas 1981. The White House.” Over the years, the ornaments became more elaborate, including colors, three-dimensional designs and even moving pieces.

In 1984, the fourth ornament is the first to depict a president’s face. Thomas Jefferson sits regally in a circle of gold, called “Jefferson’s Medal of Peace.” And in 1987, the first touches of color are added—evergreen wreaths with Christmas red ribbons adorn the “White House Doors.” The 1999 Lincoln-inspired collectible is a golden book inlaid with a pensive looking Honest Abe that even opens. The portrait was painted by George Healy and still hangs in the State Dining Room.

The 2007 White House Christmas ornament honors the first administration of President Grover Cleveland.

Not only do these annually revealed Christmas treasures showcase specific presidents, but they also capture moments in time and executive mansion memories that may have been forgotten. The 2016 edition is a gleaming red and gold miniature representation of the fire trucks that responded to the 1929 Christmas Eve blaze at the White House during a children’s gathering. Herbert Hoover, who was president at the time, invited the same children back the following year and presented them all with toy versions of the red engine as a keepsake.Each year, a new designer is selected to conceptualize the ornament. Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association says, “Over the years we have used various sources of design. We have had a competition among professional designers, a competition among design school students and we have used the design team at the manufacturer of our ornaments in Rhode Island.” He adds, “From time to time we even receive an unsolicited design.”

The process of choosing a design is collaborative. “We talk it through as a staff and with members of our board of directors and react to several designs,” McLaurin said. Sometimes the WHHA even asks artists to team up. “Occasionally, we will like a couple things from one design and a couple of things from another design and we will ask those designers to work together.”

As for selecting which president to feature each year, that decision was made long ago. “Fortunately for us, back in the Reagan administration when the idea was first presented to Mrs. Reagan to do a Christmas ornament, the decision was made then that we would feature a different president each year and we would do it sequentially.” He continues, “It started with Washington and we have now worked our way up to Harry Truman. That takes the politics out of it, that takes any favoritism out of it when we know that the next year, it’s the next president.”

The 2003 White House Christmas Ornament honors President Ulysses S. Grant and his family.

As McLaurin mentioned, 2018’s ornament honors Harry S. Truman, and highlights the renovations he made to the White House while in office. The front of this delicate white and gold ornament features the Truman Balcony added between 1947 and 1948. On the flipside, you’ll find The Blue Room, complete with an extravagantly decorated Christmas tree. Perhaps the most significant of Truman-era changes is seen in the Presidential Seal. Prior to Truman’s presidency, the American eagle’s gaze focused on instruments of war clutched in his left talon. Truman shifted the eagle’s focus to its right talon, which grasp olive branches of peace.Once a concept is selected, ChemArt, a veteran-owned small business—the same manufacturer that has produced every ornament from the start—is trusted to bring the vision to life. McLaurin says, “They have worked with us since the ornament started. They know us. They know the ornaments.”

Customers know the ornaments, too. And as McLaurin tells it, collectors are often eager to purchase the next in line. “There is a big excitement about what the ornament is going to be.” He adds, “Once you start collecting, you have the one the next year. Even more than that, once you start giving them as gifts, the recipient expects to receive one next year.”  Tracking down the ornaments is easily done, and if you happen to miss a year, don’t worry. The entire collection is available for order on the White House Historical Association’s website; shop.whitehousehistory.org.

The Christmas Sleigh in Middleburg is one of the only shops in Virginia to carry the entire collection. “We are the largest supplier of this ornament in Virginia. We carry the entire series and we have them in stock all the time,” said Linda Tripp Rausch, who owns the Christmas Sleigh with her husband, Dieter Rausch. They are one of the store’s most popular sellers, and it is not difficult to understand why. In fact, the store had to reorder before Thanksgiving. “People are getting something that is unique, it’s historic, it’s a collectible and the proceeds go to a cause,” McLaurin said.

Their philanthropic nature reflects the holiday season’s focus on giving, but moreover, the ornaments themselves are manifestations of the true American spirit. A spirit that is undeniably patriotic, built by veterans and loved by both sides of the aisle. They speak to the class, elegance and majesty associated with the White House, and remind us of those who have come before us to make this Christmas, and those that follow, possible.

 

Lighting up the Night for All to See

Photos by Randy Litzinger

Joyce Mullins, owner of Mullwyck Manor in Upperville, Virginia, shares her love of Christmas with her friends, her family and even strangers. Joyce graciously offered her home, Mullwyck Manor, as the backdrop for this month’s cover shot. Although her home already featured three Christmas trees and decorations in every room, she offered her den as the backdrop for our Hunt Country Christmas tree which was designed and decorated by Linda Tripp Rausch and Diane Spreadbury of the Christmas Sleigh in Middleburg.The Christmas tree features two complete sets of collectible White House Ornaments, a nod to our nation’s history and our close proximity to Washington, D.C. However, what’s under the tree makes it distinctly Hunt Country. Look closely. The hostess went room to room and gathered her personal treasures to help get that perfect Hunt Country feel. She even added two of her own wrapped gifts alongside the beautifully decorated ones Linda designed and brought for the shoot.

Mullins, along with her son, Rick, creates her own spectacular decoration display that takes a week to put up and tear down for friends, neighbors and strangers to enjoy each year. Most notably, Rick decorates their pond every Christmas with dazzling lights that can be seen from the road. She gives him full creative liberty with the pond. “He just goes wild,” she says.Each year, the Christmas light elf tries to up the ante as he knows passersby are excited to see the latest installment. “It’s to make people smile as they go to and from work. Even when I am putting it up, they beep and wave. They expect it.”

If you happen to drive through Upperville as the sun goes down, be sure to keep an eye out for Mullwyck Manor. This seasonal spectacle is one of the community’s favorite traditions and is not to be missed.

 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.

fill your home with evergreeN

Story and photos by Ashley Bommer Singh

This is the month to grab your clippers and bring everything inside. Greens, berried branches, mistletoe, magnolia leaves, conifers – forget the gardens and fill your home with wintergreen. Before she wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter made paintings and cards of rabbits dancing around a Christmas piper with holly decking the walls. To capture some of that wild merriment, I fill garland with lights, drop paperwhite bulbs in vases, and buy poinsettias. And we always cut down a Christmas tree.

Tree cutting is an adventure. One year, my father who was visiting picked a tree so large it took four people to lift it. Another year, on Christmas eve, we trudged up the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains with out National Forest Service permit in hand, huffed and puffed to drag our tree down through the snow. The tree made the cabin smell like a fairytale. No matter the journey, a freshly cut tree brings magic and memories.

Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm is one of Virginia’s oldest and largest choose-and-cut farms. Once a working farm with cattle, beans and corn, the land was repurposed in the early 1980s when owners Frans Kok and Mary Shirley bought the property. They planted trees on the abandoned fields to turn the land around and today, there are than 70,000 trees and seedlings on the 100 plus acres.

This Piedmont treasure is an engine of evergreen spirit drawing families come from across the region.
Kok greets visitors in a jolly red suit when not answering the farm phone that plays Jingle Bells. Tree hunters better act fast. Even though there are 2,500 trees to choose from, the owners say they may run out well before Christmas Eve. Unlike a tree on your own farm or field, these trees have been pruned, shaped and tended to year-round. Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm Manager Denny Clatterbuck and Kok plant close to 6,000 saplings every year to keep up with demand. They started with white pines 30 years ago, but now grow Douglas, Fraser and white firs and Norway and Blue spruces. They are experimenting with Korean and Serbian firs.The most iconic Christmas tree, the magnificent Norway spruce, can drop its needles all at once – a disaster if shed before Christmas. They are a prickly triumph with the right care. Rockefeller Center chose a 72-foot, 75-year-old Norway Spruce this year to great fanfare. Tips: Make a ½ inch fresh cut before bringing inside. Water quickly and regularly to keep them going.

Some people tie plastic bags around the trunks on the drive home to prevent them from drying out. Blue spruces go on forever with no hassle, but they don’t have that scent. White pines are native to Virginia and were once the tree of choice with long cones, pale green needles and smooth bark. The firs give a home that smell of pine and citrus. We never know what we will choose until we spot the perfect one.

Buying local helps Virginia farmers who provide tens of thousands of seasonal jobs and provide sanctuaries for wildlife. Farmers plant thousands of seedlings each year with hopes of seeing a profit in a decade all the while dealing with floods, drought, disease and insects. Middleburg Christmas Tree farm is full of redwing blackbirds, blue birds, owls, foxes and cooper’s hawks. Two bald eagles visit every season.

Kok estimates that more than 70% of trees in homes are now artificial, which is crushing to farmers and the environment. Fake trees, almost all from China, crowd the market. Live Christmas trees are a renewable resource and serve as a carbon sink while growing. A tree can be turned into mulch. Rockefeller Center’s giant Norway spruce will be milled into lumber and donated to Habitat for Humanity for housing.

Poinsettias are also the stars in our holiday decorating. Diana Owens at Abernethy & Spencer Greenhouses has been growing thousands of these beauties from cuttings annually for more than 40 years. The cuttings arrive unrooted from Guatemala in March and she plants each by hand.This year she planted 6,000. They grow in 70-degree glass greenhouses, are watered daily, and the leaves start to turn red after October’s full moon. One cutting has 3-5 flowers, so if you buy a 7-inch pot with three plants, you can expect 9-15 blooms. Because they are grown naturally, homeowners can expect four flowering months if the plant is watered three times a week and kept in natural light.

Poinsettias are known as “Noche Bueno” in Mexico because they achieve peak bloom on Christmas Eve. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S Ambassador to Mexico, noticed them growing in the countryside and sent cuttings home to South Carolina in 1828. Mix up the poinsettias decorating with paperwhites, Christmas cactus, cyclamen, and amaryllis. Then, put a roast in the oven, maybe some Yorkshire pudding, add Beatrix’s holly to the wall, and dance around with the ones you love this December.


The Middleburg Christmas Tree Farm is located at Christmas Tree Ln, Round Hill, VA 20141, and is open Friday thru Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

Mystique Jewelers: Create a List & Check it Twice

By Chelsea Rose Moore

Santa is checking his list twice! Make sure you are checking yours, too.

If you are planning to put jewels under your tree this year, Mystique Jewelry owner Elizabeth Mandros can help. She answered our questions about what to expect from a shopping experience at Mystique Jewelers and the importance of creating a Wish List.

 

ML: If a man walks in and wants to buy his wife a piece of jewelry, what are the three questions you ask him or what are the three things he should know about his wife?

Elizabeth: The first thing I do is try and get to know her style and her lifestyle. What does she do? Where does she work? What does she do during the day? Does she go to lunch with friends? Does she go out to dinner? Then, I get an idea of what she wears. I ask if she likes yellow gold or white gold. I ask about her coloring. Does she have blue eyes or brown eyes. Does she like lots of colors? Gold and diamonds or platinum? Does she like wearing studs or long dangle earrings? The most important question I’ll ask is: Does she have a Wish List here?

If they purchase something from her Wish List, they know she is going to say, “Wow!” It’s definitely going to be perfect. When you create a digital wish list at Mystique, both stores can see it. We put in ring size, birthday, anniversary, and then all the pieces in the store that they like. When we pull up their name, it pulls up the piece and the description of the piece, and it shows if we have it in stock. It can be set up online or through our store, and then emailed to your loved ones.

While you are picking out pieces for your Wish List, we’ll give your jewelry a complimentary clean, and we’ll check to make sure it’s secure. We are a full house goldsmith shop, so we do everything from repairs to custom design to replacing watch batteries.

ML: What is the most popular color gem this season?

Elizabeth: I love blue because I’m blue jean girl. The stone I love is moonstone. I just feel like you can wear it more often. I wear a nice dressy piece and wear it casually with my jeans and my shirt. I get dressed up every once in a while, and it changes the whole look when you’ve got a black dress on.

You must wear your jewelry or redesign it, so it becomes something you wear again, especially if it’s an heirloom piece. Let’s say you have pieces you wear every day. I can help you with layering and change the length of the necklaces, which changes the whole look.

ML: What are your upcoming December events?

Elizabeth: One of my favorite designers is Jude Frances because the pieces are so versatile. We have a Jude Frances Trunk Show on Dec. 7 in Middleburg and Dec. 8 in Alexandria. The shows are really great because you can try so many pieces on, and add things to your Wish List. Every guest will receive a bag of gifts, including a little dish made by Jude Frances, a travel pouch, and a coffee cup that says, “When I was a little girl I used to collect rocks. Now that I’m a big girl, I still collect rocks.”

RSVP to mystique@mystiquejewelers.com and let them know which show you’ll be attending. All registered guests will receive a goodie bag, and will receive 10% off the day of the show.

 

Mystique Jewelers is located at 112 W Washington St., Middleburg and 123 S. Fairfax St., Alexandria. The Middleburg store hours are Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday 12-4 p.m.

This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of Middleburg Life. 

70 Years of Giving: Christmas Shop Returns to the Middleburg Community Center

By Erin Bozdan | Photos Courtesy of Linda Wine

Christmas is a joyous time of year where love, kindness and the spirit of giving fills our hearts. The Christmas Shop, launched in 1948 by the ladies of Emmanuel Church in Middleburg, has embodied that spirit for 70 years.

The Christmas Shop has been a beloved staple of the holiday season and an important fundraiser for the community. In the beginning, the ladies would set up shop for a few hours on a Friday night, cook roast beef dinners for their husbands, and encourage them to shop. Now, the magical event encompasses several days and takes in enough funds to help support the church, donate to local charities and assist with the upkeep on the Parish House.

The shop returned to the Middleburg Community Center for the first time in 25 years on Nov. 1. The event is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. On Nov. 4, the Christmas Shop will be open from noon until 5 p.m. More than 25 exhibitors from across the country were invited to showcase their goods. Visitors can find jewelry, fashions, home décor, gourmet foods, toys, and soaps along with other wares and art. Artists Kerry Waters and Barbara Sharp will showcase their studio work.

A look back at the past. The Christmas Shop is open at the Middleburg Community Center until Nov. 4.

A look back at the past. The Christmas Shop is open at the Middleburg Community Center until Nov. 4.

It takes a village to organize the annual endeavor. The Steering Committee for this Christmas village included Linda Wine, John Denegre, Kevin Daly. Mary Anne Gibbons, one of the shops oldest volunteers, heads up sponsorships and outside decorations. Through them and a great many others, the Christmas Shop lives on and the spirit of the original mission which is simply to give back. “It’s all about giving” says Wine. “Most people come the first day and shop for themselves, then they come back the next day to buy for other people. We are raising money so we can give it back out to the community.” Emmanuel’s Treasures, one of the people’s favorites, returns. Each year parishioners go in to their basements, attics, and barns to rediscover fun items to donate. “Everyone loves it because they are finding great things for a steal of a price,” says Wine. “Who doesn’t love a bargain!”

A very unique and special exhibit this year is that of artist Dana Westring’s Neapolitan Nativity scene. For Westring, this has been a 12 year labor of love. The background is that of an Italian village on a hillside with apartments above and shops, bridges and alleyways. Westring adds new figures each year to make an entire an entire village come to life. The crèche can be seen throughout the Christmas season at the Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains.

In addition to fabulous finds, the daily activities include raffles running every two hours, lunch by The Aldie Country Store and a photo op with a Christmas fox. We are in Middleburg after all!

 

This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.

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