A FOREST GROWS INSIDE “44” – Christmas Eve 2021

In the very early 1990s I was the lone book dealer at local antique shows. I saw some interesting boxes, and began collecting boxes that “spoke” to me (and I have a collection of books on boxes – of course). Then I started collecting things that look like books, but are not books, serving different functions instead. Cathy and I got real good at finding these items, and we called them “book-likes.” My formal living room looks like a library, but there is not a single book on those shelves. The book has yet to be written about this collectible – on my list to accomplish.

Stays at the Red Lion Inn prompted another collection – and again I probably have one of the largest hoards of Red Lion Inn souvenir items. Cathy and I had a few candlesticks, but after loosing her, this “hopeless romantic” found candlesticks and candelabra speaking to me – and there are over 60 around the house that have spoken to me – “take me home, please, Ray.” And then there are my miniature Christmas Trees – generically known as Bottle Brush trees, but I will not get into that history now. Why these? I believe I know the events in my life that lead to their attraction, but does it really matter? Main thing is I wanted to document and share them with you this Christmas Eve. Many I now leave out year round – they just fit in, and bring me pleasure.

My largest forest is in my kitchen. The trees in the center island come out for the season, lasting often until Valentine’s Day.

Below, in the kitchen, the trees on the mantle now “grow” there year round. The second from the right is really uncommon and unusual with “real faux” fruit on the boughs – not usually seen (well, only such example I have seen). You can see some RLI items here, including the souvenir plates we received during the Millennium Celebration. Below the hearth is an extremely desirable camphor chest (box) that I found a couple years ago in Peru, Vermont. And, those books? Not books, but “book-likes.”

Next, on the top of the pie safe with some of Cathy’s Westies providing protection. On my table in the kitchen on the lazy Susan, that group of trees is new to me. I found them in an antique shop in Bennington a couple weeks ago. The owner said, “they are old, I personally bought them 30 years ago.” Old? What does that then make me? The flanking trees are also new this year, but also “new”

And, onto the porch — well for images – I am awaiting a part for my stove there to enjoy the porch with snow on the ground. The tree in front of the door I keep lit year round. I found this, along with the pedestal it stands on, in an antique shop in eastern Massachusetts several years ago – both “spoke to me.” The other two images – surrounding a model of LADYRABIII are a group of trees I bought about ten years ago at the Sugar Hill Sampler in Sugar Hill, NH. The white trees? Different.

My dining room – and in looking at my images I realized I have not gotten out my special red German Christmas china ware yet, with, yes, green Christmas Trees. Well, something to do tomorrow as a reward to myself.

This is an uncommon music box. See the glass turtle on the left? From my grandmother’s home in the Bronx, this is a candy dish I would raid in the dining room when visiting. It sat on a tea cart, which is just to the left of me now in my “informal” parlor.

Don’t think I have to identify the candle holders, but in the rear is a special anniversary pitcher I got at OSV when I was there on opening day this year on their 75th anniversary. The red house – Sugar Hill Sampler. BUT, do you know the significance of the group of “three pines” on the right? I found this (and the remaining last three for friends) at Christmas Days in Sunderland, Vermont, just two weeks ago. “Three Pines” you ask? Think Louise Penny.

Below is what I am looking at while I am writing this. Throw me anytime in this “briar patch. I can even feel the “warmth of the fire.”

and a close up of the mantel — ironically, I had this image on the screen of my computer when Scott and Betty called saying how much they loved listening to A CHRISTMAS CAROL REDUX as they were driving to their son’s home. See the Airstream under the group of three trees I found as a lot last year at Stone House Antiques in Chester (another important turning point in my life)? Scott and Betty found it and sent it to me last year. The story behind it is on my LADYRABIII pages. See, I found the second owner down south of my Airstream, and she told me it was purchased as a Christmas surprise for her family. She placed an Airstream ornament on their tree, and eventually told her boys that the real thing, now mine, was delivered and in their drive. Betty has a great memory.

and, on 28 December, while in the bookshop, I remembered that I had forgotten to share with you the view I must endure while at my desk there. This tree grows next to the popcorn wagon every day of the year.

There are some additional trees around “44,” but these are my main groupings.

We have all missed much these past almost two years. Friends and I always have enjoyed our special dinners at THE CASTLE in Ludlow, Vermont. But it has been over two years since we have been able to go. A chance call yesterday, a call back thanks to a cancelation, and it was dinner at seven. How special. And a special place to be with your closest friends. Plan a dinner or stay.

the library at The Castle, where in the past we have started our evening with wine around the table in the center.

and this just behind our table

always a festive tree here — a great way to “get in the mood.”

Fezziwig's Ball

Just about done (and the fire is burning down – will have to press rewind). Time to make a special dinner before the Live Nativity just outside “44.” But I would like to remind you to enjoy A CHRISTMAS CAROL REDUX. Click the link on the capitalized title above, and enjoy. I have gotten emails and calls from folks whose sides are aching.

and have a safe and healthy New Year, love, RAY

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4 Responses to A FOREST GROWS INSIDE “44” – Christmas Eve 2021

  1. William Moses says:

    Thank you for this beautiful tour. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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  2. Sue says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Ray! Thank you for all the travel logs!

  3. Betty says:

    What a coincidence we called as you were creating this post!
    Beautiful, festive pictures bring a Christmas warmth to me; thanks so much for sharing!
    By the way, our son, Matt, loved the Christmas Carol Redux! They listened to it while making breakfast on Christmas morning!
    So glad you got out to enjoy a nice meal!

  4. Stacey says:

    A wonderful trip down memory lane, I love the warmth you’ve created and maintained in 44.
    Merry Christmas Ray, love, Stacey

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