A Connecticut Christmas



A Connecticut Christmas

Stepping outside into the crisp December air, you can smell pine needles and wood smoke and hear the distant sound of carolers on another street. You ramble past wreathed saltbox houses, along an icy stream, and over an old stone bridge lit by luminaries. Maybe you are returning from a Christmas Eve party, laughing and joking in the midnight silence, when you stop and stare into your own backyard, awestruck into belief by a herd of antlered deer. 

You are in a special intersection of time and space, somewhere between Salisbury and Stonington, sometime between the day after Thanksgiving and the day after New Year’s. Mistletoe hanging in the foyer or stockings hanging on the mantel are not clichés here; they are real. In fact, this is where many of those clichés were born, where jaded city folk go to find their holiday spirit again. It is a place and time where you might witness the glad arrival of an old friend who moved to Florida to retire, and watch her stop in front of the tree on the village green and burst into tears. 

For a few short weeks, our ears welcome favorite carols that seem incongruous at other times of year. Our actual language changes; suddenly we are wishing strangers good tidings and using words like tinsel, nativity, noel. Time to carry up the cardboard boxes labeled “decorations” from the cellar and go select a tree at a farm, an idea pioneered right here in this state almost a hundred years ago. And before we have a chance to enjoy the season, we are rushing to the mall for that one missing gift. Then it’s time for bed, but wait! Unwrapping one midnight present will surely bring visions of sugarplums. 

A Connecticut Christmas

After a short, restless sleep, we wait eagerly at the top of the stairs for the sprint down together. This might be the year you get your first bicycle or your last mortgage payment, but it is the sharing that matters, the time spent with friends and family, who gather in front of the fire and wait eagerly for the feast. Finally, a goose—an actual goose—comes brown and crisp from the oven. We stuff ourselves with huge plates of ham, deep-dish lasagna, or pierogi. But we’re not done! A nip of mulled wine or hot chocolate is followed by mincemeat pie, gingerbread or a plate of pinwheels, jam thumbprints and snickerdoodles.

Each family has its own favorites—the tradition is to have a tradition. Some are more familiar—sleigh rides through the forest, church plays of a Charles Dickens’ ghost story, and neighbors competing with outrageous light displays. Some are as unique as DNA, like the Santa by Fire Truck, Mystic’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and the Boar’s Head Festival. Hopefully, you will find your own traditions, your own memories, your own magic moments in these pages. Maybe you’ll feel something brimming inside, like the electrical current in the long string of colored bulbs. What is it? A longing for home? Yes, that’s it. But, wonder of wonders, you are already here. 

A version of this article appeared in the December 2017 issue of CTC&G (Connecticut Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: A Connecticut Christmas.

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Christian Rae Studio
Christian Rae Studio, LLC is a multi-disciplinary design firm located in Southport, CT. Since 2010, we have delivered projects representing a broad range of type, scale, and budget considerations. Our combined technical and creative skills enable us to complete each design challenge from conception to final installation. The collaboration between architecture, interiors and lighting design is an approach that results in a holistic and integrated project that is thoughtfully tailored to each site and client.


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Laura Kaehler Architects
Laura Kaehler Architects is an Award Winning Architectural Firm. Along with Laura Kaehler, AIA, we have a talented staff of 5 architects and designers who create new homes, renovations and additions and apartment renovations. Designing a smaller footprint while obtaining a "big look" with an open floor plan design, better craftsmanship and detailing and richer materials is what we call "Responsible Luxury" and is a key element of our design philosophy.

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The team at Davenport Contracting has over 35 years of experience building and renovating homes. Our business model has always been based on building/renovating for a specific customer. A collaborative environment includes the client, architect, interior designer and Davenport crew. Davenport maneuvers effortlessly between custom homes, smaller renovations and property management. The team’s project management skills transfer seamlessly and the goal is to deliver your vision!


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Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC is a full service design firm that specializes in making a client’s home unique and custom tailored to the owners taste and lifestyle. Projects are personally supervised from initial consultation to installation. Strong relationships with carefully selected creative artisans, highly skilled craftsmen and subcontractors ensures that your project will be in good hands. With over 20 years experience working alongside well established design professionals in Connecticut and Manhattan, Fiona Leonard Interiors, LLC was established.Fiona designs interiors with a casual elegance and timeless approach. Inherent in all her work is Fiona’s passion to combine clean lines and an artistic use of color that is comfortable for the client and reflects their personal lifestyle.

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