When I began working on Go Local, I skimmed through previous editor Amber Wakley’s works to see what the magazine was all about. My heart fluttered when I came across her December 2016 feature on Greenleaf Drive in Hampden. Greenleaf is a fond memory of mine that I had somehow forgotten about while caught up in the hubbub of life.
When I was little girl, my parents would take my sister and I on an annual trip down Greenleaf Drive. My mom would pop fresh bags of popcorn while my dad made sure Brittany and I were bundled up and settled into our car. The popcorn sat on our laps and we munched on it in handfuls as we passed through McDonalds for the rare treat of an eggnog-flavored milkshake. After that, straight to the magical street decorated with lights and cutouts of Disney, Peanuts, and Nickelodeon characters. I stared in awe at every scene depicted by the residents of Greenleaf. This tradition is just one of the memories that I cherish as an adult.
I was easily enchanted by Christmas as a child. When I was young, my mother and Auntie Connie told me all about a special elf. His name was Stripety Stripedy. He had the important job of painting the red stripes on all of the candy canes left in the stockings of boys and girls. He lived in Santa’s Workshop, but they told me I could expect him to visit me. From then on, every Christmas season, my mother would set an elf doll in the tree with rosy red cheeks and long, striped legs. Every so often, a small treat would be next to him for me. I thought it was the most magical thing in the world. I couldn’t grasp how he got there all the way from the North Pole, and how cool it was that he left presents.
Although I have grown up, the magical feeling that these memories give me will never be lost. This month, I was lucky to meet four people who keep the Christmas spirit alive. John Dzen of Dzen Tree Farm in South Windsor makes sure every family has the perfect tree at the center of their living room, and that every visitor to his farm joins in on reindeer games. Karen DiClementi of UNICO West Springfield throws an unforgettable Christmas party, and her dedication is astounding. Jessica Vogelgesang at the Wood Memorial Library and Museum in South Windsor helps create a storybook vision of the holidays with the annual Gingerbread Festival. Mary Ann Dietschler volunteers her time in hopes that her handmade holiday decorations can save the lives of children. Hearing each of their stories left me ready to relish in and appreciate the holiday season long after this issue is complete.
No matter which holiday you celebrate, or if you celebrate at all, I wish you and your family abundance, love and light this season. I hope your heart is full, your joy is plenty and that you feel the magic all month long.