Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol was published on 19 December 1843. The first edition sold out and by the end of 1844 thirteen editions had been released. It would probably be impossible to calculate the number of copies of the novella that have been published since 1844, not to mention the number of stage performances and readings. This year A Christmas Carol has opened on Broadway traveling to New York from London’s Old Vic Theater. The production includes Christmas carols and promises one will leave the performance filled with the spirit of the season. Dicken’s insightful story was inspired by his visit to a Field Lane Ragged School one of several establishments that housed London's street children.

Since Thanksgiving was late this year probably most of us will spend the weekend decorating our homes for Christmas. This usually involves pulling down boxes of lights and ornaments and moving furniture to make room for the Christmas tree. Traditions that are a way to transfer the customs and beliefs of one generation to another. Like Dickens during the holiday season we reflect on the past, the present and the future. Where we have been, where are now and what we hope for the year to come …

Food plays an important role in our holiday traditions, with the scents of cooking and baking filling the room and conjuring up memories of the past. Prescott Farms in Laconia has been offering a series of holiday workshops so you can make your own gifts: cheese, soap, wreaths, bread and soup. The classes are now sold out, but you might make a note for next year as they are small and intimate groups. I’ve certainly made a note in my 2020 diary.

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving I attended the Prescott Farm bread baking workshop. Eight of us spent the afternoon making a no-knead bread and learning how the recipe can be adapted for the holidays by adding nuts, spices or cranberries. The setting, the original farmhouse kitchen at the Prescott Farm overlooking the fields and mountains, perfectly sets the mood. By the end of the afternoon, as we pulled our loaves from the oven, the kitchen was filled with the warmth from the oven and the scent from the baking bread. We had all made new friends and enjoyed the spirit of community.

On Monday I took a late morning walk through the town of Franklin. As I stopped by the shops on Main Street I learned about the plans for the community and look forward to watching as the transformation continues. When it was time for lunch, I sat at a small table in the window of the Franklin Studio, enjoying a classic tuna melt served on When Pigs Fly honey oat bread. Through the café one can enter a shop that offers things made in New Hampshire.

Our traditions are connected with a sense of place. It’s impossible to stop by all of the craft and Christmas fairs at local churches. To attend the many musical performances in the local theaters. To have as many small shops managed by local people that entice us with special gifts. We are fortunate to live in a place where this is still possible.

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Elizabeth Howard is an author and journalist. Her books include: Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited (Easton Studio Press, 2016), A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R. Godine, 2015), Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, (Thornwillow Press, 2011). You can send her a note at: Elizabeth@laconiadailysun.com

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