As soon as you’ve eaten the last of the Halloween candy – remember the ones you told yourself you’d never eat? – you start paying attention to all of those Thanksgiving recipes in magazines. Maybe you think about another way to decorate your table for the big day, or you try desperately to remember where you put the extra chairs you will need around the table for the feast.
Traditions are important. They are a way to bond families and friends together. This is a time of the year where we expect certain happy events to occur at specific times. Images come to mind – a sweet mixture of childhood expectations and memories of happy times.
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center hosts one such event. The annual Holiday Craft Fair will take place Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5-6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The charge for most crafts is $2, and wreaths range from $12 and up. Cash and checks only. This is the only fundraiser for the Nature Center, and the profits are used to feed the animals.
People will line up outside. Some will bring their own hand pruners to be ready faster, and as soon as the door opens, they will rush to the piles of greenery.
You see, Placerita is the only place in this valley where you can make your own holiday decorations with fresh greenery, berries, seeds, pods and many other bounties of nature that have been gathered by the docents during the weeks before the event.
There are also fruit slices that have been dried by the docents to bring a lovely natural touch to wreaths and table centerpieces. You can find pine cones of many sizes and shapes. Large branches have been drilled with holes to make candlesticks.
So many natural treasures are available that people have to take a few minutes to gather their ideas and see what they are going to use. They go from one pile to the next, gathering the lovely materials. It is like a treasure hunt. The wonderful smell from all of that greenery welcomes you right away at the door.
People can buy a straw wreaths and branches to make a candlestick and attach all of the greenery on this clean slate. With the help of the glue gun, they can attach little details, and the result is always totally professional. We even have a Ribbon Lady who can help you with those finishing touches if you need help.
We see fathers and children getting in on the action and working as a team. It is always such a joy to see the pride in their creations. It is really fun to watch and also to admire the final product, because each time it looks extremely good.
I guess the abundance of natural treasures helps to get those results without any special talent or experience. The atmosphere is really fun because people help each other, give advice and support, share ideas and greenery and compliment each other.
While the parents are busy, the kids are having the time of their lives. Simple crafts have been prepared, and they can make little snowmen and pine cone angels or paint bird houses. It’s great to see all of the fun projects involving glue, glitter and holiday spirit which seems to abound on that day. Docents are there to help the little ones make their own creations.
This craft fair has been going on for more than 35 years, and we enjoy it so much when parents come now with their own little children and tell us about their memories of coming here when they were little. Some remember dipping candles that they still have as keepsakes at home even today.
We always have the pine cone bird feeders, and those are a great hit. You roll a large pine cone in a mixture of corn flour and peanut butter, and then you roll it in bird seed. The smell of the peanut butter takes over the room where people roll up their sleeves to get the most bird seed. It is always exciting to hang this special feeder in a tree when you come home.
Fred Seeley, one of the active docents at Placerita, will be Santa Claus again this year. Thanks to Fred for doing this. He has lots of experience being Santa, as he used to be Santa for his company before his retirement. The little children are often a bit surprised when they see this tall Santa, but Fred is so gentle and soft spoken – and when they realize he has candy canes in his bag for them, any apprehension melts away.
If you have not been to Placerita for a while, I can warmly recommend a stop in the gift shop. It has been completely renovated, and there are many lovely items to finish your holiday shopping. Don’t forget to check it out; you can find unusual and interesting gifts for every age group and many things just for yourself.
Mari Carbajal is in charge of the craft fair again this year, and she does a wonderful job. Many thanks to Mari for handling the fair in spite of a full-time work load. We really appreciate her dedication.
And thanks to all of the volunteers who work during those two days. Without their hard work, this event would not be possible. It takes lots of time and preparation, and we are all well aware of their efforts.
I hope you will have a chance to come to the Nature Center to participate in this delightful tradition. All of the docents at Placerita join me in wishing you very happy holidays as you enjoy the beautiful nature around you.
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, 1½ miles east of the 14 Freeway. For more information call 661-259-7721 or visit www.Placerita.org.
Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center for 28 years. She lives in Newhall.