Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ~Edith Sitwell
Although Thanksgiving Day here in Hermann was a warm and sunny sixty-five degrees – in fact, by the time the turkey was done, the house was so warm we had all the windows open – we know that winter is on its way. Our friends in Haines, Alaska, where my husband and I lived for over twenty years, have already had over eight feet of snow, with more on the way. Needless to say, Mick and I agreed that this Thanksgiving we were thankful that we didn’t have to shovel snow!
Here in mid-Missouri, winter is coming slowly, and we are offered the luxury of easing into another season, rather than having it hit us in the face. There are still a few leaves stubbornly clinging to the Bradford pear trees. All the fallen oak and maple leaves have already turned brown and, for the most part, have blown or been raked away, but the pear tree leaves fall in shades of yellow and burgundy, and some still green, piling up in kaleidoscopic patterns of color – one last shot of autumn.
Every few days we get a new party of Canadian geese landing on the lake in our back yard. We call them “lay-overs” – a brief respite in their journey to a warmer clime. We usually hear them coming in at night, honking their arrival, and I always wonder how they find us in the dark – I imagine an AAA-approved route for geese that points out designated safe zones for overnight stops. Right now we have close to two dozen on the lake – possibly an extended family Thanksgiving break? While we ate our holiday dinner in the sunroom overlooking the lake, the geese glided smugly on the water, almost as though they knew our main course was turkey, and that they were safe to relax and enjoy this beautiful day.
No mention of Black Friday here in Hermann – this weekend does usher in the holiday season, of course, but not with midnight shopping and marketing-induced buying frenzy. The only line in which you’ll find yourself is to get into the popular Christmas music concert at St. Martin’s Church at Starkenburg. Local musicians and singers, including a bell choir, provide this concert free of charge each year, and it has become a greatly anticipated family event over the Thanksgiving break. Even with both afternoon and evening concerts, every seat gets filled, and you’ll see an overflow standing outside the church doors, listening in.
For Hermann residents and visitors, this weekend is more about simple small-town traditions and spending time with family and friends. The annual Lantern Parade takes place Saturday evening with Father Christmas (our friend, Terry) leading the way as families carrying lighted lanterns start the season, just as they did hundreds of years ago in Germany, culminating at the amphitheatre with hot chocolate and caroling. This is how childhood memories are made. And I guarantee that these moments last much longer than any pleasure derived from the latest X-box game.
There’s no doubt that winter brings colder weather and shorter days, making us seek comfort close to home…winter is the time for home.
The Christmas season is a great time to visit Hermann with the entire family, and you can finish off your holiday shopping with a few bottles of local wines! For a full holiday schedule: http://www.visithermann.com/special_events/christmas_schedule.htm.