My first holiday stop, Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church, holds its annual Christmas bazaar in early November. The lunch menu includes homemade pies, barbecues and soup. I’ve made the chicken dumpling soup for the past few years. The Norwegian bakery is in demand, particularly the lefse, krumkake, rosettes and sandbakkels. Bargains can be purchased at the rummage and craft sales.
Forth Floral, in business in Rhinelander for over 100 years, holds its traditional open house. The cinnamon smell of apple cider permeates the air as your enter their door. Complimentary calendars for the New Year are available and patrons are invited to submit their names for floral giveaways. Poinsettias are everywhere. Trees are decorated with coordinated ornaments, ribbons and glitter, bringing oohs and aahs from visitors.
Next stop: the huge craft sale at the junior high. To find a parking spot is a challenge. Lunch and bake sales are offered as a fundraiser for the local animal shelter and church. Hundreds of vendors display the homemade items they have crafted with the hope of selling out. I doubt any shopper leaves empty-handed. I certainly do not. I always visit the towel lady, pick up some cookies and candy, and visit an old friend and local artist, Carol Junkermann, for postcards and refrigerator magnets, hand painted with wildlife.
Down the road is the First Congregational Church. Their Christmas bazaar is always scheduled on the same day as the junior high craft sale. This is where I always purchase my fresh Christmas swag, which I later hang between my two garage doors. Sometimes, I find a pair of hard-to-find clip earrings. Again, I cannot pass up the homemade cookies, breads, jams and candy offered at very reasonable prices.
The local Catholic church holds its annual bazaar, cookie and candy sale on this same day. It is usually very well attended.
Time to go home; there’s more next weekend.
The lighting of the community Christmas tree and parade occurs the following Friday evening.
On Saturday, an early trip to Immanuel Ev. Lutheran Church is in order, as their homemade cookies, lefse, stolen and breads disappear quickly.
I always marvel when I tell my friends about the bargains I’ve found while shopping at the aforementioned events, as many of them respond that they have never gone to one of them. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
We also have our annual cookie exchange, held at Lurv’s Kozy Korner. I make my usual Mexican Wedding Cakes (144 cookies) and exchange them for a variety of cookies baked by others. While there, we enjoy each other’s company with a cocktail (or two) and hors d’oeuvres. We now have more than enough cookies to share with our family and friends.
After Christmas shopping at local shops downtown, a visit to the Rhinelander Pub & Cafè for one of their famous Tom and Jerrys, is an annual tradition that cannot be missed.
Time is set aside to remember the loss of our loved ones. The two funeral homes hold a service with the participation of local pastors, choraliers and speakers. The chamber of commerce, coupled with Ministry Health Care, holds a tree lighting ceremony.
Giving to others less fortunate is encouraged in Rhinelander.
Bell ringers with their red kettles volunteer their time for the Salvation Army; the Lions sponsor a No Christmas Alone dinner; stores offer space for Toys for Tots; businesses and clubs collect for the local food pantry; each of the local churches has its own unique offering. Winter coats are donated and distributed to those in need.
Christmas to me is not only the exchange of gifts, a time for parties, sending cards to friends and family, and great food, but also participating, with gusto, in the traditions that our community, Rhinelander, has to offer.
Arlene Russell, Rhinelander