As the saying goes, “What goes up, must come down,” and that now applies to our wonderful Christmas exhibit here in the Carriage House at the Physick Estate in Cape May. The exhibit has filled the Carroll Gallery since the weekend before Thanksgiving and has elicited “oohs” and “ahhs” from thousands of visitors, but the time has come for it to go into hibernation for another year.
During holiday tours this year, I probably told hundreds of visitors that this exhibit was much like childbirth: extremely painful in the process but then worth it when you see how wonderful it is. Also like childbirth is the tendency to forget the pain by the time the following holiday season rolls around and we do it again! But I’m glad we do (both forget the pain and do it again) because it has become, over the past seven years, a big part of the Christmas experience for those who visit in Cape May. I sometimes look at it as having created a monster, because there is no way we can ever decide to do something else. It has become the magnet that brings people to our doors, and I couldn’t stand to disappoint them.
Just like the tree, which is the centerpiece, this exhibit has grown over the years, both in content and materials. It seems like each year there are more ornaments on the tree than the year before. There is certainly more on the walls, including our “Family Album” of old pictures of staff enjoying the Christmases of their childhood, my favorite quotes and illustrations from Dickens’ Christmas Carol, plus garland and ribbon and ornaments, oh my! This year we added something new and I guess you could say it was thanks to my cat. I had (note the past tense) a really nice (really expensive) artificial tree which I used for several years and, when not decorated, I stored it in a corner of the loft area of my second floor. Soon after being adopted, my little tuxedo cat decided to climb it and deconstruct it. It looked like it had been through a tornado, but I kept thinking I could use the branches for something, besides swatting the cat.
This year, I bundled them up and brought them in and reconstructed them i