Christmas card snowflake
Christmas card snowflake


One of the chores I had planned for this weekend included tidying up the linen closet.  While making room for a new table linen that Pam and Rick had sent as a Christmas gift, I found this:

Antique monogramed french linens
Antique monogramed french linens

Shortly after I started working at MSLO, Martha came across these antique French linens while shopping.  Because they had my initials embroidered in them, she bought them for me.  Unexpected gifts are so much more precious than those we give and receive at the holidays when it’s less about the thought and more about the obligation.

Unearthing Martha’s gift made me reflect on some of the other unexpected surprises people have left on the stoop of the Beekman over the past year

Folk art creche
Folk art creche

My mom and grandmother sent me this folk-art creche

Mary and Joseph

I’ve mentioned my close relationship with my great grandmother, Jesse York, in several of the previous posts.  One Christmas more than 50 years ago, she decided she wanted to make a nativity

Using the simple things she had around her kitchen at the time:  newspaper, tin foil, scraps of fabric, and detergent bottles, she created this

She used hair she clipped from her dog for the beard of the wiseman

The wisemen

The crèche is now on display in the music room of the Beekman.  It will have the position of honor every Christmas I remain on this Earth

But there were many other fabulous gifts too:

Antique shoe form
Antique shoe form

Handyman Dan left us this antique shoe stretcher.  Joanne Beekman surely had something like this in her closet.

A child's primer
A child's primer

Our neighbor Peter gave us this old spelling primer found in the eaves of the Beekman barn.

Iris bulbs
Iris bulbs

Our neighbor, Barb Melera, the owner of D. Landreth Seed Company, gave me over 100 bearded iris bulbs.  In a few short months, this gift will give again.

And, of course, anyone who reads the HowToo blog knows how much we like food, so gifts of food are especially welcome—anytime.

Plum preserves
Plum preserves

Deb made wonderful plum preserves for us, and our friend Kat pickled just about everything you could imagine from the heritage vegetable garden.

There were many other gifts that came our way this year that in our excitement we forgot to take photos of like Andrew’s music compilation (that I’m listening to right now,)  and Robin’s jade plant that is now a “big city” girl.  And of course, God, or someone equally as powerful, saw fit to give us the Beekman.  We still haven’t figured out what we did to deserve this.

We gave back this year, too.  We stuffed the stockings of The Martha Stewart Center for Living and the backpacks of the school kids at The Thorntree Project.

We hope you’ll share your favorite gifts of the year in the comment section below.  Don’t keep them to yourself!!

(Each week I’ll give a quick status recap of the train trip to and from The Beekman)

We left NYC on the 8:20 train Friday morning and by the time we made it to the farm, the first snowflakes were beginning to fall.  We are happily snowed in at the farm for the next two weeks.

Check out the HowToo blog for a glimpse at how we decked the halls this year, and on Christmas Day check back for a special entry documenting the last big snow storm of ’08—16 inches and counting.  A white Christmas if ever there was one.

by Dr. Brent

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Suzanne Koba

I too recently have received many unexpected gifts. My sister, who lost her husband two years ago, just last week moved to PA to be close to her son and his family. In doing so she gave me many of her treasured items, some over 100 yrs. old. Those of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. All the unexpected ‘gifts’ from my grandchildren, drawings, just because cards, and yesterday my 6 yr. old granddaughter came over with a box of a dozen long stemmed red roses. Her grin was a mile wide and the love I could see in her eyes was something I’ll remember always. Family surprise gifts are one of the best.