December 2015


Editor's Note
Every year, we consider this issue a giant Christmas card and holiday greeting from all of us here at Down East to you, our readers. We like to envision you sitting in front of the fire as you flip through the pages (or swipe through them, as the case may be). We aspire to make you feel like you’re in our living room, catching up with us on the local chatter and goings-on. (Did you know you actually can visit us at our “living room” at our Rockport headquarters? Consider this your invitation to drop by and say hi next time you’re in the neighborhood.)

From festive gifts made right here in Maine to model train enthusiasts, from French pastries in Portland to winter driving tales, this issue has something special for everyone. But beyond the holiday fanfare, the theme you’ll find popping up throughout is one of family. We share memories of Christmas trees past, paying homage to my absolute favorite family activity: the schlepping, the debating, the cutting, and the decorating that is the family-tree acquisition process. Anyone with a kiddo in their life will be excited to read about the production of The Snow Queen (the original Frozen!) coming to Portland this month.

But we also include the kind of family stories that don’t make the Hallmark Christmas cards: messier, more complicated Maine family stories. And yet, my hunch is that even on those pages, you’ll see a bit of your own family. Paul Doiron eloquently pays homage to his Franco heritage and reflects on the generational consequences of assimilation, like the void left by not learning to speak French. (Je voudrais écrire en français, mais mon père n’a pas enseigné à moi non plus. Merci beaucoup, Google Translate!) And Ron Currie Jr. explores his (perhaps) unlikely friendship with his cousin, a relationship that bridges “the two Maines” and two ends of the political spectrum.

This issue isn’t about politics or how many Maines there are, but as this year ends and we look ahead to an election year in 2016, we know the divisive rhetoric here and across the country is likely only to get louder. In his essay, Ron reflects on overcoming such divisions in his own family and how it might have relevance for each of us. “Maybe the first step to a diverse culture that can effectively govern itself,” he writes, “is to chuck political identities altogether and just figure out how to, you know, like each other as human beings, rather than members of opposing tribes.”

Hundreds of thousands of you are reading this as part of our Down East community. And though we may have differences of opinion, our shared love of Maine is something that truly does bring us together. And there’s no better time to celebrate that. — Kathleen Fleury


For some folks, the mere mention of the holidays evokes the romance of the rails — real trains, model trains, toy trains. Let us take you on a ride.

Maine-Made Gifts!

Our annual gift guide is your ticket to stylish, creative, and thoughtful gift-giving — all while supporting Maine’s small businesses and artisans. By Laura Serino

Family Trees

The best part about having a real Christmas tree? Putting your boots on and heading out to find it, of course Photographed by Cara Slifka

My Intractable, Gun-Loving, Anti-Government, Right-Wing Cousin, (Who I Like a Lot)

On a visit back home to central Maine, one writer contemplates “the two Maines,” peace on Earth, and good will towards Ben. By Ron Currie Jr.

See Inside


Where in Maine?

Can you name this pretty park and the town where it’s found?

Editor’s Note

Down East Family

The Mail

What You Said

North by East

Opinions, Advisories, and Musings from the Length and Breadth of Maine

Down East Dispatches

News You May Have Missed

Winter Beaters

It Only Has to Last the Winter

What’s in a Picture

The First Flying Santa


Does Maine Need Coyotes?


Living the Maine Life


A Currier & Ives farmhouse
in Durham

My Maine

Into the Wildwood

Making It in Maine

ReVision Energy

Room With a View

Lingua Franca


What to Do in Maine This Month


Portland Pâtisserie


The Snow Queen vs. Frozen


Liza Rey Butler’s Lullabies


Maine Holiday Event Calendar

From Our Archives

On the cover: Bringing in the Tree, by Cara Slifka



Magazine of Maine, Maine Restaurants, Maine Food, Down East Magazine

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