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Holiday Traditions

Posted November 14, 2012 in Winterset

The first day the winter wonderlands began to appear in the local Harvest Creek store windows, it was like flipping a switch for the local youth. Pictured admiring the new seasonal window displays are Alexis Kneedler, 12; Marissa Swenson, 11; Nicole Potterfield, 10; and Hayley Flowers, 11.

For some the holidays can be a special time to rally together on familiar hunting grounds — it’s an opportune time for the outdoorsmen to set their sights on the crowning jewel of the holiday table.

Fortunately, Winterset’s surrounding countryside is well known for its prime habitat for a variety of wild game and fowl, including the season’s symbolic centerpiece, the Eastern Wild turkey. Whether it’s on one of the county’s public hunting grounds or on Grandpa’s memory-trodden woodlands and fields, this elusive bird can be a challenge for old and young alike.

Father/son time
For the past few years, Shane Pashek and his son, Hunter, have enjoyed quality father-and-son time outside in the fields and valleys of Madison County.

Hunter, 11, has honed his skills by watching and listening to his dad call turkeys in the past.

“He actually called this 23-pounder in all by himself,” says proud Dad, “right at the end, though, I think we were both calling. We got a little excited. It’s a great sport to share with your son.”

Hunter Pashek, 11, has honed his skills by watching and listening to his dad call
turkeys. Hunter has successfully hunted three turkeys, including this 23-pounder.

According to Dad, this is Hunter’s third bird so far, with this last one having an 11-inch beard and 1-inch spurs. However, this third turkey didn’t make it into the freezer for the following Thanksgiving meal either.

“Fresh, bacon-wrapped turkey breasts on the grill… it’s just too hard to resist; maybe next year,” smiles Shane.

Hometown shopping
That spark of Holiday spirit for others starts with the first twinkle of lights as they appear in the store windows. Like Pavlov’s dog, it’s that first sparkle of glitter that kicks us into full shopping mode. And, luckily, Winterset residents have the advantage of having their own personal shopping mall right at their fingertips.

On the square or nearby, local antique and craft shops, restaurants and a wide range of local specialty shops and services can be found. Stockings can easily be filled with locally-purchased collectible books of stamps; delectable truffles and candies; gift certificates for manicures, massages or new haircuts; or tickets to the local movie theatre. How about a bottle of wine from a local winery to put under the tree? Or help someone finish a home-improvement project by filling a basket with paint supplies and a bucket of white paint he or she can tint later.

Shopping locally is a win/win for everyone; the more dollars that go back into the local businesses, the more product they will have to offer to sell and the less trips we have to make traveling out of town to shop.

Turn to the pros
Holiday preparations can often rob us of quality time that could be better spent with friends and family.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate good food.

One instant stress reliever would be to utilize the skills and goods of local chefs and cooks by purchasing locally-baked breads and desserts, cheeses and honeys, etc. Or, go all out and enjoy every last moment of your precious family time together by letting someone else do the cooking and dishes for one of the meals. Winterset has a variety of restaurants and cafes that can suit the palettes of any visiting guest. Be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch or just dessert and coffee, treat yourself to a little extra free time and let the pros step in to help.

Made in Winterset
The art of personalized gift giving can be as simple as a homemade box of someone’s favorite cookies, a skillfully-handcrafted treasure such as an heirloom quilt or exquisite knitted and crocheted sweaters and scarves.

You can take advantage of the many local artisans and consider some of their beautiful wall art and pottery, or go all out and commission them to create unique and special gifts in a variety of mediums such as stain glass and magnificent gems mounted in unique silver settings.

Beating the squirrels to the punch    

Jack Jeffs repurposes an antique corn sheller.

As the walnuts gradually fall from the trees, they are collected and later run through Jack Jeffs’ antique corn sheller to remove the green outer shell. The freshly-shelled walnuts are then allowed to dry before being cracked for their delicious meats. A lot of work for a little nut? Not if these little morsels make it into your Christmas cookies and breads. There is nothing that compares.

How much is that doggie in the window?
Who doesn’t visualize a package under the tree with tiny little air-holes and the smiles it would bring to see an adorable puppy or kitten pop out wearing a big red bow.

But — and this is a big “but” — a pet can be a huge responsibility and should always warrant a preview of the pros and cons that come with being a responsible pet owner. All buyers should keep in mind, tiny little puppies can grow into very large adults, and all pets require additional costs in food, veterinary care, grooming, etc.

However, if you’ve done your homework and the checklist is complete and the signs are all clear, then a real win-win could be to check with the local pound or the Animal Rescue League. There are always a host of precious, and homeless pets that deserve to get their Christmas wishes, too.

Pets come in every shape and size, from reptiles, fish, parakeets, kittens and cats, to whimsical and playful puppies and dogs. Always do your homework before buying someone a pet for Christmas.

And we are thankful
Parent, student, business owner, farmer, retired or somewhere in between, we have witnessed the struggling communities and their small businesses as they wrestle with the decision to close their doors.

Fortunately for most Winterset residents and business people, this last year has been about positive change. We have seen several businesses stretch their wings through remodeling or even installations of complete new buildings. Improvements continued on roads, the water tower and bridges, and constructions projects were completed in our schools and at the hospital. And once again, the Covered Bridge Festival welcomed visitors from all around the world.

But most importantly, this community has not only welcomed exciting new businesses and restaurants throughout the city, but it has also welcomed new families who have chosen to call this their home.

So, even though the year 2012 will definitely go down as a year of economic hardship, natural disasters and political woes, it is remarkable to see that most of us in this community can still remain optimistic as the year finally winds down.

Let’s usher in the holiday season and welcome the time we have with family and friends. Let’s also be thankful and wish for yet another year of exciting changes.

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