What Can We Say?

Somehow my planned witty (?) remark about the Mayan calendar seems utterly inappropriate since so many families in Newtown, Connecticut, have just experienced what I imagine must feel like the end of the world. My heart goes out to all who have been touched by this tragedy or by other losses that make family holiday gatherings a whirl of mixed emotions. Many or most of us know what it’s like to have an empty chair at the table, so to speak, even if the loss isn’t as raw as it is for the families of the children and adults who died at Sandy Hook Elementary last week. In the coming days, as last-minute Christmas or Kwanzaa preparations and New Year’s activities make us a little frantic, I hope we will all take time to cut each other some slack and remember to be kind. Yes, even when someone takes your parking space. Maybe we can help reduce the amount of hate in the world.

On a less somber (and preachy) note, there are activities on the Trails of History in the coming week as well. All sites except Washington Crossing are closed on December 25. Some sites will be closed on Christmas Eve, either because they’re open only by appointment until spring or because they’re closed on Mondays. Some sites that are open that day may close early. So, please check ahead to avoid disappointment (the same goes for New Year’s Eve).

Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, photo by Cindy Reedy, via Facebook

Tomorrow is Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum’s Old Fashioned Children’s Christmas from 10 am to 3 pm. Activities and projects will be centered on this year’s gingerbread theme. No registration is needed and the activities are included in regular admission (which is free for members of Landis Valley Associates). Next week, on Dec. 27 and 28, the site will offer its popular Winter Day Camp for kids age 5-11. Registration is required and there are discounts for LVA members and for multi-day registrations (go here for details).

At Washington Crossing Historic Park, reenactors will step into the Durham boats at approximately 1 pm on Christmas Day to commemorate the night of Dec. 25, 1776, when George Washington and his troops crossed the icy Delaware River to mount an attack on British and Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey. This year is the 60th anniversary of the Crossing reenactment, which also features speeches and readings related to the American Revolution. The event is free and happens rain or shine (river conditions will determine the actual launch of the boats).

Ephrata Cloister Student Historians, 2011, via Facebook
Ephrata Cloister’s Lantern Tours (Dec. 26-29) are a wonderful way to experience the site and learn some of the history of the celibate sisters and brothers, as well as the other community members who worshipped with them. The presentations feature junior and senior high school students who work with site staff on this annual event. This year's program focuses on the winter of 1769, when a property dispute divided the community. Tours start from the visitor center on the half hour, 6:30 to 8 pm. You’ll need tickets for this program (Ephrata Cloister Associates and members of the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation receive discounted admission). Call 717/733-6600 to reserve your spot.

Young children and their families can ring in 2013 a little early at the State Museum of Pennsylvania's Noon Year's Eve program on Dec. 27 from 10 am to noon. This year the focus is on the arts, and activities will be available throughtout the museum. Families will gather in Memorial Hall at noon to see the Museum's large firefly drop, along with lots of balloons. The program is included in regular museum admission; reservations are not needed. Go here for more info.


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