December 2017

Down East Magazine December 2017 Cover

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Editor’s Note by Kathleen Fleury
[accordion] [item title=”Expand To Read”]Ed note
[dropcap letter=”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 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!

Kathleen Fleury

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Peaks Season

For the 900 or so year-round residents of Peaks Island, winter is a time to embrace the quiet, the cold, and the community.

By Mira Ptacin

DIY Maine Gifts

Why not leave a little Maine in someone’s stocking this year? Our craft maven has five family-friendly projects, all inspired by the Pine Tree State.

By Amanda Blake Soule

Is Tom Deschenes the Next Milton Bradley?

Quest for the Antidote, the Portland game designer’s new fantasy board game, has players dicing with death.

By Brian Kevin


Where in Maine?


The Mail

North by East

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

King of the Mountain

It’s a Long Ski to the Top

Down East Dispatches

News You May Have Missed

Off-Season Acquisitions

Colby’s New World Series Stash

Low-Water Mark

Who Owns Maine’s Beaches?


Living the Maine Life


A Modern Classic in Paris Hill

Making It in Maine

HistoryIT Opens the Archives


Braised Lamb Riblets

My Maine

Winter’s Bloom

Room With a View


What to Do in Maine This Month


Kennebunkport’s Musette


Hanukkah Hootenanny

Holiday Happenings

The Ultimate Yuletide Guide

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

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