PHILLIPS — Children put shoes next to the fireplace long before they hung their Christmas stockings. Decorations were handmade, and candles and lamps lit homes.

On Saturday, more than 100 guests toured five sites during “Christmas Through the Ages” to hear the history and stories of Christmas and have a taste of the sweets and beverages popular in each era. Two women on the tour were delighted that their original idea for the event has gained popularity.

Thirteen years ago, Carol McLaughlin and her sister Beverly Tripp decided to do a Christmas history celebration in North Anson.

“I was a Christmas aficionado and had a dream to do something like this,” McLaughlin said. “We had a great time and raised money for our library.”

McLaughlin saved all of the handmade costumes and decorations and donated the collection for Kingfield’s 2016 bicentennial celebration. The Phillips organizers asked to use the collection for this year’s event, and they borrowed and made all of the many extras for their displays.

Tom Saviello and Hedy Langdon hosted the Phillips Library’s Victorian-era celebration. The town’s restored library was built in the late 1800s, making it a part of the period. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” had become a classic earlier in the century, emphasizing the holiday as a time for family gatherings and sharing.

The Phillips Historical Society’s display was modeled after a traditional Williamsburg Christmas. Host Dick Matthews explained that only the wealthier people could afford to buy exotic and expensive pineapples to put atop the traditional fruit pyramid. Today, pineapples remain a symbol of hospitality and generosity during the Christmas season.

“Garlands and fruit were a large part of the decorating,” he said. “Mistletoe wasn’t approved by everyone, as you can imagine.”

Tina Rose, dressed as World War II icon Rosie the Riveter, greeted guests at the Phillips Area Community Center, representing the 1940s. Supporting the war effort made many items scarce, including paper for Christmas cards. Men weren’t working in the woods, on the farms and in the factories, so women did those jobs. Rose gave guests one of her handmade origami-style Froebel stars, which were popular and inexpensive decorations that children could make.

“My grandfather made them, and so did my father,” she said.

Sharon Jones opened her home for a 1950s Christmas celebration. She and Lynne Pieren met visitors in vintage outfits, including the requisite poodle skirts. Volunteer Winona Davenport told visitors that post-WWII celebrated a new culture, including Coca-Cola and Chex Mix as part of the Christmas fare.

Next year, the Farmington Historical Society will host the event, according to Matthews.

Sharon Jones, from left, Winona Davenport and Lynne Pieren greet guests in 1950s’ outfits during a town-wide tour with five “Christmas Through the Ages” destinations in Phillips on Saturday. (Valerie Tucker photo)

Hedy Langdon hosts a Victorian-era celebration at the Phillips Public Library during a town-wide tour of five “Christmas Through the Ages” destinations in Phillips on Saturday. (Valerie Tucker photo)


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