Christmas Charm at Elveden

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How do you go about procuring your Christmas tree? Usually, getting a tree is the first ritual for us in celebrating the Christmas season. But I’ll be honest with you– most trees I’ve had have come from a huge selection at a K-Mart parking lot. Nothing too romantic about it, that’s for sure. Last year, we had a series of disappointments when it came to getting one, and in the end we stopped at a garden center, at the end of our wits after a very long day, and settled for a rather sad one that was ridiculously overpriced. Sigh… This year, however, we wanted to do it right. We went to the Elveden Estate.Not only did they have a huge variety and great selection of trees, but there was plenty of merriment there to be enjoyed.Picking the perfect tree was really fun, and the part that had really gotten me to go there came next. After bagging the tree, we waited in line for a super-special delivery service:There was a brigade of Newfoundland hounds there, pulling the trees to our cars in carts. They were doing this for donations to a local rescue. You know I love these dogs, right?  So does Amelia. Mocha was helping our family out today– what a sweetheart! After we got our tree and spent some time with Mocha, it was time for a little more fun. Donkeys! Pretty Christmas-y, right?Amelia rode Barney, and loved every minute of it.

Next, it was off to Santa’s Grotto. There were elves there to show us how to find that jolly fellow.This whole Santa thing is pretty new for our family, so this was Amelia’s first time to meet him and put in her requests. Talk about thrilling!She also received a little pine sapling and a small gift. She was a very happy girl.

After all of this excitement, we were ready for a warm meal. There is a nice cafe on the property, where we had lunch, and then browsed some little shops.

What a wonderful way to start the Christmas season!

I’ll be taking the next few days off to relax, enjoy my family, and think about Christmas. I know it’s a more somber holiday this year for many of us, but I wish you peace, joy, and sweet times of reflection and enjoyment.

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13 Responses to Christmas Charm at Elveden

  1. Robin December 22, 2012 at 12:28 am #

    What a lovely way to get a tree! I’m determined to go to a farm to pick ours next year. This year we, between rainstorms, dashed to a lot and rather quickly got one. Definitely a farm trip next year.

    • Ariana Mullins December 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Yes, we never did a farm trip in the USA, and I’m not sure why! Portland would have been the perfect place to find a good one.

  2. Great Aunt Gretchen December 22, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    What a wonderful adventure, delight & fun time! Sounds lovely!!

    • Ariana Mullins December 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Oh, it was fun! Surprisingly, the tree itself was quite a bit cheaper than the inferior one from the year before, so it felt like we were really getting away with something this time. 🙂

  3. Hazel December 22, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    We get our tree from a local farm shop, but I know my 3 would want to drive 3 hours to Elveden to get it delivered by a Newfoundland!
    Love the donkeys; my son is called Barney, so good choice! (He shares his name with a lot of animals, mostly chocolate labradors…)

    I wasn’t reading your blog last year, so I’ve just read your entry about Santa. It’s definitely Father Christmas in this house, rather than Santa, it feels different somehow. More restrained and slightly separated from the Hollywood hoopla around Santa Claus. He does visit, but he certainly doesn’t bring all the gifts.
    I have friends who have him bring all the presents, including those that family have bought, but personally I want my children to say thank you to the people who went to the effort of buying them something!
    As a child, once I realised the truth I appreciated all the effort my mum had put into our stockings over the years and I figure my children will do/are doing the same. And what makes me smile every year is the fact that the two who know still show us the contents of their stockings as if it’s going to be a genuine surprise!
    I did have moments of wondering whether to tell my children the truth when they were younger, but actually they just sort of absorb the whole myth and it’s hard to break the magic. I think very few children see it as being lied to; I think they appreciate that sense of magic and what was done to preserve it.
    We have tailored it to suit us though- Father Christmas will not bring things that he knows I won’t approve of, even if he brings them to your friends!
    Merry Christmas! x

    • Ariana Mullins December 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Hazel, I really appreciate your thoughts on the whole Santa/ Father Christmas scenario. I agree about wanting Amelia to thank the persons who actually got the gifts for her. I think the magic does really add something– so much suspense over whether Father Christmas will come or not, preparing the snacks, etc. I liked hearing that your kids, when they found out, just felt that it was something you did to give them a special experience.
      And I laughed about FC not bringing gifts you wouldn’t approve of– I had a few long talks about Father Christmas not bringing her make-up.
      Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  4. Anonymous December 22, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Thank you for this post! I was feeling all Bah Humbug about the season but your story and Amelia’s excitement really touched me. Keep up the good work and enjoy the holiday!
    Kim

    • Ariana Mullins December 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      Oh, so glad to hear this cheered you up, Kim! I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

  5. Courtney @ The Polivka Family December 23, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    How lovely! Those dogs are something else! Sounds like a wonderful time. 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins December 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

      Aren’t they so great? I love them! They look like friendly little bears, and are so low-key and sweet.

  6. Marisa December 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    This is absolutely Delightful – with a capital D! What a wonderful and magical experience for Amelia. A lovely dog pulling her tree, a friendly donkey named Barney and a Christmas grotto located through a forest of trees. I can’t think of anything much more perfect 🙂 I’m sure this will be something Amelia will always remember! And I have to say I am so glad you are letting Amelia lead the way with regard to Santa. To me Santa is not a lie – he is real because Santa is the spirit of giving. He is simply a representation of our generosity as human beings. At least that is what I was taught and have always believed. Merry Christmas!! xoxoxo

    • Ariana Mullins December 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      I like your take on Santa, as being a personification of generosity. I just never had him as part of my childhood, so it’s hard to feel like it’s appropriate. It’s interesting how children can take you in different directions than you ever expected, and of course the cross-cultural element of living in different countries and the local traditions makes it that much more interesting and fun!
      I hope you had a really sweet Christmas, Marisa!

  7. Anonymous January 2, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Hi Ariana, So lovely to read about your experiences at Elveden. I will pass your comments on to everyone who was working over Christmas here, as they will all be delighted to read how much their efforts were appreciated. Would it be at all possible to use any of your photographs for our future Christmas promotions? It’s so difficult to capture the magical family spirit of Elveden at Christmas and you have really done it! If so, please email me at [email protected]. Thanks so much for your kind words. Best wishes for 2013, Frances

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