Littleton ahead of the curve on ‘simple’ celebrations

Posted 12/14/08

Judging from the magazine and newspaper articles I’ve been reading, celebrating a “simple” or “green” Christmas is the in thing to do this …

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Littleton ahead of the curve on ‘simple’ celebrations


Judging from the magazine and newspaper articles I’ve been reading, celebrating a “simple” or “green” Christmas is the in thing to do this year. I think these are just code words for “cheap,” as the economic crisis has left most of us holding rather tightly onto our slim wallets. For 2008, flashy holiday displays and expensive gifts are out; homespun celebrations and homemade gifts are in.

Here in Littleton, we’re ahead of the curve, as usual. We’ve been celebrating homespun holiday seasons for decades, starting off with our annual tree lighting and carol singing on Main Street the night after Thanksgiving. All you have to do is bring a candle or flashlight, and the family has an evening to kindle fond memories for years to come. Did I mention that it’s free?

Then there’s the annual Holiday’s Eve on the Farm, at the Littleton Historical Museum, where volunteers demonstrate how the early settlers celebrated Christmas. That’s always been one of my favorite holiday events. There’s something about seeing the horses and oxen at night, with their gentle, dark eyes and their moist breath, that reminds me of the first Christmas celebration in a stable.

Adults and children alike love the wagon rides, the hot cider, the bonfires. (I have to admit those bonfires always worried me when I was on the city council. What if a child fell into one? And what if the parents sued the city?)

If you missed Holiday’s Eve on Dec. 14, don’t worry. The Littleton Historical Museum is open every day except Dec. 25, free for all to come see how the holidays were celebrated back in the late 1800s. Our pioneer forefathers and mothers didn’t worry about having a lot of cash when Christmas rolled around. They used whatever they could find to decorate their homes: branches and boughs and berries. They cut out paper dolls and made popcorn chains. They sewed ornaments out of wool and fashioned candles from tallow.

If you think it’s hard to make Christmas cookies, imagine cooking gingerbread in a Dutch oven over an open fire, after splitting the wood first! I think even Martha Stewart would find that a little too homespun.

There are loads of “simple” (aka “cheap”) pleasures to enjoy in Littleton this holiday season. Sonya Ellingboe’s column is full of inexpensive musical or dramatic performances. You don’t have to spend a dime (or be a member) to enjoy the free holiday musical performances given at Littleton’s many churches. Likewise, we in Littleton are blessed with a number of trails and an abundance of open space. Now that we’ve received a nice snowfall, there’s no need to spend money driving to the mountains to enjoy a winter outing. Just grab your sleds and boots and head outside.

And for a magical Christmas Eve, visit the neighborhood south of Heritage High School to see their luminaria display. For two decades the 120 houses on West Hinsdale Drive and all the adjoining streets between Gallup and Windermere have lined their sidewalks with candles in paper sacks. Take a drive around that neighborhood after 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve to see another free Littleton holiday tradition.

Rather than fretting about your lack of buying power, this is the year when celebrating Christmas on the cheap is the chic thing to do. So leave your wallet at home and enjoy the holidays!

Rebecca Kast is a former Littleton city councilmember who writes monthly on local politics and history. She can be reached for comment at


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