Starting the Church Fair rounds
New England provides plenty of opportunities for holiday traditions. One of the most familiar for me is going to the various Congregational Church Christmas Fairs with my family. Year after year, seemingly nothing changes. Each is always held at the same time, and you always see the same people.
Opening the same time each year.
My father had a particular soft spot for these events. All through my childhood we would begin, just before Thanksgiving, to make the rounds of five area Congregational Churches.
My father had friends who would also follow this schedule. And though it was never planned, it went without saying that they would always meet at these events, right when the doors opened. It was the only time throughout the year they had contact.
They always met in the same location, near the kitchens. This was where the homemade apple crisp was. The Ladies of the church, who remembered them of course, would fuss over them, keeping their coffee refilled as well as their apple crisp.
The familiar smells of coffee and apple crisp
While my father liked to socialize, my mother and I preferred to make a dash to the various White Elephant tables. I was always on the lookout for old (if not quite antique) glass dishes. When I was younger I used to get so impatient with my mother, who would always take seemingly forever, picking up each piece looking for clues. And as I got older, there has been a pleasant symmetry, and now I donate much more than I buy.
Eliza B. Allez! flats in a Thompson tartan
The different churches have different feels. Some are more relaxed, while the church in my town feels a bit more formal. So this year I broke out a bit of my "Preppy Bling," some Eliza B. shoes that I paired with a Burberry jacket.
Waiting in the courtyard
40 years later, I am still waiting for my mother to be done with the White Elephant tables. But I now am just a little bit less impatient with her.