Susanna Prince
Crackerjack Contemporary Crafts Newsletter
Celebrating the Handmade since 1986
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Issue: # 17   December 2009
Yes, I know I say it every month, so I won't this time - you know.

The store looks great, if I do say so myself - all decked out for the holidays and ready for the onslaught! A word to the wise - REMEMBER LAST YEAR! Remember last year? The snow, the ice? A customer told me the other day that her husband was in trouble with the whole family - he'd left his shopping until the last minute and the only place he could walk to was the grocery store! So be warned! More than ever, the admonition to Shop Early should resonate with all of us!

.                          Tree in Snow

We are chock full of all your favorite lines - a great selection of Kristin Ford Jewelry, some wonderful hats by local milliners Ann De Vuono, Deanna Di Bene and Devorah Baber, votive candles from Michele Fokos and so much more! Plus we have been receiving lots of new things - locally made Estrella Soap, Kristi-Thorndike-Kent's whimsical fused glass ornaments, pretty switchplate covers and some beautiful hanging votive stars by our own Jen - sales associate, student and star-maker extraordinaire!

We're excited to be able to offer
Gift Certificates online now! They can be either in an electronic form to be used on the website, or a paper form that can be used either in the store or online. So you can give a gift to someone in another city to shop with us online, and they can give you a certificate to use in the store or online! How easy is that?

And don't forget our other services - Gift Wrapping, Lay-Away and our Wish Cards. The Wish Cards work like this - you choose an item or two you would love to receive, we write down all the particulars on the card, and you give it to that special someone who will be so happy to know exactly what you want! It works like a charm! And it avoids a man coming in with a vague notion that his wife saw some earrings in the store that he'd like to purchase for her. He thinks they were blue, and maybe dangled a bit. Please help us help you get the pair you loved. It was probably a necklace anyway!


I hope you can join us for the Wallingford Center Open House and Fashion Show this Saturday from 5 - 8. It promises to be lots of fun, with a D.J., over 50 outfits, food and beverages. Stop by the store and say "Hi" and sample some wine candies and Spokandy Mints. Crackerjack will be donating a portion of the evening's proceeds to purchase gifts for area low-income children, so please help by doing some shopping with us that night! I hope to see a lot of you there! See details below.

See our Holiday Hours right below - we will be opening earlier and staying later on Sundays, and all the rest of the days until 8p.m.

 Don't miss the Turtle Update from Phil Shelton below!
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             Holiday Hours


         Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
           Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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 Upcoming Events

Please Join Us
Holiday Open House at Wallingford Center

Saturday December 5, 5 to 8 p.m.

Help us kick off the Holidays with an evening of Food, Shopping,   Fashion and Fun!

Fashion Show Extravaganza begins at 6p.m.

Create a Magical Memory! Pictures with Santa and Family Portraits
Bookings available through December 31.

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Things to Celebrate!

Dec. 1 -
  Rosa Parks Day - did you know the actual bus is on view at the Henry  Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan? Also the Oscar Meyer Weenie Car!
Dec. 4 -  National Cookie Day
               Wear Brown Shoes Day

Dec. 6 -  St. Nicholas Day

Dec. 7 -  Pearl Harbor Day

Dec. 8 - Brownie Day

Dec. 9 - Ball-bearing Roller Skates Patented 1884 - Our basement had the stairway in the center, and so you could skate around in a circle - and around - and around - and around........

Dec. 11 - Hanukkah

Dec. 12 - Poinsettia Day - From Mexico, legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday.  Inspired by an angel, she gathered weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. Since the 1600's Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.

Dec. 13 - First Susan B. Anthony Dollar 1970

Dec. 14 - South Pole Discovered 1911
               First Miniature Golf course Opened

Dec.16  -National Chocolate-covered Anything Day

Dec. 17 -
National Maple Syrup Day

Dec. 21 - First Crossword Puzzle 1913 - created by Arthur Wynn for the weekly puzzle page of FUN, an 8 page comic section of The New York World.

Dec. 22 -
Thermometer Invented

Dec. 24 -Johnny Cruelle's Birthday - Creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy

Dec. 25 -  Christmas!

Dec. 27 -
Visit the Zoo Day

Dec. 31 - New Year's Eve - Happy 2010!


Festivities are subjective - what one person considers festive is definitely not what another person considers festive. For some, the more decorations, the merrier. For others, it's only specific decorations. For instance, at the Wallingford Center, we now know that for me to feel the Holiday Spirit, there need to be poinsettias up both sides of the main entry marble stairs. For Julia at Yazdi, it's the garland on the banisters up both sides. It's the same with food - to really be Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Hanukkah, a particular food needs to be a part of the meal. Or a particular activity needs to be entered into.

These are our traditions, and they are handed down from one generation to another. They morph through marriage and friendship, through childhood to adulthood, but some element often remains constant and can be traced back for generations. Some traditions are so strong, no one can remember where, when or why they began, but we do them anyway because it just wouldn't be the same otherwise.

I think it's interesting to begin your own family traditions, the things that work for your family, for you, here and now. Not that you throw out the old, but adapt them where necessary, and add onto, change them.

I'm always trying to find balance. My mom was at home with four kids, and my grandmother lived with us for several years as well. So for Thanksgiving, I remember coming home from school to a huge bowl of stuffing in the refrigerator, ready to go into the turkey, and several pies my grandma had made from scratch - both mincemeat and pumpkin, mind you! The silver was polished, the "good" dishes were down from the cupboard, the turkey was thawed, all was ready for the next day's big event. And they both spent the major part of the day cooking and then cleaning up afterward.

I, in contrast, am in the midst of one of the most stressful couple weeks of the year, getting the store ready for the holidays, with all that that involves. Yet, it's important to me to have a nice celebration with my family. And I like to cook, and love the idea of decorating, using my special serving pieces and a pretty tablecloth, lighting some candles. So what's the solution? I make choices. I consult with my son about what makes the holiday meal special for him. I decide with my husband that we don't want to spend the whole day in the kitchen. And I discern what's most important to me to have on the table. So I made a pumpkin pie using a frozen pie shell and my grandfather's dressing on Weds. night, we bought a chicken instead of a turkey, and made garlic mashed potatoes so we wouldn't need gravy. I put a lace tablecloth on the table and some seasonal candles and a few pretty leaves from outside. And I used our "regular" dishes. Oh! And I made the fresh cranberry relish - that says Holidays to me! It's not the way my mom did it, but the traditions are there, and I actually had time for a walk - and a nap!

For our family, the Christmas Day and New Years Day tradition is to go for a walk at the beach. Some years we miss, often due to the weather, but even if it's raining we try to go, to be out of the house, to say "Merry Christmas" to strangers and to whet our appetites for whatever meal I didn't spend days preparing!

NEXT MONTH: Winter Days

I wish you all a Holiday Season filled with Love, and Wonder, and Magic, and Peace. And I pray that in the New Year we witness Peace throughout the world!


Kathleen Koch
Crackerjack Contemporary Crafts

And Thank You for your continued patronage of a local independent business and for supporting American handmade!

Turtle Update!

Last month I related the saga of a turtle found by one of our artists - Phil Shelton. I received an update recently I wanted to share:

"Remember the turtle my friend and I rescued? I went up to check on him at the Botanical Gardens and he and his fifty closest friends are doing just fine. They are just taking the sun and taking a dip now and then to cool off. I am really glad that Jennifer and I took the turtle up to the pond and set him free. When I see all those turtles "living the life", it almost makes me wish I were a turtle too. The actual name of the turtle is "red eared slider". All of the turtles in the pond are the same variety. It looks like they all get along with no quibbling. "