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Christmas at the Chesser Homestead

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Oh boy, I’m pooped!  A couple of weeks ago we had the Cane Sugar Syrup Boil extravaganza out at the Chesser Homestead, and today was the Christmas at the Chesser Homestead program.  Work hours were altered to accommodate the evening celebration. 

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All of the volunteers and Chesser descendants began work in the late morning to prepare for visitors and activities.  I had yesterday off, but other volunteers cleaned and polished the Homestead from top to bottom.  This morning, the Christmas tree and other decorations were added.  Family members had been baking cookies for three days.  Entrance fees were waved for visitors after 3:00 this afternoon, so people began arriving early before the scheduled 5:30-8:30 celebration time.

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Once the sun went down, things really began to happen.  A large pit had been dug in the sand beyond the front yard for a huge fire.  See those luminaries along the front sidewalk?  My job this afternoon with two helpers was to fold the more than 160 bags to accommodate the sand and candles.  These luminaries lined the winding trail from the parking lot, and surrounded the house.  It added a magical holiday feeling to the evening.

The Chesser ladies once again sang in their beautiful a cappella voices to lead the crowd in Christmas songs.  Free cookies, made from handed down Chesser family recipes, were offered to visitors along with hot apple cider or chocolate milk.  The day turned out to be nice and warm so the mosquitoes had a heyday, but we still ran out of the hot drinks an hour before everything was over.

Besides sitting around the fire and enjoying the singing, you could also take an old fashioned hayride through a portion of the refuge or enjoy visiting the decorated homestead with the glow of the oil lamps the only light.  Children were invited into the kitchen to decorate their own gingerbread girl or boy.  My job was to stamp each child’s hand with a blue goose (symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge system) before they entered the house, and monitor their entry so the helpers inside the kitchen were not overwhelmed with kids.  Needless to say, my fingers are a vibrant blue color this evening that won’t wash off for days!  It was hard to see those little hands with the stamp once the sun went down.  Open-mouthed smile

I told one little boy that it would take three weeks to wash that swan off his hand, and his remark to me was, “Cool!  Hope my mom doesn’t mind!”  Those kids were really proud of their decorating accomplishments.  I only saw one child that ate the result.  The rest protectively carried the cookie with them.

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One of the other volunteers found these two early visitors hiding out in the curl of a leaf in one of the plants in the flower box on the front porch.  Two little tree frogs tucked in one behind the other.  One was silver/grey and the other was bright green.  Cute little buggers.

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It was a long but enjoyable day today.  Seeing the homestead at night gave me a real appreciation for how these folks lived without electricity and everything else we take for granted these days.  Now it’s time to crash.  Goodnight all.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

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