As is our tradition, the Zeiger Family Homestead Christmas season began Friday morning.This year, however, Michelle and I undertook a project that brought Christmas to the homestead a couple of weeks early.
The Haines Public Library holds a major fundraiser each year on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Their “Lighting of the Library” celebration pretty much ushers in Haines’s Christmas season. Staff and an army of volunteers place a huge Christmas tree in the meeting room, decorate it and the rest of the library, and present it to the public with a big holiday party. As a fund raiser, it’s traditionally a ticketed event, but this year it’s an open house.
The party always includes a silent Christmas tree auction. The library provides 2-foot artificial trees to volunteering local businesses, civic organizations, and other groups, which they decorate for the auction. These are a great way to advertise. The local hardware stores may hang tools on their tree; a local sporting goods store might hang fishing lures. Each tree has a cash value, and a suggested starting bid. All proceeds benefit the library.
We have never attended a Lighting of the Library before, so we’ve never seen the auction. But, this year Michelle helped a group at her work to decorate a tree, and she and I decided to try decorating one of our own.
I didn’t really “get” the concept, having never seen the trees. But, once Michelle explained the promotional nature of the activity, we started looking at all the things we make here on the homestead, and the ideas began to come thick and fast.
Our finished tree features a great mix of personal and professional creations, including:
- One of Aly’s knit dinosaurs
- Two varieties of local, dried wild mushrooms
- A coupon for a free e-book copy of Shy Ghosts Dancing: Dark Tales from Southeast Alaska
- A packet of chai tea mix
- A packet of “fireside cofee” mix
- A small bar of homemade tea tree/lavender soap
- A pair of Aly’s homemade porcupine quill earrings
- A pocket tin of our devil’s club salve
- Several tatting ornaments Michelle made
- A coupon for two free hours of consultation with my company, Yeldagalga Publications, LLC
- A couple of cobra-stitch zipper pulls I made
- Michelle’s Winter/Wood Sprite tile from our Cafepress store
- A parachute cord survival bracelet I tied
- A set of shaker sifter plans
- And a spice “cookie” star for the top
When we started, we worried we wouldn’t have enough stuff!
Of course, I wish we could have included more. We almost added a little log cabin incense burner (with homemade incense cones) like the ones we made for family, Christmas 2006. It was our last one, so we decided not to part with it. I really wanted to figure out a way to work in a toy trebuchet like the one I made Aly for Christmas 2008, but I didn’t have time to make one, nor could I give it the proper seasonal spin (“Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a medieval siege engine!”). We almost included a copy of the homestead version of Clement C. Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas that we wrote and illustrated for family one year, but we couldn’t get it into the tree properly. And, my idea to include small bottles of homemade wine and coffee liqueur didn’t get past Michelle (it’s a family event, after all, and children do buy some of the trees).
At any rate, we were pretty pleased with the result. Decorating the tree with homecrafted items showed us that we really do make a wide range of goods for personal use and sale, and that they do have value.
It’s hard to put a price on everything, but we figure a reasonable cash value is about $240! Library staff will set a starting bid—I can’t guess what that might be. It’s a bit scary “putting ourselves out there” like that, but then, I’ve always sucked at self-promotion. Can’t wait for Saturday (3-5 p.m.) to find out if it gets any bids!