OK. Okaaaay! I confess! I’m an absolute sucker for sappy, highly predictable, romantic Hallmark movies that make their way on to my usually cerebral TV screen every major holiday. Yes, it’s true… and Christmastime is the worse! Caught up in the season, I knowingly and willingly arm myself with a box of tissues and a cozy afghan to indulge in an evening of tear jerking holiday sappiness.
It was on such an evening that I got caught up in the story of a quintessential small-town slice of Americana, straight off an old fashioned Christmas card. So foreign it was from my big city life; but my Google-ing fingers soon discovered that this place really and truly existed! Thrilled, I made reservations for my hubby and I to spend the weekend in this seemingly foreign and fascinating place.
It did not disappoint, not one little bit! Built in the 1800’s at the beginning of the California Gold Rush, this was a town that clearly has embraced its Victorian heritage. It is so dedicated to preserving every gingerbread detail to the point that I just knew Mr. Scrooge was sitting in that upstairs office and fully expected Tiny Tim to greet me around the corner. Yes, I know. They lived in England, but you get the point.
From the first moment we drove into town we were greeted with snowflakes! Yes, real snow! Just like on the Christmas card. (I know, you’re probably thinking…What’s the big deal?But I grew up in SoCal for Pete’s sake!) It melted as soon as it hit the ground, but those little flurries floating around my head and catching on my eyelashes brought out the little girl in me…and that little girl hung out all weekend! Several times I caught her giggling out loud with delight. We spent our time browsing through quaint little bookstores, antique shops, and mercantile establishments of all sorts… and people watching of the absolute BEST kind!
At the top of the hill stands a beautiful little Victorian church, the very same one that Faith and her family attends in my movie narrative. Gas lamps line the streets – real gas lamps that sputter in the darkness! Because it’s Christmastime, white lights sparkle up and down the streets and in the reflections of the wet pavement. Ribbon candy and Christmas trees and lights glitter in the shop windows.
This particular weekend is the real Nevada City “Victorian Christmas,” a celebration that happens over several Wednesdays and weekends during the month of December.
Early in the afternoon white tents begin to line the main street and vendors set out their wares: warm hats, cozy scarves, fragrant soaps, boxes and trinkets galore.
Town folk dressed in beautiful Victorian costumes soon begin to stroll the sidewalks. Musicians, some very young, positioned themselves in front of the shops. Their melodies float in the air. Street magicians entertain the growing crowd and horse-drawn carriages wait at the curb like New York taxis.
Mrs. Claus accompanies Santa, in all his Victorian glory, as they wander through the town greeting locals and visitors. I even spy him casually entering a “ladies” shop in search of a gift for Mrs. Claus…
Through the glare of a café window, I notice a group of women, dressed in rich Victorian velvets and feathered hats, sipping and chatting in a small alcove.
It’s raining, but no one seems to care. A few are carrying colorful umbrellas, but most don’t seem to mind the weather at all. They simply warm themselves with a hot cup of spiced cider from one of the vendors, or pop into one of the cafés for a warm cup of chocolate. Then it’s back outside to enjoy the toe-tapping merriment!
A local we meet while dining at Lefty’s Grill suggests that our adventure wouldn’t be complete without a visit to see Eddie T. Elf. This emissary of Santa lives just out of town in a pine shrouded neighborhood. We wind our way up the narrow road that seems to get darker and more foreboding the further we go, but then, a magnificent glow of lights filters through the trees and excitement begins to mount. We’re going to see Eddie!
Eddie the Elf (Eddie T. Elf) lives on the property of a local resident who has decorated his yard to rival anything you see at Disneyland. Lights and ornaments sparkle in the trees and along the path to Eddie’s house. And then we see it…a small miniature house where only a real elf could possibly live. A little boy, not more than three, sits on a small stool in front of Eddie’s door having a perfectly legitimate conversation about what he should and shouldn’t get for Christmas. It is all way too cute, charming, and more lovely adjectives than I could possibly write here. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. One that we hope to repeat many more times in coming years.
And, for the record, it’s now official… I’m out of the closet as the world’s sappiest woman! God bless us one and all!!!