Our small village (pop. 969) is located in the southern tier of counties in Western New York. When the Interstate highway went through a few years back and made it easier for people to travel to the cities for work, and then not too long after the school merged with a neighboring village—it seemed that our village of Belmont might have lost more than population. People reminisced about holidays in “the old days” when community members came together for programs, fellowship and cheer.
It wasn’t that organizations and individuals didn’t attempt to address the problem.
The Rotary Club tried very hard to build up interest in the community—they provided scholarships for students and helped with holiday decorating—even to the point of sponsoring a Lighting Contest each December. A Belmont Betterment Association member promoted a Snowflake Festival at her Arts Center. The Fire Department held a craft show one weekend, and sold Christmas trees beginning right after Thanksgiving. A Countywide group of artists and friends held a craft and art sale in one of the church halls, and the library held an open house on a Sunday afternoon in December.
And it was at the Library Open House a few years ago that one of the trustees turned to the other and said, “There are all these things going on, but no one seems to know what the other groups are doing.”
And the other trustee said, “Wouldn’t it be great if everything could be done in one Big Weekend?”
And that was the beginning of “Christmas in Belmont”.
No one group is in charge – it’s just that anyone interested in participating meets in the summer and puts forth their ideas and plans. These are gathered up, printed on a flyer, which goes out to neighboring communities, and sent to local newspapers as a press release. This year, red stockings made from corrugated paper were handed out to the participants—and people shopping in those businesses can sign up for a drawing to be held at the end of the weekend. Two lucky people will win either a poinsettia plant (donated by the local florists) or a fresh green wreath (donated by the local landscape nursery).
The Boy Scouts have taken on the Trees in the Park—the village provides and sets up trees in the Park Circle, and community businesses and organizations have the opportunity to decorate one of the trees. I noticed, for example, that this year the Rotary chose “End Polio” as the theme for their tree. Once all the trees are decorated and lit, the Park is encircled with light every evening. It’s just beautiful. The Boy Scouts have a bake sale during the weekend, too.
The Rescue Squad is opening the doors of their building for a basket auction to benefit “Action Angels”, and this will coincide with a Winter Wonderland complete with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, an elf or two, and photo opportunities. Children will receive free books, too.
The group of “Several Artists” will be holding their annual show on Friday and Saturday, and all sorts of carefully, thoughtfully, locally made handcrafts and art will be available—pottery, jewelry, weaving and other fiber art, cards, calendars, [Green Circle Grove] soaps and bags, wood carvings. Perfect gifts for family, stockings, or yourself.
Christmas trees will be available all weekend at the Fire Hall, along with a huge craft sale…that spills over into the American Legion Hall as well. At the Fountain Arts Center, Artisan vendors will have specialty items for sale, “Chef Jim” will be demonstrating how to make a traditional Baja salad, a Christmas cookie contest will be held as well as a workshop on creating a holiday “yard card”.
Hungry? The fireman will have beverages and hot dogs available, there will hot chocolate and homemade doughnuts at the Village Hall, and over at the church on the Park Circle, you can stop in for lunch on Saturday. Just want a cookie and some hot cider? Stop at St. Philip’s Hall and while you’re browsing, you can munch. There will be snacks at the Rescue Squad, too.
And on Saturday afternoon, stop at the Library Open House—where it all began. Take a tour of the clock tower, have another cookie, get a sneak peek at the upstairs renovation project.
Oh, and be sure to tell the Library trustees just what you think about “Christmas in Belmont”. In fact, stop in the drugstore, which will be open especially for the weekend and chat with the pharmacist and tell him, too. And down the street at the hardware, visit with your neighbors—take a walk past the river falls, admire the old fashioned street lights and wreathes, sing some carols, check out the brightly lit homes—maybe, just maybe you’ll find “old time” small village holiday cheer. It’s neighbors working together that makes a community.
Every year, I have big plans for wrapping gifts as soon as they come home—whether it’s from the store or by mail truck. Once again, I have a closet full of bags and a floor covered with boxes. I guess I could say I was waiting to see if the end of the world arrived—but for whatever reason, I’ve delayed as long as possible. Our family will be arriving in just a day or two, and I need to wrap gifts.
I’m a saving, recycling, reusing and repurposing person, particularly when it comes to gift-wrap. I fold up used wrappings and keep bows and bags from year to year. At the end of season clearance sales, I buy wrap, tape and ribbon. This year, I have quite a bit of fabric left over from making stockings and ornaments; I have been thinking how best to use the odd sized pieces. This morning as I began to sort gifts for wrapping—and clear the sewing table to make it into a wrapping table—a possible solution struck me.
I’ve seen several sites and articles in magazines showing fabric wrapped gifts—they’re very pretty, and if I received a fabric wrapped gift, I’d be thrilled! It would be like receiving two gifts, because I’d be thinking of ways to use the fabric, too. I’ll be wrapping packages for small children, though. What I’ve decided to do is make the wrapper part of the gift.
I decided to start with the gift for our 2-year-old granddaughter: a box of wooden blocks. Our little girl likes to carry things around, put things inside other things and take them back out. I’ll make a bag for her to carry her blocks in!
If you have basic sewing skills, you can do this, too. I know, it’s kind of late to add one more task before the holidays this year, but…if you run short of wrapping paper and long on fabric, or if you want to give something that can be used year after year or for another purpose…follow along.
Measure the package you’ll want the bag to contain. I just folded the fabric in half—right sides together– put the box on the fabric and cut, leaving about 3 inches of fabric on each side and at the top.
I have a bag of extra ribbons, grosgrain tape, and seam binding, so I found a coordinating color, measured around the top of the bag and added a few inches and then cut the ribbon.
I pressed the side seams open (you wouldn’t even have to do this), folded and pressed the top edge over, making this fold just slightly wider than the ribbon width. To make it so there will be no raw edges, I turned and pressed the top fold once more, but again, this is optional.
What do you think? Shall I bag up the rest of the gifts, too?
This post is shared with “Happy Holidays at the HomeAcre Hop“.