When my good friend, Joanne Ashmore, asked me to help her with some stuffed animals, I replied that I hadn’t heard she had taken up taxidermy.
Then she explained that Jane Jennings, coordinator of the local Annual Holidays on the Farm event, was recruiting volunteers to sew stuffed animal toys to give out to children who attend.
Presented by The San Ramon Historic Foundation in partnership with the city of San Ramon, Holidays on the Farm, an old-fashioned Victorian celebration, will be held on two consecutive Saturdays this year – Dec. 3 and 10.
Joanne knows that I enjoy crafts of all persuasions, but because it had been quite some time since my Singer was out of mothballs, I was reluctant to sign on. She assured me all I would have to do was cut out and stuff the critters. She would play the role of seamstress. I breathed a sigh of relief and accepted her invitation.
Joanne rounded up a few more volunteers to help with the project and over the next several Friday mornings, Trudy Strahl, Anna Feherenbach, Gayle Studt, Kim Crow and I gathered around her dining room table to pitch in.
We took turns cutting out and pinning together bunnies, giraffes and gingerbread men. All the while, Joanne’s sewing machine hummed as she stitched each critter that we stacked at her end of the table.
Then we trimmed their seams, turned them outside out and filled them with stuffing. Gayle brought them to life by adding faces to each toy using her expert embroidery skills.
While we worked, we sipped tea, nibbled on our host’s homemade cookies and dished the latest gossip.
We even bundled up a few critters after each meeting and took them home to do the finish work while we caught up on episodes of Dancing with the Stars and The Good Wife. To be honest, I can only report my own viewing selections. I can’t attest to the programming preferences of the others.
Over the course of those Friday mornings in October and November, we cut, pinned, stitched, stuffed and added smiles to more than 60 plush toys.
I learned later that San Ramon Historic Foundation members, Sue Yura and Pat Boom, along with Girl Scout Troup 30441 were all on board for the project. Even Jane, the event’s coordinator for the past three years, pitched in.
I contacted Jane who shared that when she first took over management of the annual holiday event, she wanted to do something to make a visit with Santa at the Farm extra special.
She hit on the idea to make toys using patterns that her mother had used over the years. “I still have a few of the toys she made,” said Jane, “from remnants of fabrics used to make clothes for me. This makes the animals very special to me.”
She went on to say that the first time she put out a call for volunteers to help with the project she received more than 250 completed animals!
So all you grandparents out there, load up the grandkids and head down to Forest Home Farms Historic Park next month for Holidays on the Farm. Step back in time and experience the season as it was celebrated at the turn of the 20th century.
The park is located on San Ramon Valley Boulevard at Pine Valley Road and will be open on both Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p,m. Admission is free.
On Saturday, Dec. 3, a pair of live reindeer will visit the Farm from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Family entertainment will include “Christmas Capers” by Magical Moonshine Puppets, holiday music by the San Ramon Children’s Chorus, Victorian ornament making, old-fashioned games, tractor rides and sheep dog demos. Be sure to stop and chat with Victorian Santa. He’ll be distributing the stuffed toys handcrafted by my fellow volunteers.
The following Saturday, Dec. 10, more than a dozen vendors will display unique gifts for purchase at the Holiday Market. Entertainment will include sheep dog demonstrations, Victorian ornament making, tractor rides and carolers. Victorian Santa will stop by again to hand out more toys.
The Welcome Center, Holiday Tree Lot, Tractor Museum and Gift Shoppe will be open both days. Food will be available for purchase, too.
Don’t forget to tour The Glass House Museum, all decked out for the holidays. Glass House Museum Tours are scheduled for 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.
Tours of the Farm grounds will also be available, beginning at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Tours are $5 per person per tour, or $8 per person for both tours.
I can't think of a better opportunity than this unique holiday event to create a lasting memory with those precious grandchildren. I don't have to remind you how fast they grow up.