The Magic of Christmas Past

 by Anne Fairchild, Eastern Region Program Manager for the Indiana State Museum

It’s not really a secret that this time of year is special for me. Not only is it the sweet smell of cider and the crisp cool air, but my memories from childhood of jumping in large colorful piles of leaves, and the realization that the holidays are upon us. It’s time for sugar cookies, spiced eggnog, time to primp, polish, and prepare to dazzle. The Lanier Mansion has to be absolutely beautiful because we are a very large part of a longstanding holiday tradition in this community.

That’s right. It’s time for the annual Night Before Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes. Thousands of people descend upon Madison from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana for this favorite holiday tradition. Each year, the Lanier Mansion is among the selected outstanding historic private homes and museums to open their door and be the face of Christmas Cheer in Madison. It is very fulfilling to see families returning year after year to soak in the fine architectural details and beautiful décor with continued amazement and awe. Candlelight Tour of Homes is happening Nov. 26, 27, Dec. 3 and 4.

For the last four years, the Lanier Mansion has taken its holiday decorating in an exciting new direction. Instead of offering the same old over-the-top fare you see everywhere, the Lanier Mansion is offering a truly authentic glimpse of an early Victorian Christmas. We are proud of the fact that our holiday décor is much more in keeping with the kind of holiday that Charles Dickens would have witnessed. We have on display some of the very same toys that children would have found under their Christmas tree in 1850.

The best part of this time of year is that it is a time where the staff here can get their batteries re-charged, so to speak. We can talk to people who enjoy the subtle changes we’ve made through the year, and truly appreciate the grandeur of this old home. It is delightful to see so many people enjoying the fruits of our labor. It fills us with the Christmas Spirit!

In addition we have a Victorian Christmas experience for younger children as well. Spirit of Christmas Past is Dec. 11 from 2 to 4 p.m. and will include a Victorian Santa, storytelling, light refreshments and a craft. For more information go to indianamuseum.org/lanier.

Whitewater Canal: A Rockwell Christmas?

www.indianamuseum.org/sites

Joe Konz's "Whitewater Canal at Night"

The Historic Sites take on a very different ambiance during the holidays. Decorations, lights and, of course, our friendly staffers … all combine to make it such a wonderful time of year! Apparently our visitors feel the same way. Rather than ME tell you how great we think Whitewater Canal is during the holidays, why don’t you check out the words and beautiful photos of someone who recently visited …

Click here and thanks, Joe, for sharing!

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What Gift Would You Give?

Indianamuseum.org

Nick is serious about giving Santa his pacifiers

This little guy, Nick, pictured on the right, gave what, from a 3-year-old’s perspective, is the ultimate gift. See that Ziploc he’s clutching? It is full of all of his pacifiers … symbols of babyhood, true comfort, and yes, a baby’s oral fixation. To Nick, they were his most prized possessions. And that is what he gave to Santa. It was a trade-off, actually. In return, Nick is to get an extra-special gift on Christmas morning, as a reward for his sacrifice. He also passed a milestone in growing up … and a Christmas at the Indiana State Museum that he will never forget!

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Santa is in the House

Santa Claus arrived yesterday via helicopter to the front lawn of the Indiana State Museum, much to the delight of the hundreds of onlookers who braved the cold temperatures.  All went off without a hitch with the DNR pilot landing the ‘copter safely, off-loading Mr. and Mrs. Claus and Raggedy Ann, and sticking around long enough to allow families the opportunity to check the vehicle out before he flew off to other adventures.

From now through Dec. 24 Santa and the Mrs. will be in their cozy house in Celebration Crossing at the museum, where children can visit with him and also ride the Santa Claus Express, see Peewinkle’s Puppets and enjoy the splendor of the season at the museum.  Be sure to come visit and also make reservations for the Family New Year’s Eve celebration, Tea with Mrs. Claus and Holiday Breakfast with Santa.  Call 317.232.1637 for reservations.

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Fluffing Christmas Trees!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at the Indiana State Museum. Did you know we will soon have 41 Christmas trees in the O’Bannon Great Hall and another 30-something in the Celebration Crossing exhibit? 

Imagine yourself the weekend after Thanksgiving, hauling out the box with your artificial tree, matching up the EE limbs or the blue ones, fitting it all together as you fluff out each and every branch (sneezing from the dust!), and then stringing lights (half of which don’t work … drat!), and THEN trying to make sure the tree is vertically straight … and the ornaments are even on both sides, etc. 

Wellllllll … that’s what our army of volunteers does here at the museum! These wonderful people “fluff” each of those 70+ trees, string them with lights and add realistic snow. Then, our own staffers, using the ReachMaster 95 hydraulic lift, take the trees to the very heights of the Great Hall, and place them carefully amongst dangling snowflakes, skiiers, mountains of snow and the like.

And VOILA! It’s holiday time at the museum! Celebration Crossing starts on Nov. 27 with Santa’s arrival by helicopter! That means just 38 more shopping days until Christmas …

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