Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

Father said it is bitterly cold this morning with a wind that causes the windows to shudder.  If it were not so cold, I would go to the attic to feel the gusts moan between the eaves.  It sounds very sad.  I wonder if it is seeking comfort in the midst of our family.  The sound is soft and smooth but the air passing by is as sharp as the cracking noise of  the roof in the cold.  The ends of the nails that poke down through the roof are white with frost.  I would not go if Josh and Brent did not come with me.   I am always  glad when they come to be with me.  I dearly wish Mother and Father to be able to see them and speak with them. But I am the only one that can see or hear them…..

Josh asked if Mother was going to be taking the greens from our house.  They were placed about our house to honor Christmas.  There is something magic about having a bit of the forest inside.  I did not see any signs  of Mother, or the women who help her, readying to remove the greens.  I asked Mother if the boughs and berries  were going to be removed and placed outside today.  She laughed and said “Oh my, not yet”.  I believe she told me February 1 was the proper time to do that.  That is the eve of Candlemas.   Josh was listening carefully. Brent said his mother would take down their tree and put things away on Epiphany, January 6.

Mother could not hear them so she continued to speak to me about February 1.  She recited a poem by Robert Herrick.  I do not remember hearing it before.

Down with the rosemary, and so.
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall

Grandmere, who was visiting, warned Mother and I that if there was even one berry or bough that escaped removal, there would be a death in the congregation before the end of the year.  I hope I can help in February. Brent said he would watch and follow the removal of each bough.  He is worried that one single pine needle may slip between the floor boards.  Many people in our congregation ARE old already.  Josh said he was not worried because Brent is very thorough and then he rolled his eyes.

It is good Father and Mother CANNOT see him.

by Mary Beekman

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mary

Hello Roger, these sound so unique. Mother allows me tea with

lots of milk and and I think these would taste so good.

Thank you very, very much. Your grandmother must have

been a superior cook. It is good you remember how to make

these memories that taste good.

Reply
Roger

Hello again Mary,

I meant to tell you earlier that the Black Cherry molded Jello salad we make for our Twelfth Night Dinner has black cherries in it which are stuffed with pecan halves and little balls of cream cheese are also added. That makes it so good!

I’m glad to tell you about the Cinnamon Stars. I was taught to make Cinnamon Stars by my grandmother who explained to me that they are a very traditional part of the Christmas and Advent offerings given to guests in Germany. But my grandmother and many people of German ancestry have made them here in America as well and have kept the tradition alive. Here is my grandmother’s recipe. Give this to your mother and suggest she make some:

Zimtsterne zum Weihnachten (Cinnamon Stars)

Ingredients:

• 4 egg whites

• 3 ½ cups of powdered sugar

• 4 cups of raw almond meal

• 2 tsp. of ground cinnamon

• 1 oz. of Kirschwasser (Cherry Brandy)

Preparation:

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Continue beating for 5 minutes after the last addition. The mixture should be very stiff, like the icing used to hold gingerbread houses together.

Save 1/2 cup of the meringue for icing.

Fold in the raw almond meal and the cinnamon. Add the Kirschwasser, if you are using it.

Chill the dough for about 1 hour.

Use powdered sugar on your baking board or clean countertop, pat the dough into a square and roll it out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out stars with a cookie cutter. Powder the cookie cutter between each cut. Place stars on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush or spread the icing on each star, working it out to all the points.

Let the stars dry overnight. The oven is a good place if you don't forget they are there and heat it for something else.

The next day, heat the oven to 325°F. Bake each tray for 10-15 minutes. This is to dry out the cookies a little more and bake the egg whites. Try to remove the cookies before the icing turns brown, although a little brown tint can look nice.

Store these cookies in a dry place at room temperature.

I hope you like them! These have been favorites of mine for many Christmas seasons.

Roger

Reply
Mary

Roger, I became hungry when I read about the wonderful

dishes and tastes. Thank you for telling me about them.

I am going to share them with Mother. She is a very, very

good cook. I would like to see the cinnamon stars.

Reply
Roger; Portland, OR

Hello Mary:

I'm glad to read that a lot of folks choose to celebrate Epiphany even if the customs and traditions vary considerably. For me it is a day to celebrate the conclusion of the holiday season. I feel sad when I see Christmas trees discarded on the 26th of December. That might be the end of the "shopping days" but I believe, as many do, that Christmas begins on December 25th and goes on for 12 days, concluding on "Twelfth Night" as we enjoy a traditional German dinner. I never tire of this menu and wish to share it here:

Roast Duck

Bavarian Red Cabbage

Mashed Potatoes with Duck Gravy

Black Cherry molded Jello Salad

The Dessert consists of traditional German pastries; marzipan, pfefferkuchen, cinnamon stars, macaroons, etc. served with coffee and strong Earl Grey tea.

Recipes for all of these dishes are available online, or I am willing to share them upon request.

I think it's nice to have a holiday to "end all of the holidays" where I can reflect on the seasons of Advent and Christmas as well as the New Year! And, for me, it's nice to have another holiday to celebrate during the 'blah' days of January.

Best wishes and blessings to you Mary and to every living thing at Beekman Farm!

Roger

Reply
Ken Rossi-Lakeview,

Having been raised in NYC and North Blenheim, in Schoharie County….Warm memories flood my mind, reading about the Beekman Boys and the Beekman Mansion…early seventies…I had the rare opportunity to tour the Beekman Mansion. At that time the Mansion was falling swiftly into disrepair…Thank you …whoever did the fabulous restoration and thank you for Josh and Dr. Brent for occupying it presently…

My family and I still follow family tradition and remove the greens (Christmas Tree etc), on or the day after Epiphany…(the day the Magi appeared bearing gifts for the Christ Child). Also known as 12th night Celebration..

I visited in November, the Beekman 1802 Store in Sharon Springs and the many other shops as well…what a great revival of that sleepy little Miracle Mineral Springs Town! The article in "Country Living" was the icing on the cake for me! Plus I've now discovered this website and truly am enjoying it! The rural area I live in doesn't enable me to view any of your shows…

Best Regards and Happy, Healthy, & Prosperous New Year to you all at the Beekman Mansion & Farm!

Reply
Mary

David, Josh said his mother's church is having a dinner

on Epiphany before removing the greens. There will

also be a pageant/play. It is going to be such a happy time.

Reply
David Gillentine

Always happy to hear when other Americans keep their Christmas things up 'til Epiphany. I do, too. I'm the preacher at my church this Sunday and we're observing Epiphany because we don't meet on Thursday, the 6th. Epiphany means manifestation, realization, awakening. May blessings, love and peace be realized and made manifest for our Fabulous Beekman Boys, their families, friends and fans.

Reply
Mary

Sue, Happy New Year to you as well. I like to make little

windows also. I find the prettiest spot in the frost ferns

on the window and then press my tongue there………..then I

look through the clear spot and it seems like a very large

snow globe outside.

Reply
Sue Tolbert-Flint, M

Mary, I had forgotten about taking the Christmas ornaments back to the attic. It was so cold going up the stairs with the many boxes. It was also crunchy as my shoes smashed the sleeping flies that would wake up with the first warm day in spring. Did you ever put your tongue on the frosted window so your warm spit melted a spot so you could see out over the frozen country side? It always seemed like my special window to the farm down the road. I wonder if the children living in my old childhood house enjoy my attic window. Happy New Year, Mary.We'll talk again. Sue

Reply
Sabino

Dear Mary,

I love traditions and don't believe in superstitions.

Where I come from, it is a tradition to celebrate the Epiphany Day with presents for the children (as the 3 Wise Men brought to baby Jesus) and drinking hot chocolate with freshly baked Epiphany Bread (which is delicious, by the way). The Christmas tree still has to be there.

The Epiphany bread usually has one or several little baby Jesus figurines made with porcelain or plastic and the person who cuts a slice of the Epiphany bread containing one of these baby Jesus little figures has to throw a party on Candlemas Day (February 2nd.), to celebrate Candlemas and to eat hand made "tamales" and drink hot chocolate as well. For this celebration, the Christmas tree also has to be still in place and until then, after February 2nd, the Christmas tree and all Christmas ornaments around the house are removed and put away for the next Christmas.

This is a tradition where I come from………

ps – About 2 years ago, I was extremely busy with work, and after throwing a party to celebrate Candlemas (with tamales and hot chocolate), I couldn't throw my Christmas tree away the following day, so I decided to put it in the balcony until I had a little time to put it in the building's trash bin. By early May that year, I realized the Christmas tree was still sitting in my balcony, so I decided it was time to throw it away, and I did……… and guess what…..nobody died…… So…… confirmed, superstitions do not fit in our beliefs where I come from……. we just celebrate our traditions with family and friends… eating and partying like crazy!!!!!

You should do the same and don't pay attention to superstitions, just enjoy! Please tell Josh and Brent they have nothing to worry about if they still have Christmas ornaments or the Christmas tree in the Mansion by May or later in the year…….. everything will be fine!

SABINO

Reply
teri tighe

Josh and I have the same problem, rolling of the eyes. And I wish others couldn't see me, as well, because they get annoyed at me doing this.

I find it interesting how many superstitions people believe in, even during the Christmas holiday.

Please have Brent report back to let us know if all the Christmas greenery was disposed of.

Stay warm, Mary!

Reply