Friday, November 30, 2007
Shop locally for the holidays
I've just returned from a Thanksgiving celebration with our family in Green Valley, Newlin Township, Pennsylvania. The focus of the meal, orchestrated by my daughter-in-law Jenna Webster, was eating locally, using ingredients from foods grown or processed within a 50-mile radius of Green Valley. This got me to thinking about going one step further during the upcoming holiday season — giving gifts purchased and produced locally.
Eating locally for Thanksgiving not only reduced our carbon footprint, but it was pleasurable selecting seasonal foods from known local sources. We did bring three pounds of Great Brook Farm cranberries with us on the train to Philadelphia and commuter rail to Newlin Township — they were "local" for us here in Carlisle and of course, since they traveled with us, left no carbon footprint.
But getting back to giving holiday gifts purchased close to home, let me mention three events taking place this weekend which are definitely local and where handcrafted gifts and seasonal foods and decorations may be purchased — the Winter Market at Emerson Umbrella in Concord; the Holiday Greens Sale and Craft Fair at the First Religious Society in Carlisle, and the Christmas Fair at the Carlisle Congregational Church.
Opening today, from 1 to 7 p.m., is the Emerson Umbrella's Winter Market, located at 40 Stow Street in Concord. Resident artists, artists from the Carlisle Highland Building, and 16 guest artists will be offering a wide variety of fine arts and crafts for holiday gift-giving. Winter Market will be open on Saturday, December 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, December 2, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
On Saturday, December 1, here in Carlisle, both the First Religious Society and the Congregational Church, located a short distance away from one another on School Street, will hold their annual fairs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. I can't think of a better way to start the holiday season than stopping by at both locations to pick up decorated wreaths for the front door, a handcrafted gift for a mother-in-law, and taking time off for a lunch of homemade soup or a snack with a friend you just met around the corner at the table selling Gingerbread House kits.
Attending Holiday Fairs here in Carlisle in early December is much like going to the Carlisle Farmers Market on a Saturday morning in August — there is a wonderful array of items to be purchased from local gardeners, as well as an opportunity to greet friends and neighbors that we don't often get to see. And shopping here at home or in nearby towns at Christmastime certainly beats the long drive it takes to shop at an impersonal, crowded, suburban mall where many of the items for sale were made many thousands of miles away.
So after eating locally on Thanksgiving Day, I'm ready this year to expand that attitude to include shopping locally for holiday gifts.
I've always loved "Something's Coming" from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. It's all about the anticipation that something wonderful is about to happen. It's the same feeling I have about life in Carlisle.
Is it my imagination, or is life in Carlisle becoming even better? I continue to be amazed that so many people give so unsparingly as volunteers to keep the town running. I continue to be amazed that so many highly talented and very interesting people live here. I continue to be amazed that our kids do so well, and do good as well. And I continue to be amazed at the increasing variety of activities available to all of us; they render hollow the accusations that Carlisle is "Lonelyville." Maybe it's just the time of year. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's. But I don't think so. It's not just about tradition, nostalgia and community. It seems to me that it is also about energy, and I see it being released in a variety of new ways.
1. Witness what we've seen Robin Emerson and Larry Bearfield do for the community at Ferns. Sundays on the Piazza have been entertaining, informative and fun. How special is it that they've been named Massachusetts Retailer of the Year?
2. Then there are the wonderful jam sessions at the FRS Coffeehouse. Dian Cuccinello and her stalwart group of volunteers have brought outstanding talent to these Saturday night spectaculars.
3. "Pumpkins on the Green" was a great success, thanks to Carol Nathan and the Carlisle Garden Club. Volunteers from several organizations provided lots of opportunities for fun for both kids and adults.
4. The Council on Aging outreach programs just keep growing, thanks to Angela Smith and her crew of volunteers, who've been very busy with new programs. Anyone for Vienna next March? How about the exercise program, wonderful luncheons and new health-related services?
5. The dedication of the new Carlisle Center Park provided an oasis this summer. Sabrina Perry dreamed it up and persevered to make it a reality. She single-handedly made it happen, then nursed it to good health by coming each morning and hand- watering every new plant. Talk about energy!
We have the Farmer's Market, the Savoyards, the Cambridge Early Music Society, the Opera Program at the Library, the Carlisle Schools' Auction, the Strawberry Festival, Memorial Day Luncheon, Harvest Fair and Greens Sale at FRS. To cap it off, we have Old Home Day, which gets better every year, thanks again to Florence and Dave Reed and a cast of thousands. And by next summer, walking paths will tie everything together!
I hope that, with all we enjoy, and all the energy being released by and for each of us, we'll rise to the occasion and continue to float all the boats in town. Tim Hult, his fellow Selectmen, and the FinCom have been preparing us for stressful times ahead. I worry that a sense of "us vs. them" could develop around the needs of seniors vs. the needs of the schools, that people will view it as a zero sum game with winners and losers at the next Town Meeting. I hope that won't happen. I believe we can reach a critical mass of new, positive energy. Can you feel it, too? "Something's comin', I don't know what it is, but it is, gonna be great. The air is hummin', and something great is comin'!"
Forum staff writers are elected by the board of directors of Carlisle Communications, Inc., publisher of the Mosquito, to provide independent commentary on matters they believe will be of interest to Carlisle citizens.
© 2007 The