Editor’s Note by Kathleen Fleury
I’m slightly obsessed with holiday decorations, so we often have two Christmas trees at my house. The smaller one goes in the corner of our kitchen. It’s fair game for the kids’ ornaments, colored lights, candy canes, and any other atroci—
Er, I mean, cheerful decorations.
The second tree is all mine. It’s more than 10 feet high, and it goes in the family room, which has a cathedral ceiling (our first Christmas in the house, it took several hours to figure out how to rig it up safely). Last year, I allowed only crystal, gold, and red ornaments.
The two trees, however much they delight me, present a conundrum when it comes to gifts, and one recent Christmas they taught us a lesson I won’t soon forget. That morning, Santa’s gifts appeared beneath the tree in the kitchen. The kids descended the stairs and were enchanted with their stockings and the presents they’d been coveting for months. It was a storybook Christmas morning, complete with
delicious homemade crepes and doting grandparents.
But I should have known something was amiss when we had to “take a break” from opening presents. More presents — from mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and other family — waited under the second tree. By the time we were done, wrapping paper was everywhere, everyone was exhausted, and though it remained a lovely morning, I had the unsettling feeling that we’d gone overboard.
So many of us get caught up in the consumerism that accompanies the holidays that sometimes we mistake quantity for quality. That’s why we asked Amanda Blake Soule — mother of five, editor of Taproot magazine, and the author of several books on family creativity — to show us how to make our own holiday gifts. “DIY Maine Gifts” features five Maine-themed projects suitable for all levels of craftiness. They’re fun to make, affordable, and, most important, they’ll be heartfelt.
We know you can’t make everything yourself, which is why we’ve opened our new Down East Shop, offering a selection of quality gifts handcrafted by Maine artisans. It’s a great place to find something unique for the Maine-lover in your life while supporting the craftspeople who make our state so special. Visit shop.downeast.com to learn more about the products and the people behind them.
This year, we’ll be doing things a little differently at my house. We’ll still have two trees, but the gifts under them will be fewer and more thoughtful. And instead of a second round of gift unwrapping, we’ll head outdoors together for a family hike in the Camden Hills.
Happy holidays from all of us here at Down East!
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Where in Maine?
North by East
Opinions, Advisories, and Musings from the Length and Breadth of Maine
It’s a Long Ski to the Top
Down East Dispatches
News You May Have Missed
Colby’s New World Series Stash
Who Owns Maine’s Beaches?
Living the Maine Life
Making It in Maine
Room With a View
What to Do in Maine This Month
From Our Archives
On the cover: A winter road in Easton, by Paul Cyr
Additional photos: Stables at Horse Island Camp, an equine rescue center and youth camp on Peaks Island, by Greta Rybus, Séan Alonzo Harris; Rachel Sieben; Douglas Merriam; Chris Siefken